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Beyond ReturnGenre and Cultural Politics in Contemporary French Fiction$
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Lucas Hollister

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781786942180

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786942180.001.0001

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The Story and the World (Jean Rouaud)

The Story and the World (Jean Rouaud)

(p.35) Chapter One The Story and the World (Jean Rouaud)
(p.iii) Beyond Return

Lucas Hollister

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines how the ‘return to the story’ has been used to further an anti-modernist agenda and to delegitimize avant-garde or experimental mid-century novelistic aesthetics. Specifically, it examines the work of Jean Rouaud, a writer whose investment in the ‘story’ is exemplary of a wholehearted adoption of an anti-modernist conception of literary return. Putting Rouaud’s sprawling and digressive essayistic adventure novel The Imitation of Happiness (2006) into dialogue with Rouaud’s fictional and essayistic production since the early 2000s, this chapter problematizes the literary historical narrative that underpins Rouaud’s ‘rehabilitation’ of the adventure novel. It then zooms out to consider how this anti-modernist emphasis on adventurous fiction is echoed in the rhetoric of the famous littérature-monde manifesto. A short analysis of littérature-monde then demonstrates how the return to the story functions not only as a literary history but also as a cultural map. This chapter concludes with a critique of the anti-modernist literary historical narrative of the ‘return to the story.’

Keywords:   Jean Rouaud, Michel Le Bris, Littérature-monde, Return to the Story, Modernism, Naturalism, Nouveau roman, Adventure, Literary History

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