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The expanding space of the train carriage

The expanding space of the train carriage

Rabourdin, Caroline ORCID: 0000-0002-9694-0384 (2018) The expanding space of the train carriage. In: Riquet, Johannes and Kollmann, Elizabeth, (eds.) Spatial Modernities: Geography, Narrative, Imaginaries. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature . Routledge. ISBN 978-1138304550 (doi:

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Michel Butor, besides being one of the key figures of the Nouveau Roman, was a keen traveller who enjoyed the privilege of free travels granted to family members of SNCF employees in France. For his 3rd novel ‘La modification’, he chose the train journey to tell the story of, and link, two cities: Paris and Roma. Butor’s understanding and conception of space in the novel is essentially phenomenological and corresponds to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ‘lived space’, with the body reckoned as ‘the zero point or degree zero of spatiality’. From the very start of the novel, Butor places the protagonist’s body at the centre of the novel in order to bring awareness to the reader’s own body.
If, according to Merleau-Ponty, depth is considered as the most existential of all measurements and assessed through travelled distances, the essay shows how Butor makes use of the architecture of the train carriage, as well as framing and cinematographic techniques to engage the reader in a narrative involving a succession of repositionings. Here, we will see not only how muscular efforts are necessary for movement to occur but also how the reader’s representation of muscular efforts is invoked for movement, both absolute and relative, to be understood.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Ch. 11
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phenomenology, Spatial Theory, French Studies, Lived Space, Depth, Distance, Movement, Spatial Literature, Michel Butor, Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Design (DES)
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 23:43

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