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    From urgent understanding to raw writing: the synergy of journalism and fiction in the novels of Sorj Chalandon

    Harris, Pauline Elizabeth (2023) From urgent understanding to raw writing: the synergy of journalism and fiction in the novels of Sorj Chalandon. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.


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    Sorj Chalandon (1952-) was previously an acclaimed foreign correspondent in Ireland, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan for the French centre-left daily newspaper Libération between 1973 and 2007. He has been a journalist for the satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné since 2009. He is also a prize-winning author of ten novels, published between 2005 and 2021, the most recent of which was nominated for the Prix Goncourt. Yet despite these achievements, there is no extended academic inquiry into his writing. My thesis addresses this deficiency by examining the transition and interplay between his journalism and his fiction. Chalandon’s profound association with the visual emerges from his early cartoons in Libération and his productive collaborations with photographers. Although he emphasises the distinction between his reporting and his fiction –letting others speak and finding his own voice– I argue that his engagement with imagery constitutes a crucial bridge between them. My approach has entailed the textual, historical and cultural reading of his work through diverse but interconnected prisms. Given the markedly autobiographical genesis of most of his fiction, my research proceeds from a scrutiny of the self-image he presents to colleagues, other writers and to me in two written interviews. I interrogate his journalism through his empathy with his reporting subjects and his imperative to hear and impart their stories. This instinct is palpable in his ‘geopolitical’ novels set in Ireland and Lebanon, where he suffered considerable psychological trauma. The source of his most enduring anguish is his relationship with his father, which I pursue across four ‘paternal’ novels, culminating in a shocking dénouement. Finally, my analysis of his female first-person novel, emanating from the cancer diagnoses of himself and his wife, illuminates the progressive emancipation of his women characters.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2023 14:07
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:15


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