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George Sand and Rewriting: The Poetics of Intertextuality in George Sand's "Jacques Cycle"

Leung, Cathy Kit-Ting

Until now, for George Sand scholars, two main images of the Sand corpus have been dominant, “un grand fleuve d’Amérique” and “une grande oeuvre multiforme.” While both images evoke the strength and diversity of styles, approaches and genres in Sand’s literary production, they also suggest a certain vagueness in regards to the contours of this oeuvre. Moreover, when speaking about the author’s novelistic writing, scholars and the larger reading public alike often refer to her work as the “eighty or so” novels and short stories she wrote, giving the impression that her work knew no boundaries. In place of this relative sense of unruliness, I propose the vision of an oeuvre unified by a strong theory of the novel and suggest how this corpus is structured by both intertextuality and polyphony. For this purpose, I borrow from Riffaterrian theories of textuality while proposing my own theory of intertextuality in regards to its function in the Sand corpus. I explain how George Sand hands us an actual key to deciphering her entire literary production and how one can understand the theoretical implications of this literary gesture. This key is what I call the author’s “Jacques cycle,” the series of rewritings of her 1834 novel Jacques that she highlights in her 1866 novel Le Dernier Amour. There, the author speaks about Jacques and its rewritings as key novels that have followed the evolution of her thinking as a writer in addition to her reflections on societal concerns. Viewed from this perspective, Sand places intertextuality, rewriting, and metaliterary reflection at the very heart of her conception of literature on the same plane as her societal preoccupations. My dissertation consists of an Introduction, four chapters and a Conclusion. Chapter One presents George Sand's engaged stance in her "Essai sur le drame fantastique" theorizing on intertextuality. Chapter Two demonstrates how her rewriting of La Nouvelle Héloïse in Jacques enters in dialogue with the horizons d'attente associated with women's writing, while constructing what has been called a textual masculinity. Chapter Three analyzes Sand's defense of the autonomy of literature in Jacques and her article, "À propos de Lélia et de Valentine." Chapter Four theorizes on the concept of a Jacques cycle and investigates Sand's Valvèdre and Le Dernier Amour as novels rewriting Jacques in light of the movement of "l'art pour l'art." Theory is thus central in shaping the Sand corpus.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
French and Romance Philology
Thesis Advisors
Stalnaker, Joanna R.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2013
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