Dr Thomas Baldwin

Reader in French


Dr Thomas Baldwin studied for a BA in French and German at University College London and for a DPhil in French at New College, Oxford. Before coming to Kent, he was a maître de langue at the École normale supérieure in Paris.

He is co-director of the Centre for Modern European Literature and a general editor of Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature.

Research interests

Tom's research interests lie in the fields of modern French literature, literary theory, philosophy and visual culture. 

He would be happy to supervise postgraduate work in any of these areas.  


Tom teaches modules on modern French literature and culture. He also teaches grammar and translation.



  • Baldwin, T. (2015). On Garréta on Proust. French Studies [Online] 70:33-43. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1093/fs/knv227.
    This article explores Anne F. Garréta's engagements with Marcel Proust's 'À la recherche du temps perdu' in 'La Décomposition' (1999). I argue that Garréta's various ‘rewritings’ of Proust's novel supply a new image of the productive tensions between literary works and critical or novelistic approaches to them and simultaneously resist a tendency to reproduce and consume Proust's work as a cultural fetish. In examining Garréta's creation of a series of interfaces with passages in 'À la recherche', I suggest that some readers of 'La Décomposition' encounter a ‘virtual’ text that shares some of the features of both authors' novels but is identical to neither. I also consider the ways in which Roland Barthes's understanding of Proust and of Proust criticism more generally can help us to appreciate the significance of what Garréta has done.
  • Baldwin, T., O’Meara, L. and Haustein, K. (2015). Introduction. Guest-edited special issue of L’Esprit Créateur [Online] 55:1-6. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1353/esp.2015.0048.
  • Baldwin, T. (2015). Rewriting Proust. Esprit Createur [Online] 55:70-85. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1353/esp.2015.0045.
  • Baldwin, T. (2014). Charlus/z. Nottingham French Studies (Special Issue: Writing, Reading, Grieving: Essays in Memory of Suzanne Dow) [Online] 53:90-101. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/nfs.2014.0075.
    In Marcel Proust's Sodome et Gomorrhe, the Baron de Charlus lists Honoré de Balzac's ‘Sarrazine’ (sic) among his favourite works by the author. Through a comparison of Roland Barthes's reading of Balzac's novella in S/Z (1970) and his seminar in 1977 at the Collège de France on what he calls the ‘Discours-Charlus’ (which refers to a weird verbal confrontation between Charlus and Marcel in Le Côté de Guermantes), this article explores what Proust's orthographical slip tells us about his unpredictable Baron. It also considers the extent to which Barthes's reading of Charlus's discourse marks a significant reassessment of the limits of structural analysis.
  • Baldwin, T. (2012). On Barthes on Proust. Forum for Modern Language Studies [Online] 48:274-287. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqs013.
    For many, Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu represents the nec plus ultra of aesthetic power and complexity, embodying a vast range of analytical, compositional and expressive techniques. This article explores the ways that Proust's work is seen (and used) in a selection of essays by Roland Barthes. As Malcolm Bowie has observed, in spite of – or indeed because of – his multiform admiration for A la recherche, Barthes refused to be labelled as a ‘proustien’. He produced very few sustained, stand-alone textual analyses of Proust's novel. Although it may be tempting for some to view such critical reticence as symptomatic of an anxiety of influence, this article suggests that it is less the sign of hindrance or compunction within Barthes's critical practice than an indication of the ways in which Barthes understands the nature of ‘critique’ itself.
  • Baldwin, T. (2011). The Thickness of Art: Paintings and Photographs in Proust’s Recherche. Modern Language Review 106:86-98.
    The aim of this article is to show that Proust's 'celebre jet d'eau d'Hubert Robert' is a strange hybrid: it is a three-dimensional object in a garden, a painting, and a photograph. Moreover, the referential convolutions of Proust's fountain narrative are compounded at its points of contact with the work of other writers, most notably Diderot. Proust's narrative also anticipates key developments in twentieth-century aesthetics, particularly with regard to mechanical reproduction. The article examines the 'definitive' version of Proust's description, a number of early (manuscript) versions, and other passages in A la recherche du temps perdu in which Robert's name occurs.
  • Baldwin, T. (2010). Proust and Zola: Name that Picture. Forum for Modern Language Studies [Online] 46:29-42. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqp119.
    Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu and Zola's L'œuvre appear in their different ways to be hung with paintings. There are commentators who are keen to spot them. The implication is that we may leap outside the text to find a “real” painting that might complete the “truth” of the fiction. In this article, my aim is to show that these texts contain certain descriptions which both provoke and frustrate the art-spotter's efforts. While the reader is powerfully induced into thinking that there are painters and paintings to be found, these things are in fact internal to the texts themselves. If our reading will not accept that they must remain there, then we are liable to ignore some of the effects that these texts create, important among which is their power to produce a desire for an external referent in the reader. While the passages I examine are different in terms of the objects they set out to describe, one being a description of a view through a window that may resemble a picture (Proust), another that of a fountain in a park (Proust), and a third that of a picture painted by a fictional artist (Zola), the effects they create are similar: both writers use proper names in ways that entice the reader from the territory of the novel into some extra-fictional place that is assuredly part of the territory of the world. Moreover, while Zola does not use the names of recognised artists directly, such names often come to mind as we read his descriptions of Claude Lantier's paintings. Proust does supply well-known artists' names, but also produces descriptions that compel us to recognise the referential opacity – we could call it incompleteness – of extra-fictional names in fictive utterances. In both cases, whether it is on the tip of the tongue or fully inscribed within the text, the name offers for a moment the prospect that we might reach a place outside the textual limit of the fiction only to disturb our attempt to remain there comfortably.
  • Baldwin, T. (2010). Proust et les jets d’eau d’Hubert Robert. Cahiers de l’AIEF 62:223-239.
  • Baldwin, T. (2007). Jacques Bouveresse: Being UnFrench, Metaphorically. French Cultural Studies [Online] 18:322-334. Available at: http://frc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/18/3/321.
  • Baldwin, T. (2005). Proust, a Fountain and Some Pink Marble. French Studies 59/4:481-493.
    This article explores the extraordinary volatility in the literary materials out of which the object world of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu is formed. It provides new insight into the transformatory effect that connects Proust’s quasi-ekphrastic descriptions of objects and his description of the ‘matière’ of his work. It is unique in its analysis of a passage in which an object that enters the world of the text as a 'real' fountain, mimetically described, is transformed into a fountain depicted in a painting that the text describes ekphrastically. It also provides fresh insight into the manner in which Proust, having filled the novel with descriptions of depicted and actual things, menaces the reader with the possibility that the virtual world is about to vanish, that the novel is a piece of marble or flesh, pink, compact and transparent—a real and tangible object.
  • Baldwin, T. (2004). Deleuze’s Bacon. Radical Philosophy 123:29-40.


