Shaping the Novel: Receptions of the Essais
The dialogue between form and message is intrinsic to the novel as genre. Yet the strength of that discourse has been shaken in the twentieth century by an increasing doubt about affirmations of any kind and a growing awareness of the relativity of knowledge and perception. The novel reflects this intellectual current by turning its glance inward to mediate on the creative act as a form of self-contained assertion of its own particular significance. The three writers on whom this study focuses, all major twentieth century authors, were chosen because they can be considered as important representatives of this novelistic self-consciousness. Building on Andre Malraux's vision of the colloquium as an open-ended verbal interchange, this study calls upon the voices of Anne Herbert and Patrick Modiano to enter into a dialogue on novelistic form.