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Ralph Sarkonak
Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies in the Faculty of Arts

Details:
The purpose of this research project is to study the writings of Renaud Camus (b. 1946), one of France’s most prolific contemporary writers. The author of more than fifty books, Camus has published ten novels, numerous works of nonfiction including art criticism and social commentary, and a sixteen-volume diary. Largely unknown to the general public until recently Camus is widely remembered among readers of Roland Barthes for a preface that the well-known semiotician wrote for one of the writer’s early books, Tricks (1979), a kind of Bible of gay liberation.

Renaud Camus became a figure of scandal in the spring of 2000 when he published La Campagne de France, his diary for 1994. Although initially praised, the book was soon criticized for statements interpreted to be anti-Semitic. Camus was plunged into a national and international scandal that was compared to the Dreyfus Affair. Part of the "Affaire Camus" played out at previously slated conferences in New Haven and Montreal. In the end he was not obliged to defend himself in a court of law, as was rumored, but some 300 articles, almost all of which attacked him, were published in the space of a few months. No other contemporary French writer has been more vilified in the French media, although his less equivocal comments about "Arabs" in France led to little or no comment.

No book-length study of Camus exists in English and, apart from the articles produced by French journalists in 2000, most of whom had not read any of his works except the contested passages quoted out of context, relatively little has been written in French. Camus has gone on writing without interruption and has incorporated his experiences during the scandal into two recent works, K.310, his diary for 2000, and a 550-page work entitled Du sens in which he undertakes a detailed analysis of the supposedly anti-Semitic passages of his diary for 1994 and a deconstruction of some of the articles attacking him. In 2003 he also published a novel, L’Inauguration de la Salle des Vents, his most thorough treatment of AIDS to date.

The purpose of this research will be to study the original edition of La Campagne de France — it was withdrawn from sales soon after its publication, although an expurgated edition with numerous blank pages was published later — in the wider context of Camus’s entire oeuvre, something that has not been attempted to date. This new research project follows Professor Sarkonak's study of a very different gay writer, Angelic Echoes: Hervé Guibert and Company (U of Toronto P, 2000), and three earlier monographs on Claude Simon (Nobel 1985), whose style of writing has influenced Renaud Camus.

This project is funded by a $53,666 grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.



mise à jour le 16 janvier 2010 - Le lien permettant d'accéder à cette information est "mort". En revanche un livre collectif est paru: Les spirales du sens chez Renaud Camus.