n French Studies in Southern Africa - Exotisme et engagement révolutionnaire dans La Condition humaine d'André Malraux
|Article Title||Exotisme et engagement révolutionnaire dans La Condition humaine d'André Malraux|
|© Publisher:||Association for French Studies in Southern Africa (AFSSA)|
|Journal||French Studies in Southern Africa|
|Publication Date||Jan 2009|
|Pages||117 - 141|
La Condition humaine is considered to illustrate the disappearance of exotism from Malraux's fiction, with little left of the typically 'foreign' aspects traditional in the genre of adventure novel sets in distant lands. This study proposes to contradict this view by showing how the said exotism is still very much alive in the novel, albeit in an understated manner. We follow the movements of a group of revolutionary terrorists, as they secretly meet in shoddy shops for clandestine briefings. We do not concentrate on what they discuss, but rather on what the shops sell and - in the most striking of these shops - on the relationship between the hero and the shop attendant. The study offers a comprehensive view of the way the shops are positioned within the structure of the narration. The reader comes to see the powerful link which, in Malraux's imagination, gives their meaning to the objects for sale - be it clocks, light fittings, live fishes or antiques. Ultimately, the success or failure of the revolutionary fighter is highlighted by his response to the peculiar environment the shops provide. The concluding argument is set on the assumption that real life events in Malraux's earlier travels to Asia are processed through the fictional mill of the novel. In bringing together an aspect of the setting of the novel and the action, the study comes to shed a new light on the true meaning of the exotic tone of La Condition humaine.
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