La nouvelle Babel: langage, identite et morale dans les oeuvres de Emil Cioran, Milan Kundera et Andrei Makine

Catherine Rey

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The subject of this thesis is an examination of the acquisition in language of a new country for three Eastern European writers exiled in France. For such writers, art and life become inseparable: just as the experience of geographical displacement liberates the writer so it liberates his language. This new language becomes a field of experimentation, in which the conflicts that precipitated exile are resolved. Departure necessitates the abandonment of the mother tongue: for Cioran, Romanian; for Kundera, Czech; for Makine, Russian. For each of these three writers, studied in this thesis, the adoption of French as the language of literary expression was a decisive act. Geographically and spiritually he and his text are redefined. Separated from familiar landmarks, each finds a new terrain in the language of the creative text, a place, a private space, in which to express the realities of his new self. On the one hand this new paradigm is the expression of a rejection of a past and a tradition; on the other hand it is essential in the process of coming to self-understanding. For Cioran, Kundera and Makine the French language provides a foil to their own ruptured, fragmented, traumatised or guilt-ridden native identities. In each case the adoption of French with its concomitant stereotypical qualities and values constitutes a dialectical process of coming to a clearer sense of self.
Original languageFrench
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2005

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