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
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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 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.

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