But the same phenomenon can be described above all with regard to A. Artaud and G. Bataille, who only recently entered fully, posthumously, in the illuminated area of the twentieth-century landscape: how the surrealists had pulled Sade and Lautréamont, so the writers of Tel that they imposed Artaud, Bataille, France Ponge as ancestors and contemporaries. Artaud’s complete works (1946-81) have been published in the last decades; also very recent the completion of those of Bataille, which fully reveal the importance of his thought and his activity as founder of intellectual groups before the Second World War and after, in the review Critique, which he founded (1946). By means of these new readings, the century changes its appearance, reinterprets itself in some decisive parts: starting from recent acquisitions, Les Temps Modernes loses its role as a hegemonic magazine, leaving space for Critique, precisely, with Bataille and his friends (R. Caillois, M. Leiris, P. Klossowski, M. Blanchot, etc.); to the notion of engagement contrasts with that of dépense (linked to the anthropology of M. Mauss). Such a shift in historical perspective turns out to be the direct effect of the enlargement of the theoretical and literary field of the more recent period, which manifests itself with different effects in the various literary fields.
According to PHYSICSCAT, the change in criticism, its departure from the theoretical ” dictatorship ” of the previous years is summarized in P. Mauriès’ Apologie de Donald Evans (1982). Dedicated to the memory of Barthes, the work describes the parable of an American painter who died at the age of thirty-one, in 1977, who towards the end of his short life, after a practice of avant-garde and expressionism like De Koonig, returns to a bizarre form of imaginary philately.
Strictly rigorous literary research continues around the magazine Poétique, which does not deny those of previous years.
Genette (b. 1930) proposes a study of the story based on the analysis of the Proustian text; the gesture of classification is staged and interpreted in Introduction à l’architexte (1980; trad. it., 1981). Around Genette and J. Bellemin-Noël grows the ” genetic criticism ”, expression of the recent discovery of the continent philology by French critics, long reluctant to recognize its interest. The new editions of Proust are an expression of this revaluation by groups of ” genetics ” who boldly insert passages from the preparation notebooks into the published text.
Starobinski continues his independent and solitary research, exploring the relationship between subject and object, dedicating his latest studies to Montaigne (Montaigne en mouvement, 1982; it., Montaigne. The paradox of appearance, 1984) and to idea of sleep in 20th century literature (especially in Valéry), as well as in Baudelaire and melancholy (Starobinski’s favorite subject from the time of his training as a doctor).
Even the most heated theorists of the previous period change.
Todorov (b. 1939) even writes a Critique de la critique: un roman d’apprentissage (1984), in which he renounces his previous structuralist creed. J. Kristeva (b.1941), who had consecrated her first essays to the foundation of a new branch of semiology, the ” semanalysis ”, gradually moved away from the more strictly theoretical moments of her research to devote herself to psychoanalytic exploration (in the Lacanian direction) of literary texts (Pouvoirs de l’horreur. Essai sur abiection, 1980, trans. it., 1981) and to the study of clinical cases, related to literary texts (Histoires d’amour, 1982, trans. It., 1985; and Soleil noir. Dépression et mélancolie, 1984, trans. It., 1988).
Some great novelists continue their work independently, such as M. Duras, M. Yourcenar, G. Perec, A. Robbe-Grillet, N. Sarraute. S. Beckett writes ever shorter, allusive, dense texts.
One of the most sensational and surprising events of the literary life of the Eighties in France is the extraordinary success of the novel L’Amant (1984; trans. It., 1985) by M. Duras. Conceived as a series of commentaries on photographs from the author’s life, and written with extreme simplicity, it describes a passionate and clandestine relationship between a very young European and a wealthy Chinese against the backdrop of the landscapes of Indochina, evoking with cruelty and tenderness together dramatic family relationships in which, as always in Duras, the image of the mother, a tangle of enigmatic and immeasurable suffering, remains central, elusive, threatening and fragile. As in the other works, Duras claims to move in a region of almost invisible and decisive truths that let themselves be captured only thanks to the resourcefulness and audacity of the narrative process. The exploration of the “ love-impossible ” connection (as of the “ love-desire ”) is one of the central nuclei of his writing, from the time of the first novels, in the wake of Hemingway and Faulkner of the 1950s. Later, through the almost elementary transparency of the lexicon and syntax, his style, sometimes broken by strangely mannered, emphatic, obscure tips, is linked to two great models, to the poetry of troubadours and the tragedy of Racine. “Literature is illegal or it is not”, says Duras, thus rediscovering Bataille’s concept of ” Literature and Evil ”, that of enfantillage. The following books, La douleur (1985; trans. It., 1985), Les yeux bleus cheveux noirs (1986; trans. It., 1987), Emily L. (1987; trans. It., 1988), the same territory, in an increasingly elliptical and condensed way.