UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reading Nathalie Sarraute through the lens of Jean Baudrillard : challenging consumers and clichés Cheinman, Ksenia


Jean Baudrillard chimed the bell announcing the postmodern death of the subject and the commodification of culture and language at the same time as Nathalie Sarraute was addressing these issues while experimenting with the formal qualities of the Nouveau Roman. The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate how two works of Nathalie Sarraute, namely the novel Tu ne t’aimes pas (1989) and the play C’est beau (1975), textualize resistance to the consumer society that they are staging as framed by Baudrillard’s seminal text La Société de consommation (1970). The first chapter, dealing with Tu ne t’aimes pas, examines the nature of consumers and by juxtaposing “Consumables” and “Inconsumables” illustrates how Sarraute reanimates the individual through multiplicity. The second chapter, focusing on C’est beau, explores clichés as well as the social tendency to linguistic conformism and simplification which in turn are challenged through abstraction and “thick description”. I prove that, through an aesthetic of undecidability, Sarraute succeeds in reviving the individual and restoring language from piles of platitudes in a way that the critical dialogues carried on in her writing extend to the present day and into the future.

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