Bernard-Marie Koltès : Vers une éthique de l'imagination

Stina Palm

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (monografi)


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine to what extent the dramatic work of Bernard-Marie Koltès could serve as a basis for ethical reflections. The main object of the study is Koltès' construction of his characters by certain narrative techniques embedded in the dramatic structure and energizing the interpersonal conflicts. By telling their past and expressing their future prospects, the protagonists gradually come to life, giving the spectators an impression of being real people in spite of their fictionality. In referring to times, places, actions and situations outside what is actually here and now, the characters open up intriguing perspectives of fundamental existential and ethical themes and alienation, alterity and the relation of the Other.
The first chapter contains a general discussion of the notion of character in literature. The theories of Vincent Jouve, developped in his L'effet-personnage dans le roman (1992, function as a guide to a complex understanding of the impact of narrative elements in contructing characters as if they were flesh-and-blood beings. Paul Ricœur's concept of narrative identity is used in order to link the narratological view of dramatic interactions with ethical effects, reactions and reflections on the part of the reader and the spectator. This concept includes not only the temporal dimension of being but also the importance of alterity in the process of self-being.
A close analysis of three main plays of Koltès – Combat de nègre et de chiens, Quai Ouest, Le retour au désert – shows in which ways the characters become narrators of their own lives by remembering a past and inventing a future. Of course, this dramatic process of contructing a narrative self and a narrative identity could not take place without close interactions and interrelations with other selves. An Ethic of the Other is the dramaturgical and existential energy in Koltès' plays.
In a broader perspective, the last chapter takes into consideration the possible responsive alternatives of confronting the existential and ethical issues in Koltès' dramatic art. In order to embrace both the spectators' attitude towards the characters of the plays – the empathic engagement with fictions – and the potential of a response provoking an empathizing attitude in real life, we propose to characterize the work of Koltès as a theatre of empathy.
Tilldelande institution
  • Språk- och litteraturcentrum
  • Larsson, Björn, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2009 apr. 4
StatusPublished - 2009

Bibliografisk information

Defence details

Date: 2009-04-04
Time: 10:15
Place: Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Sarrazac, Jean-Pierre
Title: Professor
Affiliation: University Paris III, France


Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Språk och litteratur

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