Australian Journal of French Studies

Questions of Empathy and Understanding: Monsters in Modern French Fiction

Australian Journal of French Studies (2018), 55, (2), 184–201.

Abstract

This essay suggests that fictional monsters are like weather vanes, anticipating the winds of change that have prompted successive generations to revisit fundamental questions on the nature of humanity. With examples sourced from major texts in the modern French canon by Hugo, Zola, Tournier and Darrieussecq, as well as from the recent “téléroman”, Les Revenants, it postulates that, via the agency of the narration, the reader’s (or spectator’s) contact with the monster is profoundly affective. The argument is upholstered with recent research on the extent to which responses to such fictional encounters are modulated by empathy.

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Author details

Platten, David

Platten, David