Maps and Territories

BookMaps and Territories

Maps and Territories

Global Positioning in the Contemporary French Novel

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 61


May 17th, 2019

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The rapidity of postwar globalization and the structural changes it has brought to both social and spatial aspects of everyday life has meant, in France as elsewhere, the destabilizing of senses of place, identity, and belonging, as once familiar, local environments are increasingly de-localized and made porous to global trends and planetary preoccupations. Maps and Territories identifies such preoccupations as a fundamental underlying impetus for the contemporary French novel. Indeed, like France itself, the protagonists of its best fiction are constantly called upon to renegotiate their identity in order to maintain any sense of belonging within the troubled territories they call home. Maps and Territories reads today’s French novel for how it re-maps such territories, and for how it positions its protagonists vis-à-vis the pressures of globalization, uncovering previously unseen affinities amongst, and offering fresh readings of—and offering exciting new perspectives on—a diverse set of authors: namely, Michel Houellebecq, Chloé Delaume, Lydie Salvayre, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Virginie Despentes, Philippe Vasset, Jean Rolin, and Marie Darrieussecq. In the process, it sets the literary works into dialogue with a range of today’s most influential theorists of postmodernity and globalization, including Paul Virilio, Marc Augé, Peter Sloterdijk, Bruno Latour, Fredric Jameson, Edward Casey, David Harvey, and Ursula K. Heise.

'This book importantly addresses questions that are at the very heart of contemporary debates about our relationship to space and places in a world where borders and distance are being redefined by the forces of globalization.'
Jean-Xavier Ridon, University of Nottingham

'Its wide-ranging corpus, ambitious scope, and nuanced readings make Armstrong’s study an essential starting point for anyone interested in the current state of contemporary French fiction, and a persuasive account of the concerted way in which that fiction is capturing the profound social, physical, and psychical effects of globalization.'
Edward Welch, Modern Language Review

Author Information

Joshua Armstrong is an Associate Professor of French in the Department of French & Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Part I: Watching the World Go By27
1. Absolute Clarity: Michel Houellebecq’s La carte et le territoire31
2. Dérive psychose géographique: Chloé Delaume’s J’habite dans la télévision54
Part II: Getting Up to Speed73
3. Planetary Ambitions: Lydie Salvayre’s Portrait de l’écrivain en animal domestique77
4. Décalage Permanent: Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s Fuir95
Part III: Falling Through the Cracks121
5. A Tale of Two Frances: Virginie Despentes’s Vernon Subutex Trilogy125
6. Deep Dérive: Philippe Vasset’s La conjuration150
Part IV: Making Room177
7. Asymmetrical Tactics: Jean Rolin’s Ormuz181
8. Sense of Planet: Marie Darrieussecq’s Le pays205
Works Cited233