Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

First Advisor

Alexandre Leupin


The strategy used in the understanding of war and the process of writing are identical: each implies a will to comprehend the situation at hand and a failure to dominate it completely. Among the "resistances" that tend to challenge the representation of war are the psychoanalytical notions of Repetition Compulsion and of Overdetermination. In the text both display symptoms of the writer's trauma after his actual or vicarious participation in conflict. The experience of war as a disturbance of the psyche can be read in both personal and collective memory, This tendency to sublimate the trauma of war through group memory develops to full capacity right after World War One. This leads to a reconstruction of the image of war through a more impersonal point of view. The first chapter examines one of Balzac's most puzzling short stories: Adieu. What is particularly interesting in this text is how the main character tries to reenact dreadful war events in order to cure his lover and to enable her to regain memory. Then, both personal and collective memories merge to form a fascinating narrative. The second chapter begins with a reading of three short stories by Guy de Maupassant. Each of these texts almost word for word describes the same action. They represent a case of compulsion of repetition sublimated in literature. This reading of war continues into the third chapter with a description of collective memory illustrated by the "unanimist" poetics of Jules Romains. The last chapter addresses a study of Bunker archeologie, text by Paul Virilio, amplifying the relationship between the insanity of a novel's character and the closure of the "real" fortification defined as a totality leading to a kind of critical approach to war which takes into account both personal and collective memory.