  • Baldwin, T. (2011). The Picture As Spectre in Diderot, Proust, and Deleuze. Oxford: Legenda.
    The possibility of ekphrasis — the verbal representation of visual imagery — is fundamental to all writing about art, be it art criticism, theory, or a passage in a novel. But there is no consensus concerning how such representation works. Some take it for granted that writing about art can result in a precise match between words and visual images. For others, ekphrasis amounts to a kind of virtuoso rivalry, in which the writer aims to outdo the pictorial image that is being described. In close readings of Diderot, Proust, and Deleuze, Baldwin shows how ekphrasis can create a ‘spectral’ effect. In other words, ekphrastic ‘spectres’ do not function as fully present ‘stand-ins’ for given works of art; nor can they be reduced to the status of passive or absent others. Baldwin also explores the ways in which the works of Diderot, Proust, and Deleuze inhabit each other as ghostly influences.
  • Baldwin, T. (2005). The Material Object in the Work of Marcel Proust. Oxford: Peter Lang.
    This book is the first to describe the development of Proust’s treatment of material objects from his earliest work Les Plaisirs et les jours to his mature novel A la recherche du temps perdu. It is unique in its exploration of the movement within Proust’s work from unreflective and spontaneous representation to a meta-narrative of consciousness. The latter finds particular resonance in a peculiarly Proustian pictoriality which has been largely unnoticed. By exploring connections between Proust’s pictoriality and his reflections on ‘matter’ and ‘surface’, this book suggests a new and radical approach to the modernism of A la recherche du temps perdu

