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‘De la science dans la fiction’ : Elisa Brune’s Petite révision du ciel and Les Jupiters chauds

Verdier, Caroline (2013) ‘De la science dans la fiction’ : Elisa Brune’s Petite révision du ciel and Les Jupiters chauds. MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 7. pp. 16-23.

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This article examines two novels by Belgian writer Elisa Brune that can be labelled as scientific novels, for they offer the reader a combination of literary narration and scientific popularisation. Our brief analysis considers Brune’s first novel Petite révision du ciel (1999) and its sequel Les Jupiters chauds (2002), and describes the different ways in which the writer has chosen to include science in them. Although in her several essays and novels dealing with science Elisa Brune is keen to portray scientists, and to highlight the link between their personal lives and their field of research, our article will only focus on Brune’s other objective with these two narratives: making ‘hard’ science, notably physics and astrophysics, more accessible to a wide readership in a less conventional way than traditional publications of scientific popularisation. The challenge for the writer was therefore to integrate scientific elements into the plot in a way that would not deter novel readers, and to make the scientific explanations easy enough to understand, especially for those with little scientific background. This article seeks to establish how successful Elisa Brune is at including scientific elements and references in her writing, and how effective this combination of literary creativity and scientific knowledge may be at popularising science. To this end, some examples of the inclusion of scientific elements in both narratives are analysed, and followed by a reflection on the type of readership likely to enjoy Brune’s narratives.