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35 - The Translingual Novel in French

from Part V - Fictions of the Fifth Republic: From de Gaulle to the Internet Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2021

Adam Watt
University of Exeter
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The chapter studies modern exophonic/translingual fiction in French, acknowledging its emergence as a recognizable phenomenon in the interwar period in the work of authors such as Irène Némirovsky, but exploring in particular its consolidation over the past three decades since the rise to prominence of authors such as Andrei Makine and Vassilis Alexakis in the 1980s. The consecration of translingual authors among those celebrated in the 2007 ‘littérature-monde’ manifesto is understood as an important stage in this process. The chapter interrogates the power of French literature to recuperate difference – whether linguistic, cultural or social – by conscripting translingual novelists to a national literary ‘project’ defined in terms of ethnolinguistic nationalism and the ‘genius of the French language’. The chapter explores these authors’ relationship to French language and literature, seen as ‘realms of memory’ in their own right. Translingual writing has, however, the potential to disrupt Pierre Nora’s limited and Hexagonal understanding of Frenchness: the corpus explored to demonstrate this possibility includes work by Akira Mizubayashi (of Japanese origin), Chahdortt Djavann (of Iranian origin), Vassilis Alexakis (of Greek origin) and Katrin Molnár (of Hungarian origin), all of whom fictionalize their acquisition of the French language and deploy this in various ways to test the limits of the contemporary ‘French’ novel.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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Further Reading

Ausoni, Alain, Mémoires d’outre-langue: l’écriture translingue de soi (Geneva: Slatkine, 2018)Google Scholar
Brincourt, André, Langue française, terre d’accueil (Monaco: Éditions du Rocher, 1997)Google Scholar
Delbert, Anne-Rosine, Les Exilés du langage: un siècle d’écrivains français venus d’ailleurs (1919–2000) (Paris: Pulim, 2005)Google Scholar
Dutton, Jacqueline, ‘World Literature in French, Littérature-Monde, and the Translingual Turn’, French Studies, 70.3 (2016), 404–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Forsdick, Charles, ‘French Literature as World Literature: Reading the Translingual Text’, in The Cambridge Companion to French Literature, ed. by Lyons, John (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 204–21Google Scholar
Gasquet, Axel and Suárez, Modesta (eds.), Écrivains multilingues et écritures métisses: l’hospitalité des langues (Clermont-Ferrand: Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2007)Google Scholar
Hargreaves, Alec G., Forsdick, Charles, and Murphy, David (eds.), Transnational French Studies: Postcolonialism and Littérature-Monde (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010)Google Scholar
Jouanny, Robert, Singularités francophones, ou choisir d’écrire en français (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kellman, Steven G., The Translingual Imagination (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000)Google Scholar
Kellman, Steven G. (ed.), Switching Languages: Translingual Writers Reflect on their Craft (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2003)Google Scholar
Kippur, Sara, Writing It Twice: Self-Translation and the Making of a World Literature in French (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Migraine-George, Thérèse, From Francophonie to World Literature in French: Ethics, Poetics, and Politics (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Porra, Véronique, Langue française, langue d’adoption: une littérature ‘invitée’ entre création, stratégies et contraintes (1946–2000) (Hildesheim: Olms, 2011)Google Scholar

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