Les parodies de la littérature naturaliste
The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the different ways in which naturalist fiction was parodied in France at the end of the nineteenth century. It demonstrates first of all the validity of approaching naturalist literature through the medium of parody by defining and explaining the interrelation between parody and naturalism. If parody, which inscribes texts within texts, seeks by its very nature to reveal the illusory status of literature and makes the reader aware of the literary medium, naturalist fiction obeys the opposite impulse: its mimetic pretences lead it to hide its literariness. The principal aim of the thesis is thus to determine whether and to what extent parody can undermine the mimetic strategies of naturalist literature; and whether parody led to a renewal of naturalist fiction as it has done with other kinds of fiction. The thesis is divided into three parts. Part 1 concentrates on the theory of parody and provides a survey of the different conceptions of parody through the centuries. Chapter 1 of Part 1 deals with definitions of parody as a relatively minor practice. Chapter 2 is devoted to parody as a key factor in the renewal of literary genres as well as being a constituent of modern and post-modern aesthetics. In Chapter 3, I outline a twofold approach to parody: I argue that some texts are parodic by nature and that other texts are potentially parodic. In the former case the text is intentionally parodic, whether the reader is capable of identifying parody or not. In the latter case the very intentionality of parody is put into question. For a comprehensive poetics of parody both modes must be taken into account. Part 2 examines the numerous parodies that arise in the context of the reception of naturalist literature. I have uncovered over a hundred of these multigeneric parodies, which have allowed me to establish an extensive bibliography of the parodies of naturalist literature. Even though some of these parodies can be thought of as slight from a literary point of view, they provide us with invaluable information on naturalism and its literary context. Besides their general sociological and documentary value, these parodies unveil completely unexplored aspects of the literary battle provoked by naturalist writings. In this way new light is shed on the process of reception of naturalist fiction. The parodic dimension that can be found in the works of the so-called second generation of naturalist writers - Paul Bonnetain, Leon Hennique, Henri Ceard and others - is discussed in Part 3 of the thesis. In their works naturalist themes and procedures often become mechanised and overcoded: the strategies used to explore the very limits of the naturalist genre range from the comic grotesque, to the 'shocking', to the absurd. I f in the parodies studied in Part 2 naturalism was parodied from outside, in this phase it is undermined from within by a ' fifty. Interestingly, such practices are also to be found in the works of major writers associated with the naturalist movement (Joris-Karl Huysmans and Octave Mirbeau). Thus I use parody or self-parody as an interpretative grid to cast a different light on certain naturalist writings. Even though parody does not really lead to the renewal of naturalist fiction, it sometimes gives rise to reflection on literariness and the writing process. Such a meta-fictional use of parody is fundamentally innovative and represents a modern trend already evident in the fiction of the last decades of nineteenth-century.