Maupassant: the Semiotics of Text

Practical Exercises

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Translated by Paul Perron Maupassant's short story, “Two Friends”, is examined in order to test methodological tools and to hone them for their application in the analysis of narrative discourse, starting from the oral tale (Propp) and ending with the written tale instituted as literary genre. Complex procedures of textual production are identified: among which entire sequences as well as the “evenemential” level of narrative fade away in favor of its cognitive dimension. This semiotic investigation is accompanied by a challenge to certain conventions of literary criticism: dialogue, the locus of Realist stereotypes, appears laden with paradoxical truths; the description of nature, inherited from the Romantics, bristles with narrative intent, and entire sections of a valorized figurative universe unfold before us. Thematic readings are linked up with semantic analysis: the figure of Water exerts its profound fascination. A Christian symbolics is uncovered which traverses the text and invites us to read it as a new Gospel Parable. New readings complement older ones and remain as so many suspended possibilities. The tale appears somewhat as a sonnet, that is to say as a “fixed-form” genre, where the closure of the text would be a necessary condition for transcending it.
[Semiotic Crossroads, 1] 1988.  xxxiv, 258 pp.
Publishing status: Available
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Cited by

Cited by 23 other publications

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2001. Translation and articulation in the organization of coalitions: the Great Whale River case. Communication Theory 11:2  pp. 178 ff. DOI logo
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2004. Speech Timing and Spacing: The Phenomenon of Organizational Closure. Organization 11:6  pp. 793 ff. DOI logo
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Literature & Literary Studies

Romance literature & literary studies

Main BIC Subject

DSB: Literary studies: general

Main BISAC Subject

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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  88009542 | Marc record