Dr. Christopher Shorley is Senior Lecturer in French at Queen’s University Belfast. He has published extensively on the writing of the interwar period in France, and has written books on Queneau and Malraux, along with numerous articles, book chapters and reviews.
2006 0-7734-5618-X Watersheds and turning points mark most areas of French life around 1930, and the fiction of the time offers a uniquely privileged means of understanding them. It is a vital form of expression in these ‘années tournantes’: a key witness to France’s dramatic crises at a time when its own artistic techniques and methods are being decisively reshaped. Starting from one critic’s vivid image of a conservative literary ‘Maginot Line’ repeatedly breached by a new generation of writers, this book traces decisive transitions in French politics, society and culture. The focus falls on the novel, a genre particularly well equipped to reflect topical shifts and breakthroughs. Key issues are examined in turn: changing perceptions of the Great War, economic crisis, contrasting attitudes to the United States, the current effects of colonialism, and political polarization. The novel is then analyzed as a genre itself in the midst of change – in its style, narrative resources and relations with other forms (notably cinema, photography, jazz and noir) – with particular reference to major contemporary authors, especially Céline, Malraux, Queneau and Simenon. This book offers scholars working in the area, university teachers and students a fresh and challenging reading of an intriguing period which richly rewards further and closer exploration.