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Type: Thesis
Title: Parole de narrateurs : Figures de l'énonciation dans le récit français moderne
Author: Braux, Marianne
Issue Date: 2019
School/Discipline: School of Humanities : French Studies
Abstract: This thesis argues that the meaning of a literary text lies to a large extent in the specific positioning of its narrator not only vis·a·vis the diegetic world s/he unfolds but also in relation to her/his own discourse. The second point refers to what French linguists call the enonciation as the process of speaking, in opposition to the enonce which is the result of this process. Drawing on serval linguistic and narratological theories such as Emile Benveniste's theory of the enonciation and Gerard Genette's description of the narrative voice, this thesis follows the idea that any narrative is necessarily led by an I, whether s/he declares itself as such or on the contrary hides behind the related events. Against a certain conception of the narrative discourse consisting in postulating a void at the origin of the text, this work argues in favour of an incarnate enunciation. In comparison with other acts of language, the characteristic of the narrative act is to make the reader forget that someone is speaking, but it can be argued that it is largely in the traces of the enunciation that the reader really encounters a text. In other words, a text will offer an aesthetic experience all the greater that it will possess a real enunciative force. In this perspective, it is a question of showing that there is no enunciative void but only a reduction, an increase or a transfer of the vocal presence, acting in a continuum. The narrative has never ceased to explore the possibilities of the continuum, from the feigned disappearance of the narrator to his/her notable presence. The central question here is: who is speaking here, and from where? Consequently, the concepts of place and voice are at the centre of this work, interested in the different degrees of the narrator's presence. The term "narrator" has to be understood as a figure constructed in and by the discourse, following a logic of staging (in French, mise en scene) by which a subject of enunciation strives in its own way to "pitch his voice", to use an expression used by Dominique Rabate about the contemporary narrative but which seems to us appropriate to the whole literature. By closely "listening" to six texts chosen for the strength of their vocality, the analysis thus follows, step by step, the subject of enunciation in the narrative text. The aim will be to make the singular voice of the texts resonate, a voice which makes each of them unique and, at the same time, brings them together towards a common horizon, that of the individual speech as an unfailing intersubjective link within the shared language. The course of the texts has been developed chronologically in order to highlight the process of "radicalization" of the question of enunciation from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. It is obviously not a matter of saying that this question was less present before than it is today - we are facing a question inherent in language that the mere appearance of a narrator, however classic it may be, is enough to ask. But by looking at a sufficiently broad period, the reader of the thesis will be able to appreciate how the question has become, in contemporary narrative, highly problematic, how the text itself has begun to articulate this in new and more explicit scenarios of the narrative instance. This is particularly evident in Annie Ernaux' latest novel, Memoire de jille, in which the narrator seems to be in search a voice. I describe the writer's effort to flnd her place in the uncettain space of speech through the staging of a dissociated I between narrating subject and narrated subject. This contrasts with the first text studied, Victor Segalen's Les Immemoriaux, where, implicitly, the narrator takes on a defined identity and place resulting from a series of transfers of enunciation aiming at restoring to the Other, the Maori poeple, his word and memory. In between, we encounter various enunciative postures that broaden the spech·um of the narrator's staging modalities. The texts chosen reveal a certain number of figures on this spectrum such as the spokesperson's position, free indirect style, repetition, neutrality or metaphor. Clearly, this work cannot not claim to be exhaustive. The heterogeneity of the corpus is not enough to account for all the possibilities o~fered by this enunciative continuum that allows literature to constantly renew itself. Moreover, my interest was above all of a methodological nature; that is why I decided to devote each chapter to a particular text, introducing the whole by means of a theoretical reflection which then allowed the most immanent and complete approach possible to the works. It seems difficult to consider the problem of enunciation without looking at the texts individually, because it is as a vector of meaning that we have addressed it here. In Victor Segalen's work, the narrator appears as a stranger, at the limit of the impenetrable, worried by the loss of words containing the memory of his Maori people. By establishing a stable and unique linguistic system affecting the French language, Segalen creates an opaque narrative mimicking the hermeticism and rhythm of sacred recitations, with the aim of giving the Maori back their voice. This reversal of the European and Tahitian perspectives is confirmed in my analysis of the different transfers of enunciation by which the narrator moves from the common European place to the place of the Other. Although the narrator only appears halfway through the narrative in the form of an impersonal and collective on (in English, "one"or "we"), the narrator