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Title: Gendered discourse : narrative voices in the novels of George Sand
Author: Harkness, Nigel J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis examines the importance of gender as a criterion when studying the narrative voices in Sand's novels from Indiana (1832) to Nanon (1872). It takes as its starting point the monologic and didactic nature of much of Sand's fiction, which is often considered as having contributed to its 'unreadability' today, and moves forward hypotheses about the author's frequent choice of an authoritative, male narrative voice for her novels. The first chapter looks at a selection of texts with third- and first-person narrators, and argues that even when the narrator is not identified explicitly as male, one can frequency identify a masculine and patriarchal bias in the narrative position, and thus place in question the supposed neutrality of narrative voice. By focusing on the inconsistencies and contradictions in what these narrators say, on that which within the text escapes their control, one can cast doubt on the idea that Sand's choice of male narrator is either dictated by the literary conventions of the nineteenth century, or is to be seen as a mask behind which she as a female author could mime. I suggest instead that since they subvert the patriarchal male's claim to possess the Absolute Truth, these novels can be read as challenging the structure and authority of a patriarchal society of which the narrative discourse is an expression. The second chapter analyses the first important subset of Sand's novels which are not narrated by a single authoritative male voice, that is, the novels with multiple narrative voices. Whilst Sand's use of the multi-voiced epistolary form can be seen to repeat some of the patterns studied in the previous chapter, since one voice is often dominant, the 'fragmented' narratives of Lélia, Isidora and La Filleule subvert narrative unity and raise questions about the limits of literary representation (particularly the representability of female desire). My final chapter provides a counterpoint to the first by studying the confessional and memoir novels of the latter part of Sand's career in which female voices dominate the narrative.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available