In Spectral Preoccupations: Reading through Post-War French Fiction I argue for considering the figure of the ghost beyond its thematic presence, and rather as a remainder and marker of an estranging and disruptive principle at work in the oeuvres of Georges Perec, Patrick Modiano, Marie Darrieussecq, and Hélène Cixous. I engage, in framing this argument, with Jacques Derrida’s elaboration in Spectres de Marx of the ghost as a figure encountered in untimely reappearances. In the first chapter, looking at the manifold reappearances (over half a century) of an elusive character in several of Perec’s novels, I argue that he embodies the author’s vision of the artist as a master of deceit. In the second chapter, I track lost and forgotten objects in Modiano’s oeuvre to show that rather than providing stability and reassurance, they turn out to point to the cracks in characters’ relationships to the past and to their own identities; the recovery of the past is constantly deferred, never to be completed. Reconsidering, in chapter three, Darrieussecq’s claims that her writing is haunted, I show how in her furtive appearances in her narratives, often only signaled by a pronoun, a grammatical tense with the potential to be read doubly, and her critical (mis)readings of her own novels, she is in fact the one who haunts her oeuvre. Finally, in the fourth chapter, through the writing of Cixous, where she explicitly summons literary figures and loved ones who have passed and communicates with them through a type of literary telecommunication device, I explore how spectrality can be seen as a form of community. Communicating with no regards for distance or state, for Cixous, there is in the power of fiction a possibility of a change in being, which allows one to be contemporary to ghosts, that is: by becoming untimely to our own selves. Literature in its spectral dimension thus proposes a shift in our understanding of linear time and stresses the importance of welcoming all others, and also embracing our own otherness.
Stojanovic, Sonja Klara,
"Spectral Preoccupations: Reading through Post-War French Fiction"
French Studies Theses and Dissertations.
Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.