Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



Exile is a phenomenon probably as ancient as humanity itself, and one of the oldest topics in universal literature. The great majority of its variants (political, economical, social,) are founded on the idea of "forced displacement." Consequently, most often exile is reflected in literary creations in discourses dominated by a sentiment of loss. However, in some cases exile is not seen as a tragic event, but rather as an opportunity for intellectual growth - as attested by a number of authors who have chosen voluntarily to exile themselves. The rationale behind this occurrence is a mental process I called "severance." The first chapter of this study is an overview of the phenomenon of exile from historical and theoretical perspectives, followed by a number of examples where the subject's stance vis-à-vis their exile diverges from the "classic" definition of the subject. Based on these examples, "severance" is defined as a distinct issue among the various forms of exile, and the term is analyzed from linguistic and psychological perspectives. The following three chapters are case studies of instances of severance reflected in the works of Tristan Tzara, Gregor von Rezzori, and Vintilă Horia. The comparative analysis of these author's texts provide an extensive examination of the phenomenon, highlighting its importance and supporting the idea about the necessity of marking out "severance" as a new and distinct subject matter in exile studies. Tzara's works are arguably the ideal illustration of the concept; Gregor von Rezzori's creations reflect a similar intellectual evolution, with the added benefit of several extremely lucid self-analyses directly related to the phenomenon in question. Finally, the study of Vintilă Horia's case allows the discussion of an additional number of issues related to the concept of severance. The last chapter begins with a brief re-evaluation of the phenomenon, based on a retrospective, comparative overview of the analyzed writings; its closing section focuses on two prior works related to the idea of "severance," their main points being contrasted with the conclusions of the current inquiry in order to highlight the original elements contributed by this dissertation to the field of literary criticism.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

John David Pizer