Australian Journal of French Studies

Mobile Criticism: Pierre Bayard's Irreverent Hermeneutics

Australian Journal of French Studies (2015), 52, (1), 37–52.

Abstract

Idiosyncratic to the core, French literary critic Pierre Bayard is a divisive figure commonly dismissed as lightweight or as a subverter of academic standards. In this article, we present an alternative view, arguing that Bayard's recent works constitute a systematic attempt to dismantle the dominant "textualist" paradigm of literary studies. We pursue this project across three clusters of experimentation in Bayard's critical writings, each of which is directed against a prevalent methodological constraint: the authority of standard interpretations, the limits of comparability, and the perceived sanctity of the literary text. What emerges from these experiments is an irreverent hermeneutics deeply suspicious of authoritative answers and concerned instead with opening up new styles and aims of critical practice - even when this means engaging in paradox and transgressing against logic and common sense.

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Author details

Gulddal, Jesper

Rolls, Alistair