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Vol. 25 (2010) through current issue
Nouvelles Ãtudes Francophones (NEF) is the official refereed journal of the International Council of Francophone Studies / Conseil International dâÃtudes Francophones (CIÃF). NEF publishes scholarly research in the language, arts, literatures, cultures, and civilizations of Francophone countries and regions throughout the world.
Space and Subjectivity in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction
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.
By the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Germany occupied one-third of French territory, thousands of Alsatians and Lorrainers had flooded into France, and 140,000 French soldiers had died. France’s crushing defeat in the most significant European armed conflict between the Napoleonic wars and World War I cast long shadows over military garrisons, meeting halls, and kitchen tables throughout the nation. Until now, no study has adequately addressed the complex, lasting effects of the war on the lives of ordinary French men and women. In this stimulating new book, Rachel Chrastil provides a lively history of French provincial citizens after the Franco-Prussian War as they came to terms with defeat and began to prepare themselves for a seemingly inevitable future conflict. Chrastil provides the first examination of the problems facing provincial France following the war and the negotiations between the state and citizen organizations over the best ways to resolve these issues. She also reinterprets postwar commemorative practices as an aspect of civil society, rather than as an issue of collective memory. By the 1880s, Chrastil shows, the Franco-Prussian War had receded far enough into the past for French citizens to reassess their roles during the war and reorient themselves toward the future. Believing that they had failed in their duties during the Franco-Prussian War, many French men and women argued that citizens could and should take responsibility for the nation’s war effort, even before hostilities began. To this end, they joined the Red Cross, gymnastics clubs, and commemorative organizations like the Souvenir Français, especially in areas of the country that had faced occupation and that anticipated future invasion. Using extensive archival and published sources, Chrastil deftly traces the evolution of these private or semiprivate associations and the ways in which those associations affected the relationship of citizens with the French state. Through a novel interpretation of these civilian groups, Chrastil asserts that the associations encouraged French citizens to accept and even to prolong World War I.
Bewilderments of Fiction
Jordan Stump had often contemplated the relationship between a translation and “the book itself,” ruminating on the intriguing inherent sameness and difference between the two. In The Other Book, Stump examines the “other” forms of a book and the ways in which they both mirror and depart from the original. Grounding his witty and original study in an exploration of four forms of Raymond Queneau’s Le chiendent—a copy, the manuscript, a translation, and a critical edition—Stump poses questions designed to help readers reconsider the nature of fiction and reading. Each form of Le chiendent both is and is not what we mean when we say "Le chiendent," yet the friction between their ways of being and that of “the book itself” proves unexpectedly productive, raising troublesome questions about the nature of textuality, reading, language, and knowledge. It also positions us to assess several answers proposed in response to such questions and to wonder about their usefulness. And as we consider those questions, we will have Queneau’s novel beside us, further confounding our attempts to answer—for our inability to answer those questions is precisely the point of The Other Book, as it is of Le chiendent.
Angelo Tasca from Italian Socialism to French Collaboration
Angelo Tasca, a pivotal figure in 20th-century Italian political history, and indeed European history, is frequently overshadowed by his Fascist opponent Mussolini or his Socialist and Communist colleagues (Gramsci and Togliatti). Yet, as Emanuel Rota reveals in this captivating biography, Tasca--also known as Serra, A. Rossi,Andre Leroux, and XX--was in fact a key political player in the first half of the 20th century and an ill-fated representative of the age of political extremes he helped to create. In A Pact with Vichy, readers meet the Italian intellect and politician with fresh eyes as the author demystifies Tasca's seemingly bizarre trajectory from revolutionary Socialist to Communist to supporter of the Vichy regime. Rota demonstrates how Tasca, an indefatigable cultural operator and Socialist militant, tried all his life to maintain his commitment to scientific analysis in the face of the rise of Fascism and Stalinism, but his struggle ended in a personal and political defeat that seemed to contradict all his life when he lent his support to the Vichy government.Through Tasca's complex life, A Pact with Vichy vividly reconstructs and elucidates the even more complex networks and debates that animated the Italian and French Left in the first half of the 20th century. After his expulsion from the Italian Communist Party as a result of his refusal to conform to Stalinism, Tasca reinvented his life in Paris, where he participated in the intense political debates of the 1930s. Rota explores how Tasca's political choices were motivated by the desperate attempt to find an alternative between Nazism and Stalinism, even when this alternative had the ambiguous borders of Vichy's collaborationist regime. A Pact with Vichy uncovers how Tasca's betrayal of his own ideal was tragically the result of his commitment to political realism in the brief age of triumphant Fascism. This riveting, perceptive biography offers readers a privileged window into one of the 20th century's most intriguing yet elusive characters. It is a must-read for history buffs, students, and scholars alike.
