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Acts of Creation, Acts of Recollection: Postmemories of Wartime in Claudel and Gaudé

Dias-Mercier, AEV; (2015) Acts of Creation, Acts of Recollection: Postmemories of Wartime in Claudel and Gaudé. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The relationship between memory and imagination is at the heart of twenty-first century war fiction. This literature engages with the unmaking and remaking of a history that has not been experienced at first hand. The concept of postmemory, developed by Marianne Hirsch with photography as a primary source, examines the role of memory in reconstructing and recollecting history imaginatively and creatively. The act of remembering is transformed into a malleable and innovative activity. This dissertation analyses how the concept of postmemory, when applied to fiction as a form through which to experience unlived memories, approaches experiences of war with a sense of freedom which opens up new narrative perspectives. Focusing on the largely unstudied works of two contemporary French writers, Philippe Claudel and Laurent Gaudé, the first two chapters explore the problematic relation of memory, history and mimetic representation as they unfold in postmemory. Under the shadow of a trauma into which these writers remove themselves temporally, their writings produce a series of distortions that reflect on the fluidity of memory. The third chapter identifies intertextual patterns and generic experiments in the internal movement of each text, and argues that they are an integral part of the dynamic process involved in addressing the past. Underpinned by the ambiguous structure of postmemory, a creative oscillation emerges between continuity and rupture, proximity and distance. The last chapter examines more closely the constitution of the postmemorial subject by focusing on the internal mechanism of belated memory - here, Claudel’s familial postmemory and Gaudé’s prosthetic memory - which articulates memory in terms of responsibility, and creativity in terms of ethics. By embracing a temporal and literary space for remembering events that have not been experienced, the texts examined here call into question the readers’ as well as the author’s ethical positioning. They suggest a new space-time through which to represent the fragmented, problematic recovery involved in postmemory.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Acts of Creation, Acts of Recollection: Postmemories of Wartime in Claudel and Gaudé
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1462912
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