Book section

  • Baldwin, T. (2018). Roland Barthes, les variations Proust. In: Coste, C. and Douche, S. eds. Barthes Et La Musique. Presses Universitaires de Rennes, pp. 203-211.
  • Baldwin, T. (2016). Marcel Proust, On and Off. In: James, I. and Wilson, E. eds. Lucidity: Essays in Honour of Alison Finch. Routledge.
  • Baldwin, T. (2015). Félix Guattari’s Swann. In: Watt, A. ed. Swann at 100 / Swann à 100 Ans. Brill / Rodopi, pp. 35-49. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/9789004302426_005.
  • de Medeiros, A. (2013). ’Now I see me, now you don’t’: Working with/against Paternal Influence in Marie Nimier’s ’Photo-Photo’. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and de Medeiros, A. eds. Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature. Palgrave, pp. 194-207.
  • Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and de Medeiros, A. (2013). Preface. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and de Medeiros, A. eds. Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, p. vii-xvi.
  • O’Meara, L. (2013). Jacques Roubaud’s Rejection of Japoniste Influence: Tokyo infra-ordinaire. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and de Medeiros, A. eds. Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 166-179.
  • Baldwin, T. (2013). Mid-twentieth-century views, 1960s to 1980s. In: Watt, A. ed. Marcel Proust in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 199-205.
  • Baldwin, T. (2013). Philosophy. In: Watt, A. ed. Marcel Proust in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 75-82.
  • Baldwin, T. (2013). Proust’s Picture Plane. In: Aubert, N. ed. Proust and the Visual. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, pp. 131-148.
  • Baldwin, T. (2012). Grazing with Marcel Proust. In: Schaffner, A. K. and Weller, S. eds. Modernist Eroticisms: European Literature After Sexology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 63-79. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=594803.
  • Baldwin, T. (2012). Photography and Painting in Proust’s ’A la recherche du temps perdu’. In: Baldwin, T., Grigorian, N. and Rigaud-Drayton, M. eds. Text and Image in Modern European Culture. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, pp. 76-87.
  • Baldwin, T. (2010). Ekphrasis and Related Issues in Diderot’s Salons. In: Fowler, J. ed. New Essays on Diderot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 234-247.
  • Baldwin, T. (2009). "Et tout le reste est littérature": Deleuze, Bacon and "Le Temps retrouvé". In: Watt, A. ed. ’Le Temps retrouvé’: 80 Ans après. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 267-278.
  • Kear, J. (2007). In the Net of Brute Sense: Merleau Ponty’s Aesthetics. In: Weller, S., Baldwin, T. and Fowler, J. eds. Flesh In The Text. Peter Lang.
  • Weller, S., Baldwin, T. and Fowler, J. (2007). Introduction. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and Weller, S. eds. The Flesh in the Text. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 9-18.
  • Carrette, J. (2007). Foucault, Monks and Masturbation. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and Weller, S. eds. The Flesh in the Text. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 193-204.
  • Baldwin, T. (2007). Proust’s Eyes. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and Weller, S. eds. The Flesh in the Text. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 95-108.
  • de Medeiros, A. (2007). Mutilation and Liberation: Filial Relationships in Assia Djebar’s ’L’Amour, la fantasia’. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and Weller, S. eds. The Flesh in the Text. Peter Lang, pp. 163-175.
  • Fowler, J. (2007). "Mettons un peu d’ordre à ces orgies": Bodies and Ideas in Sade’s ’La philosophie dans le boudoir’. In: Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and Weller, S. eds. The Flesh in the Text. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 79-91.

