Textual games, intertextual readings: ludic dimensions in story and style in the works of Jean-Philippe Toussaint Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Glasco, Sarah L.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • Author of nine texts published by Editions de Minuit, Belgian writer Jean-Philippe Toussaint emerged onto the literary scene with his first novel in 1985. From the beginning, humor has been one of his trademarks, slapstick and crude at times, darker, more subversive, and subtler at others. While scholars all recognize the presence of humor in his works, none have really concentrated solely on this author's novels with the depth that they demand in terms of why they make us smile and even laugh. Hence, this is precisely what this dissertation accomplishes. The focus revolves around all of the playful aspects of Toussaint's texts in order to show how the author, as he has stated himself, privileges style over story. In the 1980's and 1990's, his works were often characterized as minimalist, and it is rather from this perspective that so many studies have been published. However, as his writing has evolved over the years, this description no longer seems to be valid in relation especially to his most recent works. Thorough examinations of semantic and syntactic fields have been initiated in this study in order to link the author's ludic sensibilities to his style, despite the fact that the content of the texts often contains much humor. Furthermore, the notion of intertextuality as a ludic device as well as incongruities in both text and context are also explored in detail. Toussaint alludes to numerous authors' works, from Pascal, Flaubert, Gide, and Proust, to Apollinaire, Beckett, Nabokov, and Kawabata among others. Although the stories themselves are often humorous on the surface, the vast pleasure of this author's texts resides in the writing itself, the narrative style and the dialogue between his and other texts, details sometimes so subtle that they are easily overlooked.
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  • La Quérière, Yves de
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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