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Title: L'analyse de la (fausse) polyphonie dans l'oeuvre romanesque de Nancy Huston : pour une poétique de showing au service de l'humanisme noir
Authors: Front, Izabela
Advisor: Wandzioch, Magdalena
Komandera, Aleksandra
Keywords: Nancy Huston; literatura frankofońska
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Katowice: Uniwersytet Śląski
Abstract: The present dissertation offers a study of polyphony in Nancy Huston’s works. Author of novels, essays, plays, literary criticism, and children’s stories, Huston is today one of the most popular and valued francophone writers. As such, she and her texts have become an object of numerous scientific researches. Indeed, there are many articles as well as whole thesis dedicated to her works. However, those studies are limited to analysis of repeating motifs in Huston's novels, such as motherhood, feminism and human body. It is especially surprising given that throughout her works Huston experiments with generic and narrative form. The main aspect of her artistic wander is a multi-voiced narrative. The writer gives the floor to protagonists and in some of her books she goes even further by altogether dismissing the narrator. In consequence reader has to face a tangle of different, and sometimes event contradictory points of view. This brings to mind a question of how reader can decipher author's point of view, from which neither author nor reader can escape. The above statement brings about another question: should polyphony be read as an attempt to avoid subjectivity and gain the utmost of objectivity or should it be rather seen as a deft argumentative strategy which is engaged by Huston in order to, imperceptibly, make readers see things in the way author wants them to. The aim of the present study is to answer those questions. Even thought the notion of polyphony is far from being a new one, there is no up to date theory that covers the subject in the field of literature (Mikhail Bakhtin's theory introducing the notion of polyphony to literary studies goes back to 1929, a year when Problems of Dostoyevsky's Poetics was published). In response to this shortage the present dissertation combines several different methodologies. Thus three different areas of Huston's novels are analysed outlining three chapters of the study. The focus of the first chapter is an analyse of the characters. It embraces their internal configuration and systems they create together within a text and that are in fact an underframe of each novel. The study of the internal configuration, based on Vincent Jouve's theory of character's effect, shows the bipolar nature of Huston's protagonists that makes their understanding and interpretation problematic. On one hand the protagonists are repellent because of their immoral behaviour and on the other hand, thanks to their well outlined affective life, they inspire sympathy. The study of systems creadted by the protagonists, shaped by Algirdas Greimas' actantial model, shows that each character has a role to play within a story and is not there to present their individual and independent point of view but to convey, often in an indirect manner, the author's opinions. Moreover, this analyse indicates three great themes that lie behind Huston's works but that are expressed only in an implicit manner. They are conflicts between individuals and themselves, society and absurdity of human condition. The second chapter approaches the problem of narration and is inspired by works of American and German critics such as Wayne C. Booth, Seymour Chatman, Gregory Currie, Dorrit Cohn, Ansgar Nünning, Edward Branigan and David Bordwell. Three cases of narrative form present in Huston's novels are examined : dramatised novels (novels in which there is no narrator), novels with overt but unreliable narrator and novels with covert narrator. The conclusion of this analyse is that the most polyphonic texts are those in which there is a covered narrator while the texts without narrator, that at the beginning of the study seemed to be the most suitable to carry different points of view, came out to be the least polyphonic. The reason is that when a narrator, being author's spokesperson, is there, even though his voice is hardly audible, the text can bring about different points of view without a high risk of a wrong interpretation. On the other hand, when an author dismisses narrator and leaves reader without a guide but with numerous characters, the novel has to indicate more explicitly author's opinions so that reader does not get lost in a bewilderment of different points of view expressed by characters. In addition the dissertation reviews the definition of narrator and the frontier between the notions of narration, narrator and implied author. The last chapter argues that divers aesthetic categories used by Huston in her novels, which are mainly comic, tragic, beauty and ugliness introduce into the texts the apparent polyphony (that because of their ambiguous character) and at the same time they indicate the author's point of view. Moreover, they let Huston manipulate reader's aesthetical perception of certain phenomena (ageing, passage of time) and in this manner they let het influence the axiological perception of those issues. The conclusion that comes out of the research is the effectiveness of polyphonic technique. Polyphony itself comes out to be only an illusion but at the same time this illusion turns out to be a powerful rhetoric strategy, mainly thanks to its implicit character and the fact that it places Huston's novels on the side of showing that liberates them from the heavy didacticism of telling. Last but not least, the poetics chosen by Huston express her approach towards life and human beings which the research proposes to name "dark humanism". This approach does not ignore human weaknesses and faults but still sees extreme value of men's life.
Appears in Collections:Rozprawy doktorskie (W.Hum.)

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