Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 February 2021
This chapter maps a number of the key movements in French theoretical writing on the novel since the 1950s. It begins with an examination of Roland Barthes’s hostility to the novel genre in Le Degré zéro de l’écriture (1953) and considers the significance of that hostility in relation to Barthes’s later writings and to a number of influential theories of the novel that had appeared earlier in the twentieth century. Subsequently, it describes the place of the novel in works by several leading literary theorists and philosophers, including Pierre Bourdieu, Gilles Deleuze, Gérard Genette, Félix Guattari and Georges Poulet, and positions those works in the context of the intellectual movements, trends and critical approaches with which they have been associated (narratology, phenomenological criticism, structuralism and post-structuralism, for example). The final part of the chapter moves away from theories about the novel and explores both the novel’s theory (theories that belong to or come from the novel) and the work of post-war French authors whose writing can be said to straddle literature and theory.
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