Michael Høxbro Andersen
Karen Blixensvej 1, 2300 København S
Arriving in Paris: a topos in French Literature from François Rabelais to Alain Mabanckou
One of the recurrent topoi in French literature from the Renaissance to contemporary francophone African literature is the story of a young person who arrives in Paris from the provinces. This project sets out to map the history of this topos under the assumption that is has been constitutive of the French novel. It argues that the topos of arriving in Paris is not only a recurrent situation or a scenario, but also a narrative matrix or scheme that structures the entire narrative. The power of the topos to structure plot peculiarly inheres in its non-realization— the protagonists never quite arrives. That is to say, the topos is almost always articulated negatively: the arrival constantly gets prevented, postponed, or deferred by unforeseen events or circumstances. In this way the topos is used to unfold, to explore, to criticize or to negate the dreams, schemes, wills, desires, or intentions of the literary characters. In other words, it is employed to articulate the backside of different ‘Parisian dreams’. The project includes authors such as François Rabelais, Charles Sorel, Montesquieu, Pierre Marivaux, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Honoré de Balzac, Stendhal, Gustave Flaubert, Émile Zola, Ousmane Socé, Bernard Dadié, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Alain Mabanckou, Fatou Diome.