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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Les Antimemoires : eclatement de l’autoportrait Milne, Elizabeth J.


As Andre Malraux explicitly states in the opening pages of his Antimemoires, the aim of this particular literary portrait is neither to narrate the story of his life, from beginning to end, nor is it to describe himself. Unlike the autobiographer, who attempts to give a chronological account of his life, the author of the autoportrait asks himself, "Who am I ?" Malraux modifies this formula by specifying that the Antimemoires project a man who reflects the questions which death asks of the meaning of the world. The author of the Antimemoires is less concerned about actual fact, than about conveying that which he deems to be eternal, sacred, irrational and enigmatic. This analysis situates the Antimemoires ihi its autobiographical, autobibliographical, and literary framework, introducing those novels and works by Malraux which pertain to his autoportrait, and relying upon the theoretical and structural distinctions established by Michel Beaujour between the autoportrait and the autobiography. The first chapter links Malraux's last novel, Les Noyers de l'Altenburg, to his Antimemoires ; the "autoportraitiste" of 1965 manifests the same preoccupations and obsessions as did the novelist of 1943. The second chapter discusses the relationship between Malraux1s world tour of 1965 (journey which provides the thematic order upon which the Antimemoires are based), and the sequence of his memories. This chapter presents the essential thematic and structural composition of each of the five sections which constitute the Antimemoires. This study follows the order chosen by Malraux himself, with the purpose of demystifying the ambiguous and seemingly arbitrary progression of the text. The third chapter examines certain of Malraux's concepts regarding such notions as temporal reality, the "resurrection" of the past, the phenomenon of metamorphosis, and the sacred function of art, in order to apply his theories to this study of the Antimemoires. The relationship between the reader and the text is approached in the fourth and final chapter;. The character Clappique symbolizes the irrational and comical side of literary creation; his reappearance in the Antimemoires indicates a new irruption of Malraux's "farfelu" element, as well as providing a "mise en abime" of the author-reader connexion. Malraux's very real concern for the future of humanity is unquestionably a major force behind his urgent "interrogation". By inciting the reader to face up to the "revelation" of death, to question his own "raison d'etre", Malraux activates his desire to conquer his insignificance and the absurdity of his existence. In a civilisation which hopes to exorcize "le neant" by the fear of death, Malraux intimates that art provides us with a means to fight against death. Man's combats have the same object : to shape destiny and affirm the self against the world's inertia. By abolishing time and space, by creating an imaginary world of values which transcend the ages, Malraux's autoportrait attempts to guide modern man towards a new vision of himself and the world. The aim of this study is to explore Malraux's own attitude to the world, through his reincarnations as men of "anti-destin", by examining his own dialogue with death: it is impossible to become familiar with the works of this man without submitting to the contagiousness of his fight against death oneself.

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