Contemporary French Civilization

Bryan Talbot's Grandville and French Steampunk

Contemporary French Civilization (2013), 38, (1), 47–71.

Abstract

This article examines the use of French history and culture in the work of British graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, particularly in his two novels set in the parallel world of "Grandville" (Paris) that feature the badger detective hero LeBrock. It situates Talbot's work in relation to that of other artists who depict humans in the form of animals (most notably the nineteenth-century caricaturist Grandville). The article also provides an overview of the major French contributions to the contemporary aesthetic of steampunk, ranging from the work of cinéaste Méliès to that of present-day artists. The article proposes a distinction between Talbot's direct "citations" of French visual culture and his more indirect allusions (analogous to quotation versus paraphrase in prose). It ends by pointing out some of the logical inconsistencies of Talbot's parallel universe, and concludes that the Grandville novels are a positive sign of interest in Francophone culture appealing to a popular (and young) audience.

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Hawthorne, Melanie