Narrative Structure and Philosophical Debates in Tristram Shandy and Jacques le fataliste

Margaux Whiskin

MHRA Texts and Dissertations 95

Modern Humanities Research Association

1 January 2014  •  176pp

ISBN: 978-1-781880-16-6 (hardback)  •  RRP £34.99, $48.99, €41.99

ISBN: 978-1-781880-17-3 (paperback)  •  RRP £14.99, $19.99, €17.99

ISBN: 978-1-781881-07-1 (JSTOR ebook)

ISBN: 978-1-781881-33-0 (EBSCO ebook)

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EnlightenmentEnglishFrenchFiction


Contrary to what might be expected from a philosophical novel, Sterne and Diderot do not impose their own views upon the reader. The author's voice is but one amongst many others. Margaux Whiskin's argument hinges on Bakhtinian dialogism, which can be defined as the presence of interacting voices and views. In Tristram Shandy and Jacques le fataliste, dialogism occurs through the narrative structure allowing for the confrontation of the contradictory discourses in the philosophical debates, and enabling them to engage in dialogue, instead of establishing the authorial voice as the sole valid discourse in the text. Through those contradictions, the philosophical content takes on a different form, that of a refusal of systematic discourse. Sterne and Diderot do not offer a solution to the various questions debated in their novels. However, they do offer a philosophical approach whereby the confrontation of contradictory ideas creates a dynamic for the pursuit of truth. By engaging in dialogue and constantly opening questions where there is no single right answer, Sterne and Diderot redirect the focus of the reader and invite him to perceive truth not as a destination to be reached, or as a closed conclusion, but as being present in the quest itself, in the ongoing dialogues and debates.

Margaux Whiskin is a teaching fellow in the Department of French Studies at the University of Warwick.

Reviews:

  • ‘Whiskin proves a perceptive and engaging commentator who will aid readers in their journeys through a literary world of orderly disorder.’ — Simon Davies, French Studies 68, 2014, 546-47

Contents:

i-iv
Front Matter
Margaux Whiskin
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v-v
Table of Contents
Margaux Whiskin
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vi-vi
Acknowledgements
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vii-viii
Abbreviations
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1-11
Introduction
Margaux Whiskin
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12-41
Chapter 1 Ludic Narrative
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42-78
Chapter 2 Ideas and Examples
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79-122
Chapter 3 Mindscapes: Descriptions and Spatial Representations
Margaux Whiskin
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123-157
Chapter 4 Sentimentalism and the Grotesque
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158-162
Conclusion
Margaux Whiskin
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163-168
Bibliography
Margaux Whiskin
doi:10.2307/j.ctt4cg947.11
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Bibliography entry:

Whiskin, Margaux, Narrative Structure and Philosophical Debates in Tristram Shandy and Jacques le fataliste, MHRA Texts and Dissertations, 95 (MHRA, 2014)

First footnote reference: 35 Margaux Whiskin, Narrative Structure and Philosophical Debates in Tristram Shandy and Jacques le fataliste, MHRA Texts and Dissertations, 95 (MHRA, 2014), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Whiskin, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Whiskin, Margaux. 2014. Narrative Structure and Philosophical Debates in Tristram Shandy and Jacques le fataliste, MHRA Texts and Dissertations, 95 (MHRA)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Whiskin 2014: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Whiskin 2014: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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