Aphorism in the Francophone Novel of the Twentieth Century

Aphorism in the Francophone Novel of the Twentieth Century

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 160
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    Aphorism in the Francophone Novel of the Twentieth Century
    Book Description:

    Aphorism in the Francophone Novel of the Twentieth Century includes critical readings of Terre des hommes by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Alexandre Chenevert by Gabrielle Roy, Gouverneurs de la rosée by Jacques Roumain, Pluie et vent sur Télumée miracle by Simone Schwarz-Bart, La route des Flandres by Claude Simon, Présence de la mort by C.F. Ramuz, and Neige noire by Hubert Aquin. Bell addresses the problems inherent in the term aphorism, the narrative and discourse function of aphorism within the genre of the novel, the interrelation between the structure of aphorism and the epistemological and hermeneutical functions this sub-genre may perform as a component part of the narrative fabric, the "national" character of aphoristics, and the problems that arise from "anthologizing" a novel's aphorisms.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6639-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    This study explores how francophone authors use aphorism in seven novels published in the twentieth century. To be more exact, we will consider how writers conceive their own aphorisms and incorporate them into a novel’s narrated chain of events.

    No substantial investigation of aphorism in the contemporary French-language novel has been undertaken to date. Therefore, as a point of departure it seems advisable to take into account two seminal studies before embarking on such a project.

    Jefferson Humphries, inThe Puritan and the Cynic: Moralists and Theorists in French and American Letters(1987), focuses on aphorism in seventeenth-century French prose...

  4. 2 Aphorism in Twentieth-Century Narrative Prose in French: Theoretical Considerations
    (pp. 7-36)

    In reading Mme de Lafayette’sLa Princesse de Clèves,written during the period when the Frenchmoralisteswere publishing many volumes of sententious formulations, we should not be surprised to encounter such propositions as “Les paroles les plus obscures d’un homme qui plaît donnent plus d’agitation que les déclarations ouvertes d’un homme qui ne plaît pas” (294). For a moment this sentence, cast suddenly in the present tense rather than in thepassé simple,interrupts the narrative flow and calls attention to itself.

    What, however, are we to think of such interventions in the case of twentieth-century narrative prose? For...

  5. 3 Terre des hommes
    (pp. 37-49)

    It is not surprising that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry would demonstrate a penchant for aphoristic discourse, in light of his early attraction to Nietzsche and his lifelong admiration for Pascal. Whether it is a question of influence or simple affinity matters little for our purposes here; suffice it to say that we are often reminded of the sententiousaphoristic style of these two predecessors as we read Saint-Exupéry’s text. The most clear-cut manifestation of the style in question occurs in Saint-Exupéry’s highly aphoristicCitadelle.Published after his death, the text in its formal structure effects something of a synthesis of Nietzsche’sZarathustra...

  6. 4 Alexandre Chenevert
    (pp. 50-61)

    An examination of the aphorisms in Gabrielle Roy’s most substantial work,Alexandre Chenevert,brings to light a version of humanism akin to Saint-Exupéry’s yet divergent from it in subtle but significant ways. FollowingTerre des hommeswithAlexandre Chenevertin this study constitutes an interesting exercise, for Saint-Exupéry exerted considerable influence on Roy’s thought and pen, and clear affinities exist between each of their bodies of writing.

    In an interview conducted shortly before Roy’s death, she declared: “I feel that I am a kindred spirit of Saint-Exupéry in the way that our writing is an echo both of our inner...

  7. 5 Gouverneurs de la rosée
    (pp. 62-70)

    In a study subtitled the “Life and Work of Jacques Roumain” Carolyn Fowler consolidates key information from a disparate secondary literature, examines significant new primary sources, and conducts interviews in order to provide a reliable overview of the Haitian author’s career. She echoes a unified critical view that Roumain’s final work,Gouverneurs de la rosée,represents a synthesis and a pinnacle within his literary production (248–9, 253–4).

    With regard to the use of aphorism in this text Fowler recognizes that Roumain intervenes in all his narrative fiction to “inject doctrine,” but particularly inGouverneurs de la rosée.Her...

  8. 6 Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle
    (pp. 71-78)

    Of the seven novels under consideration in this study, Simone Schwarz-Bart’sPluie et venthas generated the smallest amount of secondary literature. For example, no thoroughgoing analysis exists of the novel’s lingual or narratological features. A recent introduction to five francophone Caribbean authors by Beverly Ormerod may contain the most complete piece of criticism published thus far onPluie et vent.However, like the few other extant studies, it sets out mainly to summarize the plot, introduce characters, and detect recurring themes and motifs in the novel.

    Further, nothing indicates that a clearly identifiable influence within the Western literary tradition...

  9. 7 La Route des Flandres
    (pp. 79-92)

    The all too brief pages allotted here to Claude Simon’s best-known work will run counter to the critical mainstream, which posits the impracticability of establishing meaning from this novel’s narrative sequences. J.A.E. Loubère offers a tidy summary of the prevailing view of the secondary literature: “Far from bringing elucidation, the text [Simon] elaborates refuses to resolve itself in information. It demonstrates instead that it is the enemy of information, either because of its power to breed new texts ... or because of its tendency to peter out and vanish in the deserts of the imagination” (102). Immediately following this statement,...

  10. 8 Présence de la mort
    (pp. 93-100)

    In one of the more recent overviews of Ramuz’s work David Be van devotes only a single line toPrèsence de la mort(59). Instead, he turns his attention to three novels of the author’s mature period:La Grande Peur dans la montagne (1926), Farinet ou la fausse monnaie (1932),andDerborence(1934). Bevan and many other critics consider these later works to be Ramuz’s finest.

    Philippe Renaud implicitly challenges this prevalent view — that is, that Ramuz’s writing of the early and middle period is somehow inferior — when he writes in the preface to the 1978 republication ofPrésence de...

  11. 9 Neige noire
    (pp. 101-110)

    The critical bibliography at the end of a selection of Hubert Aquin’s essays, published in 1982 under the titleBlocs erratiques,lists well over a hundred studies of various lengths on the author’s work. A perusal of the topics covered indicates something of a critical morass.

    In reviewing a 1987 collection of articles on Aquin, Cedric May quickly detects the difficulties associated with scholarly treatment of Aquin’s texts: “Inevitably, I suspect, Aquin gets the last laugh from the grave. The contributors, though perfectly aware of the labyrinth of Aquin’s writing, have been lured into it.” May then contends: “But what...

  12. 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 111-116)

    Aphorism, while constituting a literary genreper se,can function concomitantly with a different genre — for example, the novel. Aphorisms deployed along with another genre serve both as a component of the overall text and as text in and of themselves. Given their differentiated identity, aphorisms display idiosyncratic powers of evocation peculiar to the genre. Because of its peculiar behaviour in relation to the narrated chain of events, aphorism often demands the reader’s focused attention. Once a reader becomes conscious of their rhetorical and semantic content, a novel’s aphorisms might do little more than support a traditional reading of the...

  13. A Terre des hommes
    (pp. 119-123)
  14. B Alexandre Chenevert
    (pp. 124-129)
  15. C Gouverneurs de la rosée
    (pp. 130-133)
  16. D Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle
    (pp. 134-135)
  17. E La Route des Flandres
    (pp. 136-140)
  18. F Présence de la mort
    (pp. 141-142)
  19. G Neige noire
    (pp. 143-146)
  20. References
    (pp. 147-150)
  21. Index
    (pp. 151-154)