Places, Faces, and the Word "God" in Three Novels by Sylvie Germain

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ProQuest, 2008 - 224 pages
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The story of Jacob's fight with the angel in Genesis 32 is a key intertext of Sylvie Germain's oeuvre and a preliminary link between the three themes this dissertation analyzes in her novels. When he defeats the angel, Jacob names the spot "Penuel," which means "face of God" (Gen. 32:30). He thus inscribes the story of his encounter with God upon the place, and acknowledges the singularity of seeing God face-to-face. In the three works studied here (Nuit-d'Ambre , 1987; La Pleurante des rues de Prague, 1992; and Immensites, 1993), places are shown to be texts; that is, places hold stories that have been inscribed on them in the past and which Germain brings to the surface. Face-to-face encounters in her novels are also turned into textual events on the margins of perception, but here it is the command "Thou shalt not kill" that is silently expressed, revealing the influence of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Germain's writing of place and face opens the way for an understanding of the word "God" that also exists on the margins of comprehension. Rather than being a usual word with a known referent, the word "God" instead names a call and response structure. Germain places her characters in situations where they have the opportunity to act according to an ethics of attentiveness: to history, to the marginalized, to the silent and silenced, to the face of the other, and to the call and response of the word "God." It is in hearing the part of silence in speech, and in seeing the part of the unwritable in text, that characters find a partial reconciliation with the other person and with the world.
  

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Contents

Les textes aussi sont des lieux Places and texts
18
Seeing Otherwise The FacetoFace Encounter in Nuit
104
The Silent Word God as Call and Response
157
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