Edited book

  • Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and de Medeiros, A. eds. (2013). Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature. [Online]. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/questions-of-influence-in-modern-french-literature-thomas-baldwin/?K=9781137309136.
    What is meant by 'influence' in the realm of literature, art, music or ideas? How is it related to concepts such as pastiche or parody? Self-evidently, our understanding of any 'past' work depends on contemporary methods of reading; but does it makes sense, therefore, to claim that influence can be retroactive? Harold Bloom used the term 'the anxiety of influence' as the title of a famous study, but his is only one of many theorizations that span the modern era. This collection of essays examines a variety of texts written in French from the eighteenth century onwards, together with a number of visual and musical works. (All quotations in other languages are followed by translations in English.) The contributors elucidate, question and/or draw on major theories of influence, in new readings of well-known works. Whilst all engage with French and/or francophone culture, the works examined open cross-disciplinary perspectives.
  • Baldwin, T., Grigorian, N. and Rigaud-Drayton, M. eds. (2012). Text and Image Relations in Modern European Culture: Comparative Perspectives. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press.
    Text and Image in Modern European Culture is a collection of essays that are transnational and interdisciplinary in scope. Employing a range of innovative comparative approaches to reassess and undermine traditional boundaries between art forms and national cultures, the contributors shed new light on the relations between literature and the visual arts in Europe after 1850. Following tenets of comparative cultural studies, work presented in this volume explores international creative dialogues between writers and visual artists, ekphrasis in literature, literature and design (fashion, architecture), hybrid texts (visual poetry, surrealist pocket museums, poetic photo-texts), and text and image relations under the impact of modern technologies (avant-garde experiments, digital poetry).

    The discussion encompasses pivotal fin de siècle, modernist, and postmodernist works and movements in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Spain. A selected bibliography of work published in the field is also included. The volume will appeal to scholars of comparative literature, art history, and visual studies, and it includes contributions appropriate for supplementary reading in senior undergraduate and graduate seminars.
  • Baldwin, T., Fowler, J. and Weller, S. eds. (2007). The Flesh in the Text. Oxford: Peter Lang.
    The impetus behind this collection of essays was a curiosity shared by the editors concerning the relation between the flesh and the text in French and francophone literature. This curiosity took the form of a number of specific questions. For which writers has the flesh been a central concern? Might one distinguish between those writers who attempt to represent the flesh textually and those who emphasise the difficulty or even the impossibility of such a project? How is the subject’s relation to his/her own flesh, and to the flesh of others, determined? In which ways do psychoanalysis and other influential theoretical approaches such as phenomenology and deconstruction address the flesh as distinct from the body? These questions are explored here in readings of works by, among others, Rabelais, Diderot, Sade, Proust, Beckett, Djebar, Nothomb, Delvig and Nobécourt. The principal philosophers and theorists upon whom the contributors draw include Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Lacan, Foucault, Deleuze, Agamben, Nancy and Anzieu. The essays will be of interest to readers from a wide range of disciplines, including literary studies, philosophy, psychoanalysis, gender studies, aesthetics and religious studies.

Edited journal

  • Baldwin, T., O’Meara, L. and Haustein, K. eds. (2015). What’s So Great About Roland Barthes?. Guest-edited special issue of L’Esprit créateur [Online] 55:1-6. Available at: https://espritcreateur.org/issue/what%E2%80%99s-so-great-about-roland-barthes.
    One hundred years after his birth, the work of Roland Barthes (1915–1980) remains compelling in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. The great power of his work resides, perhaps, in its radical plurality. Nevertheless, beneath such variation we find enduring purpose: Barthes is a consistent advocate of the critique of ideology; of the refusal of middlebrow generalization; of the productivity of text; of attention to the critical response of the individual. The overall aim of this issue is to show how we can continue to work with Barthes today.


