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.