Le roman comme instrument de connaissance: Étude thématique de l'hôpital psychiatrique chez Bazin, Artaud, Céline et Beckett

by Woodward, Marc Denis

Abstract (Summary)
Restricted Item. Print thesis available in the University of Auckland Library or available through Inter-Library Loan. This thesis has as its aim the exploration of certain aspects of the 20th Century French novel. In particular, it poses the question of the capacity of the novel to enrich our perception and knowledge of reality. For this purpose, attention has been focused on one small facet of reality, that of the psychiatric hospital. As minute as such a facet may be, its study nonetheless provides conclusions that are of considerable interest to the literary critic and general reader alike. Essentially, this study is centred on the works of four important French writers of the 20th Century: Hervé Bazin, Antonin Artaud, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Samuel Beckett. In La Tête contre les murs, Bazin's concern to express the need for urgent reforms in psychiatric hospitals leads him to remain closely attached to the reality that is his concern, even at the expense of more literary preoccupations. His intentions, therefore, must be seen as being twofold: on the one hand wanting to reveal to the reader the problems confronting our society and, on the other, aiming to put forward a number of reforms intended to improve it. As for Artaud, his writings offer the reader a rather grim picture of the psychiatric hospitals in which he was interned in France in the 1940s. His portrayal of this world is constantly coloured by the bitter accusations he directs toward the psychiatrists who held him prisoner in their institutions because, as Artaud himself admits, they liked neither what he wrote nor the way in which he wrote it. The remaining two authors in this study reflect strikingly what appears to be a principle underlying the novels examined in this thesis: namely that the contribution made by each to our perception of reality tends to be in inverse proportion to its literary dimension. Louis-Ferdinand Céline, for instance, is bound by purely literary preoccupations, by the invention of a new language and the discovery of new literary forms. As for Beckett - and this is contrary to what we might expect of him - he paints a rather humorous picture of psychiatric hospitals; but when we examine the text itself, it soon becomes apparent that the discourse has, as it were, been dissociated from the plot of the novel. The text is in fact generated by a continuous process which could be described as a "jeux des mots", a constant interaction between the words themselves, with little or no regard to the plot. This is obviously a major breakaway from more traditional types of novels. Not surprinsingly, it is in his novels that reality looms least large. The writings studied in this thesis provide us therefore with four very distinct visions of reality which are, each in its different way, able to enrich our knowledge of the real world that surrounds us.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1988

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