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Title:Voice, Silence and Narrative Distance in the Stories of Prosper Merimee
Author(s):Cropper, Corry Leigh
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Talbot, Emile J.
Department / Program:French
Discipline:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Abstract:Prosper Merimee's short stories represent for some "a new art form in French literature" (Sachs 77). The uniqueness and "newness" of Merimee's stories is the result of a striking narrative distance employed at a historical moment where proximity is the norm. The Romantics favored an esthetics of unfulfilled desire, emotional effusion and emotional engagement. Merimee's narrators instead disengage themselves from the tales they narrate, leaving the characters on their own in an irrational fictional world. Where practitioners of the nouvelle before Merimee were quick to justify their characters' actions or explain the existence of their narratives with a concluding moral, Merimee's stories defy simple interpretation by silencing important events or by restricting access to characters' thoughts. He thereby creates distant characters of exotic otherness whose actions his narrators seem unable to explain. The distance between the narrator (and by extension the reader) and his characters is largely created through an innovative use of represented speech, polyphonic irony, antithesis, narrative perspective (focalization) and ellipsis. Characters' voices are predominantly represented directly, cut off from the narrator's dominant level of enunciation, confined behind bars of punctuation. Their voices are ironized by a narrator who appears unable to understand the strong emotions which they exhibit. Important events which would enable readers to understand the characters' motivations are entirely left out or left unexplained. Narratives are built upon the unstable foundation of antithesis, leaving characters and readers in a position of hesitation when seeking sure points of reference within Merimee's texts. The distance in Merimee's narratives is the source of uneasiness felt by readers who are hard pressed to feel comfortable with the opacity of apparently transparent texts. In addition, it is the source of Merimee's unique contribution to French literature.
Issue Date:1998
Type:Text
Language:English
Description:129 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1998.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/86292
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9904426
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:1998


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