The Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in the Nineteenth-Century French Novel from Stendhal to Zola
The purpose is to study how the cosmopolitan/vernacular dynamic is represented in novels by Balzac, Stendhal, Flaubert and Zola, at a thematic, intratextual level as well as in translations of the novels into Swedish and in their reception in Sweden. In these novels, the movement from the provinces to a more global milieu, primarily Paris, is fundamental. How is this movement represented in the novels and how do the protagonists deal with it? Paris is an important centre for art, literature and politics, a cosmopolitan city, with innumerable connections with a wider world. By studying this topic in widely spread novels from the nineteenth century, the project will reveal new aspects of these texts and of their reception. These revelations will also mean insights concerning the vernacular/cosmopolitan dynamic in general; in fact, the novels constitute representations of human and social structures, in local and global contexts — in the nineteenth century but, to a large extent, valid at all times.
The reception study will focus on the Scandinavian countries, primarily Sweden, and mainly cover the last 20 years. In cases where reception studies already exist of the same texts in other parts of the world (Russia and the USA, for instance) and in the past, comparisons to these will be made. Several theoretical fields will be useful: narrative theory, world literature theory, translation and reception theories. Methods will consist of close reading of the novels and study of different types of reception: in Swedish press (that is by journalists), on the Internet (by a wide range of readers) and among students studying the novels within university courses.