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Reading the visual in the work of Marguerite Yourcenar.

Saint, Nigel Wakelin; (1996) Reading the visual in the work of Marguerite Yourcenar. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the functions of the visual in the work of Marguerite Yourcenar. The visual here refers initially to her engagement with the visual arts in selected essays. Analysis shows her developing an independent critical voice and strategies in relation to existing art writing and art history because of personal attitudes and choices within certain historical contexts. This in turn leads the reader to interpret the visual more broadly as the verbal articulation of all visualised encounters in Yourcenar's fiction, for the study of which parameters have to be defined and a methodology elaborated. Topics, themes and motifs such as the corporeal impact of the visual, the contribution of images supplied by historiography (itself defined in visual terms and not only as a source of visual referents), the picturing of the Other, the working of memory, colour, appearance and dissolution are explored in Yourcenar's chief works of fiction - mainly Memoires d'Hadrien, L'Oeuvre au Noir and Un Homme obscur - via the privileged point of entry supplied by her essays on various artists. The visual emerges as the site of a struggle in which Yourcenar's characters try to achieve certainty and power and to overcome their fear of dispossession. Its investigation also demonstrates the subversive and liberating potential of the verbal-visual relationship in the act of reading since it often results in challenging Yourcenar's ostensible project. Reading the visual thus develops into a method of enquiry which not only suits the little studied corpus of Yourcenar's essays but also empowers readers to extend their interpretation of her major texts and can even hope to contribute to the study of representation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Reading the visual in the work of Marguerite Yourcenar.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108395
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