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Title:Games at play in "La Chartreuse de Parme"
Author(s):Taylor, June Ellen
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Talbot, Emile J.
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Abstract:Stendhal's La Chartreuse de Parme tells the story of a tragic love between two isolated individuals against the backdrop of a corrupt court. Yet, it is still a playful text which comprises covert literary games. By analyzing puns, italics, numbers games, syllable reversals, and anagrams, investigative readers uncover/discover secret messages in the narrative. Some of these literary games evidence obvious authorial intent and therefore function as private jokes between Stendhal and his readers. Others, although reader speculated, are nonetheless valid as their meanings are corroborated by the text itself.
Chapter 1 of this dissertation examines Stendhal's reliance on overt games. Chess, whist, backgammon, improvisational theatre, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, dancing, and so on, are highly esteemed by the characters at play in the novel. This underscoring of overt games demonstrates that games and play were very much in the forefront of Stendhal's thoughts while he was writing his masterpiece. Chapter 2 analyzes the novelist's use of laughter. The authorial device of enigmatic laughter leads the investigative reader to conclude that the characters in the novel occasionally laugh at the language of the text which engulfs them. This gesture stimulates the reader to further examine the language of the narrative and uncover/discover additional reasons for laughter through literary play. Chapter 3 focuses on Stendhal's artistic vision of literature as a source/force meant to entertain, relax, and transform its readers. This vision allows us to redefine "The Happy Few" by de-emphasizing the elitist "few" and reemphasizing its epithet "happy." These three chapters function as the necessary background which preface and support chapter 4 where covert literary games, embedded in puns, italics, numbers games, syllable reversals, and anagrams are exposed and analyzed.
This playful approach to Stendhal confirms the novelist's interest and insistence on reader imagination, speculation, and cooperation. The investigative readers willing to uncover/discover covert literary play, in effect, participate in the artistic process. In so doing, they cooperate with Stendhal in the re/creation of his text.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Taylor, June Ellen
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512569
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512569

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