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Title: Retours à la terre dans la fiction française et francophone du XXème siècle : traumatismes territoriaux et échecs fertiles. Pierre-Jakez Hélias, Kateb Yacine, Albert Cohen, Samuel Beckett
Authors: Sanquer, Marie
Advisors: Benhaïm, André
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Keywords: Retour à la terre
Return to the land
territorial trauma
traumatisme territorial
Subjects: Literature
Comparative literature
African literature
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In France of the early 1900s, the expression “return to the land” (“retour à la terre”) became a recurrent trope in the public sphere. Coined in reaction to the rise of mechanization and urbanization, it was synonymous with nostalgia for the pre-industrial era and bygone moral values: a modern version of the myth of the lost Golden Age that profoundly affected lived and imagined territorialities. The present dissertation studies authors at the margins of production of the political discourses that generated the declinist rhetoric of the return to the land generally associated with nationalist and fascist writers. Relying on the concept of deterritorialization developed by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari and on the debunking of the self-proclaimed “moderns” by Bruno Latour, the present work reads the return to the land in the light of territorial phenomena that affected world geopolitics and, ultimately, art. It aims to show how these writers explored the impact of territoriality on the shaping of identity and to explain why they systematically staged the return to the land as a failed attempt. The title of the present study is Retours à la terre dans la fiction française et francophone du XXème siècle: Traumatismes territoriaux et échecs fertiles (Returns to the Land in French and Francophone Fiction of the XXth century: Territorial Traumas and Fertile Failures). The first chapter on Breton writer Pierre Jakez-Hélias questions the possibility of returning to the land after rural exodus and the disappearance of peasant societies. The second chapter on Algerian writer Kateb Yacine raises the same issue after colonial occupation and the dismantling of tribal societies. The third chapter on Jewish writer Albert Cohen addresses the question from the point of view of a diasporic people whose sociability was forged in exile. The fourth chapter on Irish writer Samuel Beckett studies how changes in the perception of territoriality affected literature itself. Ultimately, the failure to the return to the land sustains the flow of fictions that seek to move beyond a traditional understanding of territoriality and to explore new forms of territorialities.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: fr
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

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