Australian Journal of French Studies

Intertextuality and Murder: Anne F. Garréta’s La Décomposition and À la recherche du temps perdu

Australian Journal of French Studies (2017), 54, (1), 71–83.

Abstract

The narrator-protagonist of Anne Garréta’s La Décomposition (1999) presents himself as the perfect criminal, killing in way that is neither random nor personally motivated, while relatedly eliminating characters from Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. But the constraint that is supposed to determine the killings and eliminations is poorly formulated in Oulipian terms, and the novel narrates its progressive failure. Garréta’s treatment of Proust’s text, while certainly irreverent, does not mirror the purely destructive intent of her protagonist: she recomposes as well as decomposing, mobilizing and reconfiguring fragments of the monument that she has broken up. La Décomposition gainsays over-generalizing accounts of Oulipian intertextuality that characterize it as mechanical and memory-free. Because of the narrator’s treacherous mobility, the constantly varying distance between the positions he adopts and those that can be reasonably attributed to the author, the novel demands an unusually high degree of epistemic vigilance. Inviting us to join the narrator in his sharp critique of literary mores, it also leaves us free to entangle ourselves in his contradictions, particularly regarding embodiment and disembodiment.

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Author details

Andrews, Chris