Narrative reflexivity and orphic reflection in Anne Hebert's novels
Doctor of Philosophy
Anne Hebert has produced a variety of works which act like a mirror with multiple reflection effects. The main themes of love, death, and of writing are integrated in the majority of the novels, in the framework of a fictitious autobiography of a character. Reconstructing the past, the main character daydreams and looks at a mirror which reveals changes. The reflection of this person in the plot is doubled at the level of the writing which reflects itself through the process of autorepresentation. Lucien Dallenbach's theory expressed in The Mirror in the Text, helps us bring out the components of autorepresentation in the novels by Anne Hebert. The first chapter deals with the reflection of the enunciation taking into account the aspects of the production and of the reception of a text as well as the variety of textual metaphors. The second chapter concerns the reflection of the fiction. It analyzes the position and the importance of the "mise en abyme" in the novels as well as the different degrees of the text. The concept of "hypertextuality" in Gerard Genette's Palimpsest allows us to define the relationship Anne Hebert's novels maintain with other French, British and American literary texts. The problem of the origin of the work of art and of poetic creation forms the subject of the third chapter. The texts reflect their origin, which in Anne Hebert's novels stem from an encounter of the main character with death, thus reenacting Orpheus's plight. Via a real or a mental trip to the kingdom of the dead, the main characters draw their possibilities of art. At the same time they compensate for the absence which death has produced in the act of narration. The presence of orphic poets and texts appearing in Anne Hebert's works through intertextuality and "hypertextuality" enhance the characters' orphic experience in the fiction. To a varying degree, all the novels renew and reflect the orphic myth of creation and liberation.
French Canadian literature; Comparative literature