Temple of the unfamiliar: Childhood memories in Nina Bouraoui, Ying Chen, and Gisele Pineau

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Title: Temple of the unfamiliar: Childhood memories in Nina Bouraoui, Ying Chen, and Gisele Pineau
Author: Clarinval, Olivier, 1966-
Abstract: This dissertation is an analysis of the ways in which the remembered past of childhood is inscribed in four francophone novels written at the turn of the twenty-first century: Nina Bouraoui's L'âge blessé and Garçon manqué, Ying Chen's Le champ dans la mer, and Gisèle Pineau's L'espérance-macadam. These texts belong to a substantial corpus of contemporary narratives in which the remembering of childhood experiences plays a central role. Within that corpus we find a new approach to childhood emerging, one in which an unfamiliar past returns through the remembered voice of a wounded child. This voice overwhelms the text, fracturing the narrative through the irruption of images that it cannot contain. This dissertation is a study of the characteristics of this new "aesthetics of rupture." Memories of childhood in these texts are overshadowed by shattering past events that went unrecognized and unacknowledged. As a result of the wounds inflicted upon the child, the adult narrator remembers the past through physical symptoms of pain. Far from suturing the wounds of the past, remembering childhood becomes an incessant confrontational engagement with past traumas. The reader is then able to hear the scream of the wide-eyed child through a process of empathetic identification with the narrator's visceral memories. My introductory chapters provide a historical context to the development of representations of childhood in French and Francophone literature. Chapter III studies the ways in which childhood memories can actualize the past as a set of interruptive and destabilizing images. Theories of the non-representational revelation of the past serve as a starting point to my reading of Bouraoui's L'âge blessé. Chapter IV concentrates on the affective quality of memories so as to understand the narrator's ambivalent affective relationship to the past of childhood in Chen's Le champ dans la mer. Chapter V attempts to capture the ways in which the memory of a child's voice can be heard as a literary scream in Bouraoui's Garçon manqué. Chapter VI is a reading of Pineau's L'espérance-macadam in which I take into account the unseen gaze of the child to consider the role of hope in this text.
Description: ix, 213 p. A print copy of this title is available from the UO Libraries, under the call number: KNIGHT PQ673 .C53 2007
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/6208
Date: 2007-12


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