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Title: The nouveau roman in Britain, 1957-73
Author: Guy, Adam
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis considers the early dissemination and critical/cultural/literary reception of the nouveau roman in Britain, roughly between the years 1957–73. The nouveau roman is considered in its capacity as an avant-garde grouping of writers and texts coming from France, and as articulated at the interface of the novel and its theoretical metalanguage; the main nouveaux romanciers considered are Michel Butor, Marguerite Duras, Robert Pinget, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, and Claude Simon. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which the nouveau roman's status as nouveau was presented in Britain in the period in question. One of the major arguments of the thesis is thus: that the question of the nouveauté of the nouveau roman became a nodal point for negotiations over the legacy of modernism, and over the meaning of the 'contemporary' in literature in the postwar period. Part I charts the emergence of the nouveau roman in Britain. It looks first at the origins and the methods of the nouveau roman's initial dissemination, drawing on a range of previously undocumented archival sources. The main focus here is Calder & Boyars – the nouveau roman's main British publisher – and in particular the notions of publics that framed its activities involving the nouveau roman. Subsequently, the nouveau roman's British reception is considered with reference to an extensive survey of periodicals and books. Part II looks at the literary impact of the nouveau roman. First, a range of novels is considered as bridging the critical and the literary response in Britain to the nouveau roman. The authors considered are: Pamela Hansford Johnson, J. I. M. Stewart, Muriel Spark, John Fowles, J. B. Priestley, William Cooper, Rayner Heppenstall, and Christine Brooke-Rose. Then, other novels are considered more directly within the domain of the nouveau roman, seen against the background of Robbe-Grillet's approach to objects and materiality, and with reference to notions of 'project-work' in Butor's novels. Novels are considered by: Brian W. Aldiss, Muriel Spark, Denis Williams, Eva Figes, B. S. Johnson, and Alan Sheridan. Finally, the nouveau roman is looked at in relation to an emergent avant-garde in the British novel. Here, the nouveau roman is seen as providing terms with which British writing from the period in question was able to present itself as avant-garde beyond the manifestations of individual works. The conclusion briefly surveys more peripheral and non-novelistic British responses to the nouveau roman, considering the way in which they inscribe the nouveau roman as 'contemporary'. The thesis turns finally to the legacy of the nouveau roman for the British novel of the present day.
Supervisor: Marcus, Laura Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English and Old English literature ; Languages (Medieval and Modern) and non-English literature ; nouveau roman ; postwar British literature