A study of the novels of Elisa Brune

Verdier, Caroline and Charnley, Joy and Lawless, Geraldine (2011) A study of the novels of Elisa Brune. PhD thesis, French.

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This thesis studies the novels of contemporary Belgian writer and journalist Elisa Brune (b. 1966) and the ways in which they provide the readership with a partial yet effective representation of some institutions and issues found in contemporary Western societies. We first trace the developments of the Belgian historical and literary scene since the country came into existence in 1830 in order to establish the context in which Elisa Brune currently writes, as well as her potential influences and sources of inspiration. Our analysis then turns its attention to the various conventional and more innovative genres Brune has tackled so far and how each is in its own way connected to an aspect of science, history and/or socio-cultural reality. We finally investigate a series of themes present in five of Brune’s novels written between 2000 and 2005, with a view to establishing how Brune’s almost scientific approach to writing, in its objective and descriptive way, aims to remain close to a certain type of realism and trigger reader response. The themes examined in detail in our analysis of Brune’s narratives are the representations of the institution of family (types of families, relationships and problems), education and how women gradually gained access to it and to work, and various forms of relationships (consensual or not) between men and women. Through these themes, we argue that Brune depicts several issues, behaviours and tendencies she has observed in societies and which can be problematic for individuals. Our study draws on sociological, psychological and feminist standpoint theories to establish how Brune’s various representations can be deemed effective and may have an impact on her readership.