THE REPRESENTATION OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR IN THE NOVELS OF CLAUDE SIMON AND JUAN MARSE
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This thesis consists of a close reading of the representation of the Spanish Civil War in selected novels of Juan Marse (1933-) and Claude Simon (1913-). It explores how this representation, ultimately, reveals the traces of their different intellectual contexts. The initial comparison questions whether Marse's representation of the Spanish revolution in Barcelona implies, like Simon's account, a negative representation of the concept of political engagement and a similar historical pessimism. It goes on to discuss how this negative view is shaped by the writers' respective historical contexts and aesthetics. Secondly, since, to varying degrees, the novels studied make the reader critically aware of processes of narrativisation and representation, and of issues of narrative reliability and authority, the thesis explores the extent to which their representations of the Civil War are 'anti-realist'. In order to do so, it initially locates the question of 'realism' or 'anti-realism' in the texts within a wider theoretical framework: that of the critique of realism within poststructuralist French theory after Barthes. The latter debate over referentiality in literary realism also underpins ongoing critical debates over the status of history as a text. This thesis, thirdly, considers whether both writers' representations of the Civil War and of historical processes suggest a particular attitude towards the writing of history, namely whether and to what extent Simon's and Marse's representations of the war problematize the relationship between their historical referent - the events of the war and/or its aftermath - and its narration and interpretation. In particular, it asks whether Marse's texts involve the kind of rejection of progressive historical 'meta-narratives' which is implicit and explicit in Simon's representation of the Civil War, but also whether Simon's texts do, in fact, not simply undermine this model of historical causality but posit an alternative, anti-progressive historical telos.
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