Literature, Travel, and Ethnography in French Modernity
Modernity has long been equated with motion, travel, and change, from Marx’s critical diagnoses of economic instability to the Futurists’ glorification of speed. Likewise, metaphors of travel serve widely in discussions of empire, cultural contact, translation, and globalization, from Deleuze’s “nomadology” to James Clifford’s “traveling cultures.” John Culbert, in contrast, argues that the key texts of modernity and postmodernity may be approached through figures and narratives of paralysis: motion is no more defining of modern travel than fixations, resistance, and impasse; concepts and figures of travel, he posits, must be rethought in this more static light. Focusing on the French and Francophone context, in which paralyzed travel is a persistent motif, Culbert also offers new insights into French critical theory and its often paradoxical figures of mobility, from Blanchot’s pas au-delà and Barthes’s dérive to Derrida’s aporias and Glissant’s diversions. Here we see that paralysis is not merely the failure of transport but rather the condition in which travel, by coming to a crisis, calls into question both mobility and stasis in the language of desire and the order of knowledge. Paralyses provides a close analysis of the rhetoric of empire and the economy of tourism precisely at their points of breakdown, which in turn enables a deconstruction of master narratives of exploration, conquest, and exoticism. A reassessment of key authors of French modernity—from Nerval and Gautier to Fromentin, Paulhan, Beckett, Leiris, and Boudjedra—Paralyses also constitutes a new theoretical intervention in debates on travel, translation, ethics, and postcoloniality.
little poems in prose
Between 1855 and his death in 1867, Charles Baudelaire inaugurated a new--and in his own words "dangerous"--hybrid form in a series of prose poems known as Paris Spleen. Important and provocative, these fifty poems take the reader on a tour of 1850s Paris, through gleaming cafes and filthy side streets, revealing a metropolis on the eve of great change. In its deliberate fragmentation and merging of the lyrical with the sardonic, Le Spleen de Paris may be regarded as one of the earliest and most successful examples of a specifically urban writing, the textual equivalent of the city scenes of the Impressionists. In this compelling new translation, Keith Waldrop delivers the companion to his innovative translation of The Flowers of Evil. Here, Waldrop's perfectly modulated mix releases the music, intensity, and dissonance in Baudelaire's prose. The result is a powerful new re-imagining that is closer to Baudelaire's own poetry than any previous English translation.
The author of Centuries of Childhood and other landmark historical works, Philippe Ariès (1914–1984) was a singular figure in French intellectual life. He was both a political reactionary and a path-breaking scholar, a sectarian royalist who supported the Vichy regime and a founder of the new cultural history—popularly known as l’histoire des mentalités—that developed in the decades following World War II. In this book, Patrick H. Hutton explores the relationship between Ariès’s life and thought and evaluates his contribution to modern historiography, in France and abroad. According to Hutton, the originality of Ariès’s work and the power of his appeal derived from the way he drew together the two strands of his own intellectual life: his enduring ties to the old cultural order valued by the right-wing Action Française, and a newfound appreciation for the methodology of the leftist Annales school of historians. A demographer by training, he pioneered a new route into the history of private life that eventually won him a wide readership and in late life an appointment to the faculty of the prestigious École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. At the same time, he fashioned himself as a man of letters in the intellectual tradition of the Action Française and became a perspicacious journalist as well as a stimulating writer of autobiographical memoirs. In Hutton’s view, this helps explain why, more than any other historian, Philippe Ariès left his personal signature on his scholarship.
Sport as Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century France