  • Authier, M. (2018). Le Petit Et Le Fragment Dans l’oeuvre De Marcel Proust.
    La Recherche (1913-1922) de Marcel Proust (1871-1922) est remarquable par ses détails emblématiques: la 'petite madeleine', 'la petite bande de jeunes filles', 'le petit pan de mur jaune'. Dans chacun des cas, Proust insiste sur la taille infime. Pourtant, en dépit de cette restriction, chacun fait paradoxalement ressortir un événement majeur: les miettes du gâteau font vivre au Narrateur sa première expérience de la mémoire involontaire; de la petite bande s'extrait Albertine, personnage incontournable de la Recherche; et le pan de mur jaune donne à Bergotte une leçon de style. Cette constatation nous amène à interroger la hiérarchie du petit et du fragment dans l'œuvre de Proust. La thèse aura ainsi pour but d'indiquer si nous sommes en présence d'exemples ponctuels qui incarnent une grandeur transcendantale, ou s'il y a chez Proust une stratégie du détail hypersémantisé.
    Nous aborderons la question par une approche comparatiste. Nous commencerons par examiner le style et les univers d'auteurs français du XIXème siècle (Hugo, Balzac, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Zola) et du critique anglais Ruskin pour montrer que les lectures et les études de style d'autrui amènent Proust à construire et à imposer progressivement l'unicité à son œuvre. Nous confronterons ensuite le Proust des œuvres de jeunesse à celui de la Recherche, pour voir si le traitement et la signification du petit et du fragment sont l'aboutissement d'un changement esthétique voulu ou le prolongement d'un style minutieux présent dès Les Plaisirs et les jours (1896).
    Au fur et à mesure de notre étude, nous constaterons un inversement de valeur des deux motifs, qui d'insignifiants deviennent primordiaux. L'apogée est atteint dans la Recherche où le Narrateur ne collecte plus seulement le petit et le fragment mais les crée activement. Première étape vers la grande loi, le Narrateur oscille constamment entre le petit et le grand, le fragment et le tout pour approcher au plus près la vérité. Bien qu'il multiplie les mécanismes de perception, les lois ne résistent pas à la relativité.
    Dans l'univers brisé de la Recherche, le sens est sans cesse différé, le tout est inaccessible et le grand toujours détruit. Notre étude aura donc pour but de montrer chez Proust le retour permanent et inéluctable au petit et au fragment.
  • Grydehøj, A. (2016). Cases of Identity: Citizenship, Gender and Ethnicity in French and Scandinavian Engaged Crime Fiction 1965-2015.
    This study of Scandinavian and French crime fictions covers a fifty-year period from 1965 to 2015, during which both Scandinavian and French societies have undergone significant transformations. Crime fictions in the respective contexts have responded in terms of their content and approach to these shifting social realities, which in turn have played a part in transforming the generic codes and conventions of the crime novel. At the centre of the analysis are the two distinctive social models which these crime fiction traditions have as their points de repère: the French model of republican universalism and the Scandinavian welfare state, both routinely described as being in a state of crisis around the end of the twentieth century.
        The study establishes that early engaged crime fiction approaches these models from a class perspective, whereas at least since the 1990s group identity displaces socioeconomic interests as the critical focus. The thesis, then, adopting a comparative approach, investigates the interplay between contemporary Scandinavian and French crime narratives, considering their engagement with the relationship between the state and the citizen, and notably with identity issues (class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity in particular). An underlying premise for the project is an understanding of crime fiction as a multi-dimensional research object. Accordingly, alongside its literary analyses, the thesis places its twelve textual case studies within a wider interdisciplinary and intertextual framework where crime novels are viewed as socio-historical chronicles, as potential vehicles for social critique and as sites where various forms of identity are negotiated. The comparative analyses undertaken reveal that the discussion of identity issues is of a far more radical and subversive nature in the French crime fiction tradition than in its Scandinavian counterpart, corresponding also to more radical rewritings in France of the generic crime fiction template. Further, the study concludes, whereas the Scandinavian engaged crime novel engages affirmatively with the social consensus, the French variant has - in its dealing with the more rigid social model of French universalism - a transgressive and transformative approach.
  • Tavassoli Zea, Z. (2016). LA BANDE DES QUATRE: Nineteenth-Century Artistic and Literary Sources in Late Nouvelle Vague Filmmaking.
