Violence and narrative: structural and interpersonal violence in contemporary French literature

by Marieke Mueller

15 Jun 2020
Journal of the British Academy
15 (pp. 155-169)

Abstract: This article considers the representation of violence in contemporary French literature, highlighting the way in which texts combine sociological and narrative strategies. It focuses on two internationally acclaimed texts, Didier Eribon’s Returning to Reims (2009) and Édouard Louis’s History of Violence (2016). It examines the narrativization of incidents of interpersonal violence and trauma in each text, and interrogates the specific ways in which such examples are embedded in a sociological understanding of structural violence indebted to Pierre Bourdieu. By examining the interrelatedness of different forms of violence, as well as the specific function of narrative, the article seeks to contribute to an interdisciplinary perspective that highlights the dialogue between literary studies and its sub-discipline of narratology on the one hand, and sociology on the other.

Keywords: Structural violence, interpersonal violence, narrative, contemporary French literature, Bourdieu, Eribon, Louis.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 8, supplementary issue 3 (Memories of Violence).

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