The German Occupation in recent French fiction : an analysis of the literary “mode retro”
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This thesis attempts to analyse and characterise the mode rétro, the remarkable renewal of interest in the German Occupation of France, which is coloured by an extensive re-evaluation of the period's significance. An introduction places this fashion in its literary, social and historical context, revealing how, from 1940 to 1969, a collective and predominantly Gaullist 'myth' of the Resistance became established, with the result that the national response to invasion was accepted to be one of wide-spread heroism and revolt. Part I studies the reaction to such résistancialisme, showing how this orthodox interpretation of events was undermined and, for many, discredited, and offering explanations of the timing and direction of the new view. Part II focuses on the fiction, memoirs, autobiographies and biographies of the younger authors, those who have no direct adult experience of the années noires. It is suggested that their obvious obsession with absent parent-figures reflects their awareness that the past has been misrepresented and their heritage rendered problematic. Their sole means of escape from this predicament, their only source of emotional relief is seen to lie in the creation of a personal account of the early 1940s running contrary to the prevalent orthodoxy, the fabrication of a 'counter-myth'. It is thus the notion of myth which links the various sections of the survey, and so gives the thesis its overall unity.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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