The Contemporary Novel in France

The Contemporary Novel in France

The Contemporary Novel in France

The Contemporary Novel in France


"A truly 'contemporary' study... remarkably up-to-date.... Each of the individual articles represents a genuine contribution to knowledge."--Charles A. Porter, Yale University

"Invaluable to readers wishing to familiarize themselves with the wide array of novels that have been published in France since the advent of the New Novel in the 1950s. For Anglo-American readers who may not have easy access to events on the contemporary French literary scene, this work will be especially useful and instructive."--Leah D. Hewitt, Amherst College

These essays provide an overview of the novel form in contemporary France through analyses of the works of novelists who have been at the forefront of French letters since 1960. Written by twentieth-century French literature specialists, the essays focus on individual authors who for the most part continue to contribute to French letters and whose place in the French literary scene is firmly established. Contents
Introduction. The Contemporary Novel in France: A Generation of Writing and Criticism, by William Thompson
I. Continuing "Traditions" and Changing Styles
Autobiographical Fictions, by Raylene Ramsay
Julien Green, by Robert Stanley
Julien Gracq, by Michel Viegnes
Marguerite Duras, by Thomas Broden
Robert Pinget, by Robert Henkels
II. Innovations in Language and Form
Philippe Sollers, by Katherine C. Kurk
Jean Ricardou, by Tobin Jones
Jacques Roubaud, by Susan Ireland
H l ne Cixous, by Martine Motard-Noar
Jean Echenoz, by William Cloonan
III. Writing, History, and Myth
Elie Wiesel, by Jack Kolbert
Andr e Chedid, by Debbie Mann
Michel Tournier, by Susan Petit
Patrick Modiano, by Katheryn Wright
Monique Wittig, by Laurence M. Porter
IV. New Narratives, New Traditions
Beno te Groult, by Catherine Slawy-Sutton
Dominique Fernandez, by Marie-Th r se Noiset
Yann Queff lec, by Paul Raymond C t
Patrick Drevet, by Gervais Reed
Jean-Philippe Toussaint, by Roy C. Caldwell
William Thompson is assistant professor of French at the University of Memphis. He is an editor of the annual French XX Bibliography and has published articles and reviews in LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory; Tennessee Philological Bulletin; and The French Review.


In a controversial essay that appeared in the Stanford French Review in 1991, Antoine Compagnon lamented what he called the "diminishing canon" of French literary studies in the United States, contending that the focus of French specialists in America has become increasingly limited and that the number of authors deemed worthy of analysis has consequently diminished. The favorites (Proust and Duras are the two he mentions by name) undergo a seemingly endless barrage of analysis while other, equally talented and intriguing writers receive scant attention-both those whose careers have long reached a conclusion and those more contemporary writers who have received critical or popular acclaim in France, but who remain relatively obscure in the United States. Another phenomenon on which Compagnon touches is the fascination by many American literature specialists with postwar French thought (literary, sociological, and philosophical; structuralism, poststructuralism, deconstruction, feminism, etc.) -- again at the expense of novelists, poets, and playwrights, in other words, those writers who have been the traditional focus of literary analysis. Few major institutions of higher education in the United States today do not have in their curriculum at least one course on or encompassing literary theory from France. Familiarity with literary theory has increasingly become a prerequisite for young scholars attempting to obtain an academic position in the area of French literary studies, and the likes of Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, and their successors are the subjects of an overwhelming number of scholarly books and articles.

These latter authors have intrigued both French and North American intellectual circles and inspired a generation of critics and imitators.

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