UBC Theses and Dissertations
Analyse structurale et stylistique du theme de l'attente dans l'oeuvre romanesque de Julien Gracq Whiteside, Anna Susan
This thesis deals with the major prose works of the present-day author Julien Gracq (born 1910). These works comprise the four novels: Au Chateau d'Argol (1938), Un Beau Tenebreux (1945), Le Rivage des Syrtes (1951), Un Balcon en Foret (1958), and the three -"recits": "La Route", "La Presqu'ile", and "Le Roi Cophetua" published together in La Presqu'ile in 1970. It is hoped to show how the theme of waiting and expectancy is not only common to each work discussed, but is in fact central to Gracq’s major prose writings. In an atmosphere of growing suspense the characters wait both anxiously and eagerly for something to happen. The precise nature of what they are waiting for is never fully revealed, for, although increasingly imminent, no final event ever actually takes place. This lack of finality allows the awaited event to be evoked in many different imagined forms. Because, through the way in which he describes them, the author renders these imaginary evocations "real", and because he describes reality as something remote, the distinction between "real" and "imagined" becomes artificial. Thus the reader finds himself experiencing, like Gracq's heroes, the suspense of uncertainty, uncertainty which is also reflected by a protean decor where desert, sea and forest become as one fluid medium. If this theme and atmosphere of expectancy and waiting is both common and central to Gracq's fiction, his treatment of it is never repetitious. It is by examining the specific structure of this theme as it appears in each work that the different quality of each composition would seem best to reveal itself. Because the way in which Gracq creates and maintains suspense depends more on the style in which he describes a sequence of events than on the events themselves, this structural analysis also implies a stylistic one; for it is only as a result of examining the style that the different structures of the central theme emerge: thus the demonstration of each structural interpretation tends to be stylistic. In Au Chateau d'Argol the characters wait for the revelation of an enigma. Tantalized by their awareness of it they try to discover the unknown; this search takes the form of a series of real or: imaginary adventures each of which evokes one of the many facets of the enigma. In Un Beau,Tenebreux the characters expect something, as yet undefined, to take place. At all different levels of description this period of waiting would appear to fall into three stages: premonition, development, and confirmation of the premonition. The structure of Le Rivage des Syrtes is also tripartite, but here the' climax is central rather than final. Un Balcon en Foret describes a period of waiting in terms of a balcony suspended between the beginning and end of the interim duration of anticipation. "La Route" describes metaphorically the journey through life or the waiting for death; Gracq’s language portrays this road as both sectional and continuous, real and imaginary. "La Presqu'ile" describes nine hours of waiting transposed into a circular itinerary. "Le Roi Cophetua” describes a night of vigil and suspense where two people's anticipation, two poles of light and dark converge.
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