La mémoire à l’œuvre : Drieu La Rochelle et la construction du sens : l’homme et la Grande Guerre

Abstract : This thesis investigates how memory provides a dynamic resource in the construction of meaning within the literary sphere, focusing particularly on poetry and criticism. The thesis examines how literature and history are opposed through the negotiation of traces (documents, events, references, etc.). Mimicking the trajectory of remembering, the study begins in the present, examining the current state of research on Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, and returns to the original traces, analysing Drieu’s first two texts, Interrogation (1917) and Fond de cantine (1920).The introduction provides a clarification of the thesis’ conceptual framework, which is drawn from psychoanalytic praxis and theory. The introduction begins the process of translating and adapting elements of the therapeutic cure particularly pertinent in the construction of meaning, such as transference, floating attention, free association, and the status of truth and its verification. By adapting these practices, a psychoanalytic approach to literature can offer more than a reading that reduces a text to the simple confirmation of psychoanalytical concepts.The first chapter comprises a review of the critical literature on Drieu La Rochelle, which has been marked by decades of biographical readings. A first reading uses historiographical debates and reflections to examine how Drieu has become part of the French literary canon, and is now a “lieu de mémoire”. Using psychoanalysis and Paul Ricœur’s theory of narrative, the chapter then highlights recurring themes and strategies employed by critics in their narrativisation of Drieu’s life. The second chapter is an exhaustive reading of Interrogation organised around three cultural substrates that constitute the text’s memory. Religion, history and literature are mobilised to deny the unprecedented nature of the First World War. Instead, the war is figured as the newest manifestation of a timeless drive for violence, through which the subject experiences a temporality that confuses past and present.Through a reading of Fond de cantine, the third chapter charts the collapse of the three cultural substrates seen in Interrogation and the fragmentation of the subject under the weight of the historical event. The intrusion of history nonetheless offers the subject a strategy for the semanticisation of the war. The attempt to historicise the war that follows, however, confuses literary references and historical facts. As a consequence, a new experience of time emerges: the past is purely mythic, and the alienated present endures without hope for the future.
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Clement Extier. La mémoire à l’œuvre : Drieu La Rochelle et la construction du sens : l’homme et la Grande Guerre. Littératures. Université de Lyon; University of Sydney, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSE2103⟩. ⟨tel-02168631⟩

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