My MA dissertation



In my MA dissertation I investigated the concept of other in the writings of Daniel Pennac.I developed my analysis in four parts:
1. The figure of the scapegoat as the symbol of otherness, or l'autre par excellence. Special attention has been given to the essay of René Girard Le bouc émissaire. I have proven that this essay, far from being a simple source of inspiration for Pennac, deeply structured the Malaussène saga.
2. The "other character":
The theme of the double is very present in Pennac's work. The doubled characters were analysed through the concept of alienation.
Pennac's characters as different, cast away.
Difference is often stereotyped in Pennac, which inspired a section about the use of stereotypes and archetypes in Pennac's work.
The archetype is used as an image, and therefore it involves a relationship of otherness with
what is represented in the image (i.e. socio-cultural archetypes)
the character hiding behind the archetypal image.
3. Intertextuality as the relationship with another writer, and quotations as otherness. Umberto Eco defined serial production as pure myth for two reasons: the repetition of the identical, and the fact that serial representations are generally figurative. Once they have appreciated the myth, the readers/spectators have the chance of judging the esthetical aspect of the object of art, that is the variation on mythical theme. What matters are the variation techniques, but an infinite variability is nothing but a mythical and cyclical repetition. Pennac often uses appellations that are similar to classical epical epithets, and he reiterates the same formal devices, as if his novels were poems to learn by heart. Nevertheless, these appellations are often ironical in Pennac’s narratives, which is seldom the case for classical epic and myth.
4. The use of language in novels, e.g. the use of "argot" as "l'autre langage", and other alienating devices, such as the shifting identity of the narrator, puns and stylistic changes. The limits between textual levels are impossible to seize in Pennac’s texts, that puzzle the readers and often seem to be narrating themselves. The conclusion shows that the missing link among all the aspects of otherness I analysed is myth. The main theme of Pennac’s works are the myths and rites upon which social behaviour is based, with a peculiar feature. Nowadays myths are less efficient because readers can normally recognise them as a codified genre, but Pennac dissimulates the mythical structure of his narrations, and prevents the reader from using a critical device. The readers do not recognise the myth and abandon themselves to storytelling. The mythical structure allows indeed the author to create “variations” that are typical of the postmodern production.