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Autour de l'Extreme Litteraire
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Autour de l'Extreme Litteraire (Hardback)

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The extreme is an essential aspect of contemporary experience. Thrill-seekers spend the weekend in the search of the adrenaline rush of "extreme sports". In the political arena, the world has begun to rediscover the split between the "extreme" left and the "extreme" right. Through 24-hour rolling news, images of violence, torture and war are televised unremittingly into the living room; while the Internet places hardcore pornography, snuff film and cannibalism within easy reach of anyone with a personal computer or a smartphone. The "extreme" has even become a quality companies seek to associate with the most banal of commodities such as ice cream and hair gel. These different manifestations of extremity suggest a contradictory, even paradoxical, relationship with the "extreme". The contributors to this book explore how writing in French, from the Middle Ages to the present day, has interrogated extremity. Taken together, these essays demonstrate that the quality of the extreme can be applied to a great number of texts for different reasons and from myriad perspectives.

Moreover, the extreme is revealed as a quality both distinct from, and in tension with, the crossing of boundaries associated with transgression. It is a movement towards and away from a centre of radiation that escapes cultural norms without necessarily reinforcing them. This sensation of rushing and wandering outside the boundaries of what is considered safe and normal provides the extreme with its adrenaline-charged response of excitement or horror. The analyses contained in this volume consider a number of manifestations of the "extreme litteraire". The ambiguities of gender in medieval romance are explored in the context of the Arthurian court. The 19th century is examined through the prose poems of Baudelaire and the litterature sauvage of the Zutistes. The difficulties of writing the trauma of war and genocide in the 20th century are discussed through the work of Jorges Semprun and Agota Kristof. The contemporary extreme in French literature is examined in the autofiction of Christine Angot, the work of Annie Ernaux and Catherine Millet, the controversial novels of Michel Houellebecq, and the worldwide influence of the Marquis de Sade on writing today.

Whilst the "extreme litteraire" may have a wide variety of expressions in French literature, it is always outside, beyond and far from the centre of our everyday experience. It shocks us, excites us and horrifies us, often all at once. This book seeks to provide an insight into how and why the extreme has fascinated, and continues to fascinate, the French literary imagination.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: general Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Publication Date: 07/11/2012 ISBN-13: 9781443841634  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Alastair Hemmens is a doctoral student based at the University of London Institute in Paris. His research interests include revolutionary theory and the radical history of the Northern European Avant-garde. Russell Williams is a doctoral student at the University of London Institute in Paris. His research focuses on the contemporary French novel, in particular the work of Michel Houellebecq. He teaches at Universite Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallee and acts as reviews editor for the international journal Transgressive Culture.

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