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Title: From naturalism to decadence : the novels of Edmond de Goncourt
Author: Ashley, Katherine
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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The aim of this thesis is to provide a coherent study of Edmond de Goncourt’s four solo novels - La Fille Elisa (1877), Les Frères Zemganno (1879), La Faustin (1882), and Chérie (1884) - in terms of Naturalism and Decadence and the changing literary field of late nineteenth-century France. The thesis approaches Goncourt’s solo novels as novels in their own right rather than simply as extensions of the joint oeuvre of Goncourt brothers. The first chapter, as well as providing an overview of the state of Goncourtian studies, furnishes background information on the joint writings of the Goncourt brothers and on the various literary movements of the nineteenth century. The second chapter is devoted to paratexts and demonstrates, in the first instance, how the title changes of the joint and solo nóvels offer insights into Edmond de Goncourt’s evolving literary aesthetic. The chapter then moves on to a detailed analysis of the prefaces to Edmond de Goncourt’s novels and argues that Goncourt used the prefaces to simultaneously establish his authority as the founder of Naturalism and to distance himself from the movement in order to present his solo novels as initiating a new mode of literature. The third chapter studies the concept of the ‘document humain’ and its role in the process of literary creation in Edmond de Goncourt’s novels. The chapter makes use of archival material - the Goncourt correspondence - and begins with a discussion of the (changing) nature of the document, drawing on examples from La Fille Elisa. It then enters into a textual analysis of the three final novels and argues that while a Naturalist documentary apparatus is retained by Goncourt, the thematic ends to which this documentary process is used are increasingly decadent in nature in the later novels.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available