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Title: (Re-)Mystifying the city : the mystères urbains and the palimpsest, 1842-1905
Author: Wigelsworth, Amy Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 3625
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis uses the palimpsest as an interpretative lens through which to consider various rewritings of Eugène Sue’s Mystères de Paris. The corpus date range reflects the extent of the mystères urbains phenomenon, from 1842, when serial publication of Sue’s novel began, to 1905, when serialization of Jules Lermina’s Mystère-ville was completed, and after which the mystères tended to adopt new settings and new preoccupations. Chapters I and II provide introduction and contextualization. Chapter III analyses the paratextual matter used to ‘package’ the texts, specifically prefaces, footnotes and illustrations. Chapter IV considers issues of identity, namely the emergence of the detective character, the role played by secret societies, and the implications of rewriting gender roles. Chapter V deals with geographical and temporal transpositions and Chapter VI compares feuilleton and book versions, as well as examining theatre adaptations and parodies. By way of conclusion, Chapter VII underlines the enduring relevance of the mystères urbains, as well as suggesting avenues for future research. The characteristic common to these rewritings is an insistent self-consciousness. Paratexts impinge on texts and become, in an irreverent parody of their own conventions, complicit in the mystification of the reader. Extra-diegetic phenomena, such as the emergence of the detective character, the rise of an eclectic, indeterminate group of popular readers, and the conflation of reading and writing activities encouraged by the serial form, are reproduced en abyme within the novels. Similarly, geographical and temporal transpositions transcend their diegetic category, repeatedly proving themselves to have a meta-diegetic resonance. American-set mystères reflect the Americanization of culture, while temporal transpositions cultivate confusion between Histoire and histoire. The reader’s attention is deliberately diverted from the mysteries of the cities to the machinations of the text itself. This self-reflexivity is characteristic of literary modernity, but especially prominent in these mystères urbains, where the relationship between text and context is a significant one. The city provides not only the subject matter of the mystères, but also the forum for the production, consumption, reception and rewriting of the texts.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available