The emergence of the proletarian novel in France (1890-1914) and its critical reception : a study of the works of Charles Louis-Philippe, Emile Guillaumin, Eugène Le Roy, Marguerite Audoux and Lucien Jean
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There were two principal aims which inspired the writing of this thesis. The first was to fill a gap in English scholarship by presenting, in necessarily attenuated form, to English readers what scholars like Edouard Dolléans and Michel Ragon had provided for the French; namely, a description, in Part One, of the background to the proletarian involvement in literature and especially in novel writing which gathered rapid momentum during the quarter century before the First War. In so doing, this thesis attempts to analyse the connection between the proletarian novelists of the late nineteenth century, and middle class naturalist, realist, romantic and classical writers who had earlier made use of the j working class theme. It was the intention to demonstrate that, while offering new insights into the life of the indigent-masses, these writers often relied heavily for style and theme on those established by their predecessors. The comparison could only be made by treating in detail selected representatives of this new development in literature, and this was aided by examining the opinions of contemporary critics. The precise reasons for choosing the five authors who appear in the title and for subjecting them to greatly varying degrees of examination are given at the beginning of Part Two. In general, however, these five may be seen as the group which exhibited at once the greatest similarity to established literary conventions and also the most striking originality in the development of their subject. The second and predominant aim of this thesis was to present to an English readership the works of hitherto largely ignored novelists. Because of their obscurity, greater use of quotation and paraphrase was made than would have been necessary to discuss works of widely recognised authors. Part Two is a systematic evaluation of all the novels written by the five during the period 1890-1914. The limits of one thesis did not allow exhaustive treatment of any of the novelists and it is hoped that one of the results of this study will be to stimulate further research into them. To that end as extensive a bibliography as possible has been compiled and appears in two sections at the end of this work.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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