Date of Degree

6-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

French

Advisor

Francesca Canadé Sautman

Committee Members

Julia Przybos

Maxime Blanchard

Keywords

detective fiction, noir fiction, French and francophone literature, women authors, Maghreb, Africa

Abstract

Enquêtes métaphysiques et identitaires dans la littérature et la fiction policière en France et en Afrique du Nord examines how the roman policier’s (French noir and detective fiction) most contemporary version, the metaphysical detective novel (defined by Patricia Merivale and Elizabeth Sweeney in Detecting Texts: The metaphysical Detective Story From Poe to Modernism) unfolds in France and reconnects the genre with its literary filiation. My introduction associates the evolution of the trope of the flâneur as the meditative stroller, from Rétif de la Bretonne’s Les Nuits de Paris to its metaphysical development in Benjamin’s essays. Contemporary with Spade, Hammett’s 20th century flâneur, Simenon’s commissaire Maigret will open the way for doubt in his reviews of human motivations. Exploring literary texts and noir novels that have not been considered as metaphysical, I analyze the existential and deconstructive metaphysical investigative paradigm in French and Francophone novels. I argue that by adopting a deconstructive approach towards dominant rhetoric and narratives, the novels under consideration enrich the range and content of socially committed literature in French, challenging hegemonic representations of identity. Didier Daeninckx and Jean-Claude Izzo react to the rise of anti-immigrant ideologies with narratives closely related to the working class suburbs and their history. With a crucial contribution to the Mediterranean Noir trend, Izzo celebrates Marseilles’s Mediterranean hybrid culture and the city’s links with its immigrant communities. An essential part of Enquêtes métaphysiques considers the challenges faced by female authors in crime and noir fiction. Chawaf, Despentes’, Manotti’s, Tabachnick’s, and Cayre’s novels bring out a feminine view and manifest the everlasting plasticity of crime fiction. Rachid Santaki depicts the Parisian northern suburbs and reclaims an inclusive approach to France’s multicultural diversity. Renowned North African authors like Andrée Chédid, Kateb Yacine, Driss Chraïbi, and Abdelkader Djemaï subvert the genre’s codes and proffer some its most innovative investigations. The existential commitment of the authors and the deconstructions performed through the characters’ intellectual quests reveal the metaphysical turn in the novels of my corpus.

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