of Les Immemoriaux is extremely present in his narrative. His voice is inserted into the Tahitian landscape in the manner of that of the main protagonist, Terii the reciter, to lead the reader into a completely foreign world where he is constantly losing his bearings. In Jean Giono's Le Chant du monde, my interest lies in the detached status of the voice beyond the subject that carries it. I analyse the traces of this excessive enunciation in the metaphorical discourse of the work, observing how the use of the imaginary constantly overwhelmes the diegetic universe. Metaphor as an organizing principle not only of the diction but also of the action of the novel itself, the hero being led to detach himself from the visible (the referential discourse) and to learn the b-a-ba of poetic life that knows how to go beyond appearances, to realize himself in the fusion with the Night, embodied in the brilliant character Clara the blind. The chapter on Ailleurs by Henri Michaux addresses the question of the unsaid through the analysis of the narrator's effort to present himself under the mask of a scientist from whom nothing escapes except himself in his desire to resemble the other. Thus I identify the true function of the narrative in Ailleurs as the remediation by discourse of the chasm that separates the narrator from the inhabitants of the imaginary countries, a separation represented by the wall in the masturbation episode. A wall reflecting both the obstacle against which the narrator never ceases to come up against in the intercultural experience, and this "unknown close to the known" to which he tries to bring the visited countries back. This study would not have been complete without a mention of the humour of the text, based on a powerful ironic enunciation, the place par excellence of the unspoken and the dissimulation contributing to reinforce the nomadism of Michaux, the subject of the ironic enunciation not knowing, said Jankelevitch, where to "pitch his tent". In Marguerite Duras' La mort dujeune aviateur anglais, I turn to the literary topos of the unspeakability of death. In addition to the removal of the logos implied by the confrontation with death, this text also calls into question the narrative language, whose function of configuring phenomenological time is blocked by the resistance of death represented by "the fact of the grave". Unable to assume a properly narrative enunciation, the subject ends up rejecting the whole language in order to remain in the status of non-subject, the only depositary of the first infra-linguistic experience and therefore of the truth of the perceived phenomenon, which language risks distancing. Hence the importance of the visual medium which occupies a predominant place in the text because of its supposed capacity to stick to reality. In search of elements capable of showing this "secondarity" of language in relation to what is not patt of it but can be traced in the enunciation, I finally examine at the great emotion that characterizes this narrative, an emotion that invites us to listen to the voice of the text, its silences and its cries. Annie Ernaux's autobiography Memoire de fille confronts us with the most problematic aspect of enunciation for those who wish to build a narrative identity, inseparable from an enunciative identity. The narrator of the novel, in fact, is not only looking for a story that brings together all her experiences in a logical narrative, but also a voice. Acknowledging the intrinsic division in the autobiographical narrative between the narrative subject (the woman of 2014) and the narrated subject (the girl of 1958), Ernaux opts for a pronominal dissociation producing a broken and uncertain voice, which resolves at the end of the novel in the definitive assumption of the I, coinciding very significantly with the coming into writing. Even if it is to be hoped that Ernaux will publish a new autobiographical novel in the future, it can in any case be said that Memo ire de fille constitutes, as a narrative of the origins (including the enunciative origin), an ideal conclusion to her oeuvre. All the more ideal as it invites the reader, in a way, to reread the whole work in the light of this founding event. In Lydie Salvayre's Pas pleurer, the narratof' delves into the history of the Spanish civil war through the contrasting accounts of her mother and Georges Bernanos. I show that the emotional impasse in which the nanator finds herself is what the text is in charge of processing on the one hand, and what explains its narrative structure on the other. The enunciative system of the novel reveals the narrator's position as an empathic spokesperson, unintentionally revealing her emotion in the ventriloquist nature of her voice, particularly evident in the random presence of maternal words in the narrative discourse. The emotional charge of the heterolingual statements and the disruption of the situation of communication they imply have led to the idea of an "enunciative letting go" which is confirmed in the contrasting mimicry of the narrator's discourse, attracted sometimes by her mother's linguistic freedom and sometimes by Bernanos' beautiful language, to the point of producing a resolutely Baroque novel. In order to further grasp the literary stakes of this enunciative release, I continue this study with a critical analysis of the Italian, German and English translations of the novel. By chance, the three translations showed three different and gradual enunciative positions, from a logic of renunciation taking as a point of support the only figure of the narrator, to a logic of re/mediation based on that of the author.
Advisor: Edwards, Natalie
Poiana, Peter
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2019
Keywords: Enunciation
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