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Title: Diaries real and fictional in twentieth-century French writing
Author: Ferguson, Samuel James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 3931
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Whereas the relationship between real autobiography and its fictional forms has been studied at length, the equivalent relationship for diaries has barely been acknowledged, let alone explored. This thesis follows the history of diary-writing – as a field that includes real and fictional diaries and the complex relations between them – in twentieth-century French writing. I take as my starting point the moment in the 1880s when, following a series of successful posthumous diary publications, a new generation of writers became aware that their own journaux intimes would probably come to be published, with considerable consequences for the way their literary œuvre and their very persona as an author (or their textual author-figure) would appear to readers. Of this generation, André Gide exerted by far the greatest influence over the course of diary-writing, and four works in particular experiment, in extremely diverse forms, with the literary possibilities of the diary: Les Cahiers d'André Walter (1891), Paludes (1895), Le Journal des faux-monnayeurs (1926), and his Journal 1889–1939 (1939). After the Second World War, diary-writing continued to draw on forms established by Gide, but now inflected by radical changes in attitudes towards the writing subject: Raymond Queneau's works published under the pseudonym of Sally Mara (1947–62) cast light on attitudes towards the diary at the time of a theoretical exclusion of the writing subject; Roland Barthes experimented with diaries at the point of a return of the writing subject (1977–79); and Annie Ernaux's published diaries between 1993 and 2011 demonstrate the role of diary-writing within the modern field of life-writing. Rather than making a gradual progress towards literary recognition, this history of diary-writing shows that, in a great variety of ways, diaries have consistently been used for their marginal or supplementary role, which simultaneously constructs and qualifies a literary œuvre and author-figure.
Supervisor: Jefferson, Ann; Garfitt, Toby Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literatures of Romance languages ; French ; Diaries ; French diaries - history and criticism ; Diary novels ; French literature ; Life writing ; Autobiography