Textualizing the future: Godard, Rochefort, Beckett and dystopian discourse

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Monty, Julie Anne

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Dystopic fiction is often a soap box for the transgressive, speculative, and anti-establishment discourses of its creators. During a time of social and political unrest in France, three outstanding dystopian works appeared by three unconventional artists: Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965), Christiane Rochefort’s Une Rose pour Morrison (1967), and Samuel Beckett’s Le Dépeupleur (1970). This study analyzes the dystopic nature of these works and establishes the significance of identifying them as such. It is an investigation of the ways that these works not only imitate canonical dystopian narratives but also the methods they use to transform and subvert them. In my readings, three well-known novels serve as paradigmatic examples of dystopian discourse: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s 1984. Additionally, in chapter one I contrast Alphaville to the first cinematic dystopia, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and in chapter three I read Le Dépeupleur alongside the first literary dystopia, E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops. Because there are almost no critical studies on French dystopian literature and film, my methodology is an extrapolation of the well-established critical material by English and North American scholars: M. Keith Booker, Tom Moylan, Chad Walsh, David W. Sisk, and Alexandra Aldridge. Throughout the analysis, I indicate the ties between the social criticism contained in these three dystopias and that carried out by important modern social and cultural critics Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Theodor Adorno. This dissertation lays the foundation for future investigations in Francophone dystopian literature and film.