Revolution and Terror in contemporary French fiction: exploring an ideological legacy.

01 October 2014 → 30 September 2017
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Other biological sciences
    • Other natural sciences
French fiction
Project description

This project sets out to understand the complex intertwining of literature, ideology and violence in

the novels of four prize-winning French authors. Patrick Deville, Pierre Michon, Olivier Rolin and

Antoine Volodine are often bracketed together as a generation of writers that have witnessed, and

some participated in, the ‘evolutionary years’that followed the 1968 upheaval.

The proposed project explores the processing of the ambiguous heritage of the French Revolution

in the authors’fictional work, and particularly their focus on Terror. 1789 indeed served as a frame

of reference for a series of twentieth century revolutions that degenerated into some of the most

destructive episodes in human history. The reference to the French Revolution therefore uncovers

historical patterns and allows for better insight into the mechanisms of mass violence.

Furthermore, when studying the implications of the revolutionary project, the four writers revisit

their own past, measuring the moral responsibility of a generation that has endorsed communist

regimes in the East and even ended up legitimising state terror.

The novels of Deville, Michon, Rolin and Volodine can be considered 'critical fictions' (D. Viart),

since they engage in historical and sociological debates while developing innovative writing

practices. I aim at investigating the new dynamics of reality and fiction these authors propose, and

the formal strategies they resort to in order to conduct their epistemological project.