Maupassant et ses lecteurs
The purpose of this thesis is to focus on an often neglected aspect of Maupassant's short stories, namely the nature of the relationship they trigger between the author, the text, and the reader. After examining the reception of Maupassant's works from a historical viewpoint, I concentrate on their appareil démarcatif, or key-points in terms of structure. This leads me to consider the impact of the paratext (titles, subtitles, epigraphs, and dedications), framing devices - a pattern that recalls the oral tale from which the written short story is derived - and closure on Maupassant's wide range of readers. The analysis concentrates mainly on the Contes et Nouvelles because their brevity and their characteristics make them ideal for a detailed study of the appareil démarcatif which governs their structure. The second major articulation of my thesis is to focus on the recurring themes and characters used by the author to make his fictional writings plausible. Because Maupassant did not prove exceptionally original in his use of these thematic devices, this leads me to explore the conventions that rule his fictional universe. Basing my approach on Jonathan Culler's Stucturalist Poetics, I undertake to demonstrate that the vraisemblance at stake in Maupassant's texts proceeds from four levels of conventions, each linked to a particular thematic object. While the notion of 'cultural vraisemblance' concerns characters, who remain highly stereotypical in both an attempt to familiarise the reader with the contextual content and a conscious wish to maintain the concision of the story, that of the 'conventionally natural' depends heavily on metalanguage ; the plot and themes are in turn affected by the genericity of the text. The fourth level, constituted by the ironic content, is set apart as a level which contaminates the other three.