• A City She Must Postpone: The Parisian Geography of Kate O'Brien's Bildungsromane

    Author(s):
    Matthew Reznicek (see profile)
    Date:
    2018
    Group(s):
    LLC Irish, TC Women’s and Gender Studies
    Subject(s):
    Irish literature, Women writers, Paris, Geography
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Kate O'Brien
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M62875
    Abstract:
    By reading each of the novels of Kate O’Brien’s oeuvre as ‘a travel story’, just as we read Balzac’s Père Goriot, it becomes necessary to read them as ‘a spatial practice’, a narrative that locates itself in and responds to a specific space. The specific geography of Kate O’Brien’s Parisian novels of development, Without My Cloak (1931), The Flower of May (1953), and As Music and Splendour (1958), influences and determines the type of Bildung available to each protagonist. In Without My Cloak, the use of the monumental and authoritarian space of Versailles and the Champs-Élysées, specifically following the renovations of Georges-Eugéne Haussmann and Napoleon III, enacts a dictatorial and imposed development. In As Music and Splendour, the opening emphasis on the Place de la Bourse and the 2nd arrondissement highlights the dominance of economics in Clare Halvey’s Bildung, which ultimately ends in a paradigmatic crisis in the Place de la Concorde on her journey to the Gare de l’Est. Last, The Flower of May is the only novel to achieve the type of legitimate self-determination that is the hallmark of the classical Bildungsroman; this is also the only novel to include the Latin Quarter and the neighbourhood surrounding the Sorbonne, without which, as Moretti claims, the French Bildungsroman is impossible. Thanks to incorporating the spatial turn in an analysis of O’Brien’s Parisian fiction, it becomes clear that, to paraphrase Père Goriot, anyone who does not know the Left Bank of the Seine cannot truly know Kate O’Brien’s oeuvre.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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