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Authors: Schoenfeldt, Amanda Ilene Mazur
Advisors: Bellos, David
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: creolization
French language
Subjects: Literature
French literature
Caribbean studies
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is a critical study of the use and creation of alternative forms of language in French and Francophone literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It examines authors’ extension of the boundaries of standard language not only through sociolinguistic variation but also through stylistic transgression. Through both means, the phenomenon of linguistic diversity in literature has enabled writers to infuse their texts with humor, irony, word play, and poetic invention. This creativity in representing marginal forms of language not only affirms the legitimacy of these variants as modes of communication but also reveals their stylistic potential as forms of high art. This study is structured around the works of four authors who demonstrate the stylistic potential of marginal French: Victor Hugo, Romain Gary, Eugène Ionesco and Patrick Chamoiseau. Hugo’s colorful thieves’ cant, Gary’s faulty Ajar-language, Ionesco’s absurdist impulse, and Chamoiseau’s French/Creole interlect each, in their own way, can be considered artistic attempts at “transcending” the conventions of standard language. Their highly stylized idiolects imbue texts with a certain degree of incomprehensibility that at once engenders an aesthetic experience and forces readers to participate in the decryption of meaning. By identifying the dynamic, interstitial space between reader comprehension and reader incomprehension of nonstandard language and the ways in which that space may be reduced by textual clues or narrative devices, this dissertation aims to demonstrate how didactic methods of incorporating nonstandard forms of language in literature may help readers to learn how to learn a “foreign language” (whether Creole, thieves’ cant, jargon, etc.) or, even, the polylinguism of one’s own language. Ultimately, the artistic idiolects of Chamoiseau, Gary, Ionesco and Hugo highlight the crucial roles of inventiveness and linguistic change in literature, and in doing so, intimate the ways in which all language constructions are more or less imagined.
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: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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