To Kill a Text: The Dialogic Fiction of Hugo, Dickens, and Zola

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University of Delaware Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 260 pages
In a unique demonstration of the critical possibilities of Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of dialogism, To Kill a Text: The Dialogic Fiction of Hugo, Dickens, and Zola analyzes the intertextual conflicts between four monuments of nineteenth-century fiction: Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris, Charles Dicken's Bleak House, and Emile Zola's Le Ventre de Paris and Germinal. The book's fundamental hypothesis is that Dickens and Zola exemplify Hugo's conception of the novel - and of literary history - as a "graft" of one work upon another, producing hybrid mixtures of genres and styles of representation. For Hugo, a new work always "kills" its predecessor while at the same time preserving its memory. Thus writing becomes inlaid with writing; the text, a palimpsest. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston's book traces the covert manifestations of Hugo's romantic notion of the novel through later French and English realism, arguing that the anachronistic traces of past literary periods are always at work defining the aims of the present, no matter how radical a new departure it seems or tries to be.

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Contents

Introduction Literary Dialogues A Meditation on Intertextuality
13
Bakhtins Dialogue with Hugo
33
NotreDame de Paris The Hybrid Novel
47
Formal Incongruity in Dickenss Bleak House
85
Fiction Fair or Fiction Foul? Bleak House and NotreDame de Paris
138
Ceci tuera cela The Cathedral in the Marketplace
176
Pregnant Death Germinal and the Triumph of the Hybrid Novel
192
Notes
224
Works Cited
245
Index
253
Copyright

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Page 108 - Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery. Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds, this day, in the sight of heaven and earth.
Page 21 - Genre is reborn and renewed at every new stage in the development of literature and in every individual work of a given genre. This constitutes the life of the genre. [...] A genre lives in the present, but always remembers its past, its beginning. Genre is a representative of creative memory in the process of literary development.
Page 20 - Unitary language constitutes the theoretical expression of the historical processes of linguistic unification and centralization, an expression of the centripetal forces of language. A unitary language is not something given [dan] but is always in essence posited [zadan] — and at every moment of its linguistic life it is opposed to the realities of heteroglossia.
Page 102 - What connexion can there be, between the place in Lincolnshire, the house in town, the Mercury in powder, and the whereabout of Jo the outlaw with the broom, who had that distant ray of light upon him when he swept the churchyardstep ? What connexion can there have been between many people in the innumerable histories of this world, who, from opposite sides of great gulfs, have, nevertheless, been very curiously brought together ! Jo sweeps his crossing all day long, unconscious of the link, if any...
Page 53 - Apres le roman pittoresque mais prosaique de Walter Scott il restera un autre roman a creer, plus beau et plus complet encore selon nous. Cest le roman, a la fois drame et epopee, pittoresque mais poetique, reel mais ideal, vrai mais grand, qui enchassera Walter Scott dans Homere.—Victor Hugo on Quentin Durward.
Page 174 - ... and admit no light of day into the place ; well may the uninitiated from the streets, who peep in through the glass panes in the door, be deterred from entrance by its owlish aspect, and by the drawl languidly echoing to the roof from the padded dais where the Lord High Chancellor looks into the lantern that has no light in it, and where the attendant wigs are all stuck in a fogbank...
Page 17 - ... an artistically organized system for bringing different languages in contact with one another, a system having as its goal the illumination of one language by means of another, the carving-out of a living image of another language.
Page 193 - Moreover, the old hags are laughing. This is a typical and very strongly expressed grotesque. It is ambivalent. It is pregnant death, a death that gives birth. There is nothing completed, nothing calm and stable in the bodies of these old hags. They combine a senile, decaying and deformed flesh with the flesh of new life, conceived but as yet unformed.
Page 96 - It was one of those delightfully irregular houses where you go up and down steps out of one room into another, and where you come upon more rooms when you think you have seen all there are, and where there is a bountiful provision of little halls and passages, and where you find still older cottage-rooms in unexpected places, with lattice windows and green growth pressing through them. Mine, which we entered first, was of this kind, with an up-and-down roof, that had more corners in it than I ever...
Page 129 - For, I saw very well that I could not have been intended to die, or I should never have lived: not to say should never have been reserved for such a happy life. I saw very well how many things had worked together, for my welfare; and that if the sins of the fathers were sometimes visited upon the children, the phrase did not mean what I had in the morning feared it meant. I knew I was as innocent of my birth, as a queen of hers; and that before my Heavenly Father I should not be punished for birth,...

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