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The Novel Map

Space and Subjectivity in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction

Patrick M. Bray

Publication Year: 2013

Focusing on Stendhal, Gérard de Nerval, George Sand, Émile Zola, and Marcel Proust, The Subject of Space: Mapping the Self in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction explores the ways that these writers represent and negotiate the relationship between the self and the world as a function of space in a novel turned map.


With the rise of the novel and of autobiography, the literary and cultural contexts of nineteenth-century France reconfigured both the ways literature could represent subjects and the ways subjects related to space. In the first-person works of these authors, maps situate the narrator within the imaginary space of the novel. Yet the time inherent in the text’s narrative unsettles the spatial self drawn by the maps and so creates a novel self, one which is both new and literary. The novel self transcends the rigid confines of a map. In this significant study, Patrick M. Bray charts a new direction in critical theory.


Published by: Northwestern University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book attests to my enduring fascination with spaces and places. While writing this book over the years, I have had the good fortune of hiking above an ocean of fog in Big Sur, sneaking into the catacombs of Paris at night, walking through an inhabited cemetery in Cairo, and contemplating an unending sea of cornfields in Champaign. ...

Author’s Note

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction. Here and There: The Subject in Space and Text

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pp. 3-18

Toward the end of October 1830, an unnamed young man, having bet and lost his last coin on cards at the Palais Royal, enters a curiosity shop on the Left Bank to while away the hours until the evening, when he can throw himself in the Seine under cover of darkness. ...

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Part I. Stendhal’s Privilege

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pp. 19-22

Stendhal, Dominique, Henry Brulard, M.B.A.A. (Monsieur Beyle, Ancien Auditeur), and Mr. Myself are some of the many names and pseudonyms that testify to the multiplicity of the subject Henri Beyle. In his writings, Beyle contradicts the mystification of identity, the will to hide behind an encoded pseudonym, ...

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Chapter One. The Life and Death of Henry Brulard

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pp. 23-40

The contradictions of its first two chapters orient the Vie de Henry Brulard, as a chaotic autobiographical discourse gives way to a linear narrative. Various styles and perspectives succeed each other as the narrator struggles to define the project and to summarize the “life” of Brulard. ...

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Chapter Two. The Ghost in the Map

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pp. 41-60

The incomplete fusion of autobiography and fiction allows the entry of the subject into text, it promises the only possibility of objective self-knowledge and creative self-definition. The tension between the identities of Beyle and Brulard can only be preserved if the text remains ambiguous: both autobiography and fiction, and neither one nor the other. ...

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Part II. Nerval Beyond Narrative

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pp. 61-64

Théophile Gautier was often an astute reader of his childhood friend Gérard Labrunie (known by his most common pseudonym, Gérard de Nerval). Gautier’s characterization of Nerval as a version of Stendhal without the irony is more apt than Gautier himself could have imagined. ...

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Chapter Three. Orientations: Writing the Self in Nerval’s Voyage en Orient

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pp. 65-84

Gérard de Nerval’s Voyage en Orient would appear to be the long first-person travel narrative of a Parisian erudite, who travels from Paris to Constantinople via Geneva, Constance, Vienna, Cerigo (Cythera), Cairo, and Beirut. Inscribed within the very popular genre of exotic travel literature, the text repeatedly claims to be the truthful account ...

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Chapter Four. Unfolding Nerval

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pp. 85-106

The Voyage en Orient reveals that the presence of the subject is constantly shifting, avoiding any definitive reading, escaping the fatalism of narrative. If the subject can be compared to any character and substituted in any text, if there are no limits either to metaphor or to the metamorphosis of language, ...

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Part III. Sand’s Utopian Subjects

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pp. 107-110

Of all the writers I study in this book, George Sand was the most successful, not only in terms of earning a living from her pen, but especially in her international celebrity during her lifetime. As Naomi Schor in George Sand and Idealism and others have shown, Sand’s innumerable novels and plays awarded her what seemed like ...

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Chapter Five. Drowning in the Text: Space and Indiana

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pp. 111-128

When Indiana was first published under the pseudonym G. Sand in 1832, the first reviewers proclaimed the new male writer a profound analyst of contemporary society, but at the same time one whose novel undoubtedly benefited from revisions by a woman’s pen; according to Sand’s Histoire de ma vie: ...

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Chapter Six. Carte Blanche: Charting Utopia in Sand’s Nanon

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pp. 129-146

George Sand’s last major novel, Nanon from 1872, narrates the appropriation of a tool of elite power, the Cassini “Carte générale de la France,” by a humble peasant girl, who uses these maps to internalize and negotiate the space of revolutionary France. The novel presents the history of the French Revolution from a displaced perspective: ...

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Part IV. Branching Off: Genealogy and Map in the Rougon-Macquart

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pp. 147-150

In examining Stendhal’s and Nerval’s novel maps, we have seen how intensely personal and autobiographical works invent layered spaces and new subjects. Likewise, in Sand’s fiction, characters imagine idealized, liberating spaces for women and men, spaces that could nonetheless exist in the real world. ...

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Chapter Seven. Zola and the Contradictory Origins of the Novel

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pp. 151-168

Naturalism, as Zola theorized it, merged for the first time in literary history the realist ambition of depicting social interactions with the scientific examination of what underlies those interactions. Mimesis surrenders to analysis as the naturalist novelist discovers the true cause of human behavior hidden under the surface ...

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Chapter Eight. Mapping Creative Destruction in Zola

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pp. 169-188

In the novels of the Rougon-Macquart, power resides in the ability to harness the destructive force of origins—of memory, of history, of heredity. In the beginning there was only the fateful “fêlure,” the crack that renders impossible a whole, univocal origin. The “fêlure” reproduces only itself as every successive generation invokes the authority ...

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Part V. Proust’s Double Text

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pp. 189-192

Marcel Proust’s monumental novel À la recherche du temps perdu captures the struggle to write the self in the spaces of the text, fictionalizing the process of the formation of textual subjectivity found in Stendhal’s and Nerval’s autobiographical texts, as well as the anguish of Sand’s fictional characters and of Zola in his dossiers préparatoires. ...

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Chapter Nine. The Law of the Land

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pp. 193-212

At the familiar beginning of À la recherche du temps perdu one finds in contradiction to the novel’s title, not a search for lost time, but the frantic search for a lost place. The narrator, writing in the ambiguous tense of habit, the imperfect, relates the trouble he has going to sleep and the even greater trouble he has of finding himself again upon waking. ...

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Chapter Ten. Creating a Space for Time

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pp. 213-228

The end of the Recherche leaves the reader with an unanswerable question. Is the novel the narrator is about to write the novel the reader is about to finish, or is it a virtual novel, existing somewhere beyond the reader’s imagination and the theoretical projections of the aging narrator? ...

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Conclusion. Now and Then: Virtual Spaces and Real Subjects in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 229-232

In nineteenth-century French literature, the self was written in text as a subject of space in works that upset the traditional generic boundaries of novel and autobiography. This subject of space emerging from the play of language in text projected an origin outside the text, in an autobiographical self inhabiting real-world places. ...


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pp. 233-254

Works Cited

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pp. 255-262


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pp. 263-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780810166387
E-ISBN-10: 0810166380
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810128668
Print-ISBN-10: 0810128667

Page Count: 285
Illustrations: 12 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1