Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.792297
Title: Pathos, poetry and narrative perspective in Michel Houellebecq's fiction
Author: Williams, Russell James
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Abstract:
This thesis is written in the context of several trends in the existing critical literature that considers Michel Houellebecq's novels. Firstly, his work has been examined through the prism of the philosophical and socio-political issues and ideas it interrogates. Secondly, Houellebecq's texts have been examined intertexually in relation to the work of canonical French and European authors, predominantly from the nineteenth century. Thirdly, critics have focused on the author's flair for provocation in his writing and media interviews and considered Houellebecq primarily as a polemicist. Finally, and across all of these approaches, critical consideration of his literary style has largely been dismissive and derided his writing as 'plat' or foregrounded its 'essayistic' or discursive tropes. This thesis argues that a distinct 'poetics', creative principles that govern his use of language, can be identified in Houellebecq's novels. From this starting point, this study proposes that Houellebecq's work demonstrates a 'pathétique' quality of writing with a capacity to create an emotional effect on his readers. It argues that this quality contributes to a distinctly affective tone that characterises Houellebecq's fiction. To achieve this, the thesis will explore the trajectory of this quality of language through a close critical reading of three little examined areas of Houellebecq's writing: his earliest published poetry and its relationship to his prose; his distinctive and ubiquitous authorial voice and his exploitation of models from twentieth century literature, particularly genre fiction. In this way, the thesis demonstrates that Houellebecq's novels display a preoccupation with the reader and his or her experience of reading that has not yet been taken into full consideration by his critics. It suggests that, in a way that challenges descriptions of it as 'plat', Houellebecq's writing asserts a distinctive lyrical style, founded on his poetry, and is notable for the affective engagement it brings about. This thesis thus displays the techniques by which Houellebecq's work tends towards a complex emotionality that provides a challenge to both the prevailing discourses of contemporary postmodern society and to what remains of the French literary avant garde.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.792297  DOI: Not available
Share: