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La constellation de Thespis: Présence du théâtre et dimension métathéâtrale dans l’œuvre dramatique de Victor Hugo
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Romance Languages.
2003 (French)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Thespis' constellation : Presence of theatre and metatheatrical dimension in Victor Hugo's dramatic works (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis deals with the different aspects of metatheatricality in Victor Hugo’s dramatic works. Through a textual approach, it is shown how the author’s writing is marked by the presence of theatre within and about theatre, which is organized as a constellation of occurrences. The purpose here is to investigate its different modes of expression and its significations.

Spotting both the lexical field of theatre and diverse devices intended to break the play’s illusionist frame makes it possible to understand how Hugo creates a double theatrical universe, operating on both the reader and the virtual spectator. This study goes through the scenic indications, the metadramatic discourse, the addresses to the receptor audience, the metatheatrical structures and the theatre thematics, which all bring to light strategies of distanciation, play between illusion and reality, and recalls of the very concrete play’s and life’s conditions. Hugo also inserts commentaries on his own writing or on general theatrical conventions, discusses more or less explicitly the essence of theatre and its paradoxes, and makes intertextual allusions assuring the intrusion of theatrical history.

The topos of theatrum mundi supports the oscillation between the depreciation of life seen as a comedy where human beings play an absurd role, and the absolute belief in the presence of God, the all-knowing author and spectator who is however also helped by Satan. Most typically, the grotesque characters express disillusion and simultaneously mediate metatheatricality. By dramatising themselves in a self-conscious process, they denounce appearances, and their vain speech at the fictional level is efficient at the external communication level. By ways of metatheatricality, Hugo can put forwards the ideological and sociological questions which are of importance to him. Metatheatricality makes it possible to reorientate denouements and to reverse the tragic onto more positive values.

These strategies all work in a coherent way: they merge and complete each other. When appearances and theatre are present as a theme, the text programs the showing of the theatrical situation, and the focus is set on the stage and performance. Hugo’s theatre turns to itself, and the author’s use of metatheatricality can be seen as the expression of a structure of his imagination, which is both spectacular and specular.

This thesis deals with the different aspects of metatheatricality in Victor Hugo’s dramatic works. Through a textual approach, it is shown how the author’s writing is marked by the presence of theatre within and about theatre, which is organized as a constellation of occurrences. The purpose here is to investigate its different modes of expression and its significations.

Spotting both the lexical field of theatre and diverse devices intended to break the play’s illusionist frame makes it possible to understand how Hugo creates a double theatrical universe, operating on both the reader and the virtual spectator. This study goes through the scenic indications, the metadramatic discourse, the addresses to the receptor audience, the metatheatrical structures and the theatre thematics, which all bring to light strategies of distanciation, play between illusion and reality, and recalls of the very concrete play’s and life’s conditions. Hugo also inserts commentaries on his own writing or on general theatrical conventions, discusses more or less explicitly the essence of theatre and its paradoxes, and makes intertextual allusions assuring the intrusion of theatrical history.

The topos of theatrum mundi supports the oscillation between the depreciation of life seen as a comedy where human beings play an absurd role, and the absolute belief in the presence of God, the all-knowing author and spectator who is however also helped by Satan. Most typically, the grotesque characters express disillusion and simultaneously mediate metatheatricality. By dramatising themselves in a self-conscious process, they denounce appearances, and their vain speech at the fictional level is efficient at the external communication level. By ways of metatheatricality, Hugo can put forwards the ideological and sociological questions which are of importance to him. Metatheatricality makes it possible to reorientate denouements and to reverse the tragic onto more positive values.

These strategies all work in a coherent way: they merge and complete each other. When appearances and theatre are present as a theme, the text programs the showing of the theatrical situation, and the focus is set on the stage and performance. Hugo’s theatre turns to itself, and the author’s use of metatheatricality can be seen as the expression of a structure of his imagination, which is both spectacular and specular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Romanska institutionen , 2003. , 386 p.
Keyword [en]
Romance languages - general, Victor Hugo, metatheatre, theatre in theatre, theatricalization, scenic indications, metadramatic discourse, theatrum mundi, grotesque
Keyword [sv]
Romanska språk - allmänt
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Romance Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3422OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3422DiVA: diva2:162747
Public defence
2003-05-24, Ihresalen, Språkvetenskapligt centrum, Uppsala, 14:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2003-04-11 Created: 2003-04-11 Last updated: 2015-10-29Bibliographically approved

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Robardey-Eppstein, Sylviane

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