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Fiction and disclosure: Do you hear them? From Nathalie Sarraute



ID: <6QrqewktIQ2SbbKOHf2DF>


This article studies Nathalie Sarraute’s novel Vous les entendez ? (1972). I want to show the heuristic power of the author’s fictional creation: her new approach to fiction reveals an original reality both unseen and almost imperceptible that avoids a strictly phenomenological understanding, and thus can only be discovered by being created.Vous les entendez ? is probably N. Sarraute’s most complex novel. Its textual fragmentation aims not only to break with the “classical” genre of the novel – particularly with the unfolding of a long length of time – but also to provide a shape for the progressive distension of a short period of time: a few, seemingly insignificant moments lived by a father and his kids. As the text dilates them, it develops the fleeting feelings that the characters experience, and thus make visible their invisible content. It also reveals levels of experience which are more and more primordial, where the subjects lose their shapes and appear as they are in their thoughtless experience, pre-subjects indistinguishable and inseparated, between whom “the same substance runs freely”.To analyze this device and understand what it reveals, I will rely on a deliberately interdisciplinary corpus: philosophical works which present conceptions of consciousness or of the original close to the sarrautian vision (Henri Bergson’s theory of the states of consciousness, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological analysis of feeling and ontology of the invisible Being), and linguistic, semiological and narratological works that can enlighten in different ways the discursive devices with which the author deconstructs the subjects of consciousness and constructs a “literary equivalent” to what she calls “substance.”

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