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France in FluxSpace, Territory and Contemporary Culture$
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Ari J. Blatt and Edward Welch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941787

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941787.001.0001

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French Edgeland Poetics

French Edgeland Poetics

Topography and Ecology in Jean Rolin’s Les Événements

Chapter:
(p.161) Chapter Seven French Edgeland Poetics
Source:
France in Flux
Author(s):

Joshua Armstrong

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781786941787.003.0010

As the natural spaces of the European countryside are increasingly micro-managed and diminished, they lose their timeless pastoral feel and come to serve, rather, as amorphous liminal spaces where one urban site ends and another begins: ‘edgelands,’ as British poets Roberts and Farley call them. And yet, as philosopher Edward Casey points out, there can be no oikos—no ‘ecology,’ no ‘dwelling’—without edges. And therefore, although we typically pay little attention to them, such edges, in their silent, unnoticed way, crucially subtend, give shape to, and have much to reveal about the urban environments we inhabit. In Jean Rolin’s Les Événements (2015), the focus of this chapter, we follow a narrator whose attempt to escape a near-future France in the throes of civil war takes him across the back roads of just such a countryside. Avoiding the senseless war, the narrator navigates an edgeland network of fields, ditches, and rivers. There, where long-abandoned industrial sites neighbour shopping centre parking lots, and where, in Rolin’s fiction, highways serve as battle fronts, Rolin sketches the unique and melancholic topography of an unnoticed, undervalued, and fragile ecosystem just as threatened by industry and urban sprawl as by the ravages of war.

Keywords:   Post-industrial, Jean Rolin, Contemporary French Novel, Ecocriticism, Edgelands

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