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The novels of Robert Merle

Boyd, E. B. (1975) The novels of Robert Merle. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The novels examine the situation of twentieth-century man as a member of the social or political group. The problem of individual responsibility is central, and its examination entails discussion of the motivation and effect of action. In most of +he novels attention is concentrated on a small group of characters in a clearly-defined historical context. The group are subjected to stress, usually caused by conflict, and their true nature emerges: a few revel in anarchy, but most long for a return to routine. It is through the leader, who is an intellectual, that these attitudes are channelled into progress. Individual responsibility is thus complicated by responsibility for the welfare of the group. Just as, the construction of the novels is manipulated so that setting, character and situation highlight the predicament of the central figure, so every aspect of expression is subordinated to the exposition of the theme. The novelist's control of the narrative is achieved by means of acceleration and climax, and his use of imagery and coincidence enables the reader to appreciate the significance of his commentary. At the same time, the reader may be involved in the action by means of the interior monologue or the use of first-person narration. The novels are therefore significant both as fiction, because of their exciting story development, and as fables, because of the evident manipulation of the . narration for a purpose,-The conclusions reached in the novels are not always optimistic. The stress on the importance of individual commitment is balanced by the discouraging view of a society in which the uninterested, the ineffective and the selfish form the majority. The question of how far this majority should be directed raises the problem of whether true democracy may ever be achieved. The novels emphasise the importance of communication and compromise in the formation of a powerful group.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1975
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 17:05

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