    This thesis examines the different ways the cinemas of Éric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard adapted literary and artistic motifs characteristic of the nineteenth-century romantic and realist traditions, from the 1960s to the 1980s. The selection of these four directors is based on their early and formative commitment to the politique des auteurs, a film criticism trend that was significantly indebted to central aesthetic precepts of the realist and naturalist novels. The profound social changes of the 1960s led directors, artists and writers to question long-accepted ideas about representation and authorship. The left-wing culture in France, which envisioned art and political protest as an inseparable whole, extensively criticised the nineteenth-century discourse on the realist novel as the outward revelation of the author's inner life. As a result, critics rapidly considered the politique des auteurs and, by extension, the universalist and openly westerncentric premises of the Nouvelle Vague as unpersuasive and dismissible. This thesis acknowledges that the relation these directors maintained with nineteenth-century thought has been overshadowed by scholarship on their individual careers, a research tendency that consolidates the notion of rupture and discontinuity between Rohmer, Rivette, Truffaut and Godard's filmographies. However, each one of them commonly returned to nineteenth-century sourcing and imagery in the post-1968 period through adaptations and transpositions of Heinrich von Kleist, Honoré de Balzac, Adèle Hugo, Prosper Mérimée and so on. As the first work to regroup this 'gang of four' in the aftermath of Rohmer's forced resignation in Cahiers du cinéma, this thesis argues that their approaches to the nineteenth-century cultural legacy should be assessed as distinct forms of reaffirming, revising, challenging and commenting on their former vision of cinema as a novelistic space, able to manifest the essence of sheer appearances. As the chapters will demonstrate, their engagements with nineteenth-century art and literature are complex. They are, on the one hand, inflected by their personal responses to the politicisation of the 1960s and 1970s French film culture and, on the other hand, informed by their individual understanding of the role of nineteenth-century narratives and aesthetic patterns within the framework of modern filmmaking.
    The introduction chapter lays the theoretical foundations of the Nouvelle Vague's early engagements with notions of romanticism and realism and, in light of the existing scholarship, establishes the aims and methodology of this thesis. Chapter two examines Rohmer's cinematic transposition of Balzac's rhetorical realism and analyses the paradoxes and modernist potential of the director's neoclassical film aesthetics in Die Marquise von O... (1976). Chapter three explores the ways Rivette turns the Balzacian myths of Icarus and Pygmalion into more immediate accounts on his contemporaries' struggle for unalienated and totalising works of art through Out 1: Noli me tangere (1971) and La Belle Noiseuse (1991). Chapter four analyses Truffaut's long series of engagements with nineteenth-century imagery and explores the reasons why L'enfant sauvage (1970), Les deux anglaises et le continent (1971), L'histoire d'Adèle H. (1975) and La chambre verte (1978) coincided with his growing conservatism. Chapter five develops Godard's relationship with the romantic legacy through the case-studies of Passion (1982) and Prénom Carmen (1983) - films which allude to Charles Baudelaire's entangled notions of spleen and the ideal and give an unprecedented attention to the aesthetics of chiaroscuro. The conclusion chapter establishes points of convergences and contrasts between the four directors through a comparative account that also addresses the ways in which their individual stands towards the romantic and realist legacies have evolved.
  • Poizat-Amar, M. (2015). L’Eclat Du Voyage: Blaise Cendrars, Victor Segalen, Albert Londres.
    La thèse explore les œuvres de Blaise Cendrars, de Victor Segalen et d’Albert Londres sous l’angle de « l’éclat du voyage » et se propose d’analyser les effets produits par la présence du voyage sur un plan diégétique, métadiégétique et stylistique. Chez ces trois auteurs, la notion de voyage dépasse en effet sa vocation thématique pour se faire véritable matière à travailler le langage, le texte et atteindre la sphère de la littérarité en exerçant sur le texte une menace d’éclatement. Le texte affecté par le voyage, loin d’être mis en péril, s’inscrit ainsi dans une modernité littéraire : en prenant le risque, par le détour du voyage, d’une écriture déformant, re-formant, re-définissant la littérature, les trois œuvres examinées illuminent quelques chemins de traverse dans lesquels s’engagent œuvres et critiques contemporaines.

    Cette étude interroge les premiers écrits de Cendrars (1912-1938) en explorant par quelles voies la présence conjointe du motif du voyage et de l’éclatement conduit à la création d’une représentation fractale du monde. La mise en évidence de trajectoires chaotiques des personnages cendrarsiens au cœur d’un monde ontologiquement fracturé permet l’édification textuelle d’une « anarchitecture » poétique et moderne. L’examen du cycle polynésien de Segalen met en évidence la présence du voyage comme le résultat d’un écart désirant, véritable menace de déchirure entre l’ici et l’ailleurs, soi et l’autre, soi et soi. Cet écart aboutit, à travers une présence textuelle, à la formation d’une poétique littéraire de la diffraction, poussant ainsi l’œuvre aux limites d’un hors-littérature. Enfin, à travers l’étude des reportages d’Albert Londres, la thèse montre comment l’écriture du voyage trouve un regain de force par le détour du reportage.


  • Baldwin, T. Roland Barthes: The Proust Variations. Vol. 62. Liverpool University Press.
  • Baldwin, T. Theories of the Novel. In: Watt, A. ed. The Cambridge History of the Novel in French. Cambridge University Press.
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