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Durham e-Theses
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(RE-)MYSTIFYING THE CITY: THE MYSTÈRES URBAINS AND THE PALIMPSEST, 1842-1905

WIGELSWORTH, AMY,LOUISE (2013) (RE-)MYSTIFYING THE CITY: THE MYSTÈRES URBAINS AND THE PALIMPSEST, 1842-1905. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 15 July 2018.

Abstract

This thesis uses the palimpsest as an interpretative lens through which to consider various rewritings of Eugène Sue’s Mystères de Paris. The corpus date range reflects the extent of the mystères urbains phenomenon, from 1842, when serial publication of Sue’s novel began, to 1905, when serialization of Jules Lermina’s Mystère-ville was completed, and after which the mystères tended to adopt new settings and new preoccupations.

Chapters I and II provide introduction and contextualization. Chapter III analyses the paratextual matter used to ‘package’ the texts, specifically prefaces, footnotes and illustrations. Chapter IV considers issues of identity, namely the emergence of the detective character, the role played by secret societies, and the implications of rewriting gender roles. Chapter V deals with geographical and temporal transpositions and Chapter VI compares feuilleton and book versions, as well as examining theatre adaptations and parodies. By way of conclusion, Chapter VII underlines the enduring relevance of the mystères urbains, as well as suggesting avenues for future research.

The characteristic common to these rewritings is an insistent self-consciousness. Paratexts impinge on texts and become, in an irreverent parody of their own conventions, complicit in the mystification of the reader. Extra-diegetic phenomena, such as the emergence of the detective character, the rise of an eclectic, indeterminate group of popular readers, and the conflation of reading and writing activities encouraged by the serial form, are reproduced en abyme within the novels. Similarly, geographical and temporal transpositions transcend their diegetic category, repeatedly proving themselves to have a meta-diegetic resonance. American-set mystères reflect the Americanization of culture, while temporal transpositions cultivate confusion between Histoire and histoire. The reader’s attention is deliberately diverted from the mysteries of the cities to the machinations of the text itself. This self-reflexivity is characteristic of literary modernity, but especially prominent in these mystères urbains, where the relationship between text and context is a significant one. The city provides not only the subject matter of the mystères, but also the forum for the production, consumption, reception and rewriting of the texts.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Jul 2013 14:19

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