Thélème Revista Complutense de Estudios Franceses
This article examines narratives of disappearance in two French novels from the late 1990's, J.B. Pontalis's Un homme disparait and Marie Darrieussecq's Naissance des fantomes, which are reflective of a general trend towards ghostliness in French fiction towards the end of the twentieth century. The article argues that these novels are emblematic of a fin de siecle malaise that Marc Auge termed surmodernite and that Paul Virilio has identified in terms of an era characterized by so much speed (as a result of an overabundance of technological innovations in communication such as email and faxes) that individuals have become less and less centered or inter-connected rather than the other way around. Pontalis and Darrieussecq's novels are particularly good examples of a certain need for some to "vanish" within hyper-developed, contemporary spaces. Through an exploration of Pontalis and Darrieussecq's characters' attempts at remembering their own personal narratives, the article will also examine the notion of fleeting "traces of memory" that linger within the unconscious of many despite constant barrages of memory-numbing stimuli.
Original Publication Citation
Schulman, P. (2015). Ghosts in the machine: Narratives of disappearance in French fiction from the 1990s. Thélème Revista Complutense de Estudios Franceses, 30(2), 223-237. doi:10.5209/rev_THEL.2015.v30.n2.47423
Schulman, Peter, "Ghosts in the Machine: Narratives of Disappearance in French Fiction from the 1990's" (2015). World Languages and Cultures Faculty Publications. 9.