Thresholds of Meaning

BookThresholds of Meaning

Thresholds of Meaning

Passage, Ritual and Liminality in Contemporary French Narrative

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 18


June 16th, 2011

Access Token


Other Formats



Thresholds of Meaning examines contemporary French narrative and explores two related issues: the centrality within recent French fiction and autofiction of the themes of passage, ritual and liminality; and the thematic continuity which links this work with its literary ancestors of the 1960s and 1970s. Through the close analysis of novels and récits by Pierre Bergounioux, François Bon, Marie Darrieussecq, Hélène Lenoir, Laurent Mauvignier and Jean Rouaud, Duffy demonstrates the ways in which contemporary narrative, while capitalising on the formal lessons of the nouveau roman and drawing upon a shared repertoire of motifs and themes, engages with the complex processes by which meaning is produced in the referential world and, in particular, with the rituals and codes that social man brings into play in order to negotiate the various stages of the human life-cycle. By the application of concepts and models derived from ritual theory and from visual analysis, Thresholds of Meaning situates itself at the intersection of the developing field of literature and anthropology studies and research into word and image.

Author Information

Jean Duffy is Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Edinburgh.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of illustrations11
1 At death’s door: illness, ritual and liminality in Darrieussecq, Lenoir, and Mauvignier41
2 Suicide and saving face in Bon, Mauvignier and Bergounioux84
3 Commemoration, monument and identity in Bergounioux, Darrieussecq and Rouaud143
4 Retouching the past: family photographs and documents in Rouaud, Bon and Lenoir203
Conclusion: Writing passage and the passage to writing271
Select bibliography332