The irrational and the shift of human boundaries in contemporary novels by Castillon, Martinez and NDiaye


French novels
contemporary women writers

How to Cite

Guignard, Sophie. 2019. “The Irrational and the Shift of Human Boundaries in Contemporary Novels by Castillon, Martinez and NDiaye”. Bergen Language and Linguistics Studies 10 (1), 10.


The infiltration of magical, marvellous and fantastic features in novels which have a realist anchoring is a remarkable trend in contemporary literature by women writers in French. In order to reveal the issues conveyed by such an imagery built on various literary traditions, I examine the representations of the irrational in recent novels by three authors: Eux (2014) and Les Pêchers (2015) by Claire Castillon, Du Domaine des murmures (2011) and La Terre qui penche (2015) by Carole Martinez and Ladivine (2013) by Marie NDiaye. I use the term “irrational” as a comprehensive notion referring to the fantastic and supernatural elements in the novels, including altered perceptions, paranormal and strange occurences, metamorphosis, staging of an alter ego, monstrosity and animality in human beings, life-after-death issues, emphasised relations to nature, and other phenomena and states that can not be explained by logic. Formulations of the irrational theme exploit a literary patrimony, related in particular to the traditions of medieval marvellous literature, the fairy tales, fantastic literature, surrealism and fantastic realism. I find that the irrational articulates a shift in human spatiotemporality towards vegetal states, animality or monstrosity, and initiates an altered approach to the world. A displaced sense of reality stemming from irrational phenomena and perceptions leads to a dislocation of human consciousness which is performed through the narrative voices. The framework for the analysis consists of a feminist and posthumanist conceptualisation which involves the notions of ‘performativity’ and ‘traces’ developed by Butler and Derrida.

Copyright (c) 2019 Sophie Guignard

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