Course of
Linguistics and Literature

Professor IWATSU Ko (French Language and Literature)

[Theme] On the time of literature

When I enrolled in college, I was previously in the Japanese literature department but later changed my major to French literature. I am now involved in comparative literary research touching upon both these fields. The main target of my research is the representation of time and memory in 20th century French novels. I am interested in the narrator's technique for expressing time especially in Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time." Meanwhile, I am studying the Japanese novelist Takehiko Fukunaga. He was Baudelaire's translator and, as an author, was heavily influenced by 20th century French novelists such as Proust and Julien Green.

I believe that all literature that touches the heart contains musings on death. The fact that we all will die at some point is simple, but for those we are close to and ourselves, it is still somewhat difficult to accept. For this very reason, the process of literary creation has continued for thousands of years and reading literature has always been a constant necessity for us. Because we cannot speak of our own deaths, literature instead speaks of the deaths of others or death in a hypothetical sense. Writers engage in expressions of time to speak of someone who existed in the past, and to prove that another version of them was able to exist. Even more so that art or music, words are filled with the potential for expressing the multilayered nature of time. This is because literature has the ability to present "times that could have happened."

In order to consider this "time within the text," we must first understand the narrative structure. The genre of literary research known as narratology is fundamental to pondering the time structures of novels. I am also interested in the process by which novels draw upon literary works of the past and mythology to unite historical times and other fictional worlds. Time within novels is composed of two parts, an internal structure and external citations, and I can think of all sorts of connections between them.

The connection between a literary work and history is also related to its connection with the land. This is because of the land being a condensation of history. This opinion of mine originates in my first experiences of studying abroad in the city of Toulouse in the south of France. As I wandered amongst the medieval Romanesque churches, I gradually noticed the voices of the people who used to dwell there. If we assume that novels are recountings of their protagonists' memories, I instead became intrigued with the idea of focusing upon the land and imagining the intermingling of the recollections of its various inhabitants.

Paris has special privileges as such a location full of memories. The things that interest me the most recently are the pedigrees of Paris' non-native authors. Much research has already been conducted on the Parisian sojourns of English and American authors such as Hemingway and Joyce; however, there is still much left to learn about Soviet writers such as Ehrenburg or Tsvetaeva, Polish authors such as Gombrowicz and Milosz, and Jewish?Romanian poets such as Fondane and Voronca. I hope to depict Paris as a place where people of various foreign nationalities come together.

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