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Crossed tongues: the crisis of speech in the prose poems of Francis Ponge

Monson, Jane Elizabeth 2008. Crossed tongues: the crisis of speech in the prose poems of Francis Ponge. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis is a critical, creative and part-biographical study of Francis Ponge's increasing self-consciousness around the spoken word, from his early prose poems through to his art criticism, and how his obsession with verbal inadequacy serves to undermine his stated ambition to 'side with things' and write from the object's point of view. My reading of Ponge is based primarily on observations of his neuroses involving speech, noting his first experience of being mute during a University oral exam as significant, and then exploring how his awareness of verbal inadequacy intensifies throughout his creative and critical texts and disturbs his intended phenomenological approach to things. In the thesis, Ponge's oeuvre is mainly read as a diaristic account of his relationship with spoken expression, his difficulties changing and repeating themselves according to his choice of each object, and notably his decision to work within and against the prose poem. His writing is interpreted as being about the object giving Ponge a voice - or a host of voices according to the problems he encounters through each object rather than about a poet who endows each object with a rhetoric of its own. I also explore where this 'crisis of speech' has parallels in the work of his contemporaries. The present thesis draws new conclusions about the prominence of the spoken word in his writing and his development of the prose poem in Twentieth-century French Literature, based on a combined study of his life, his writing and fundamentally neurotic and obsessive relationship with the spoken word. At the same time, the thesis recognises Ponge as the motivation behind the collection of prose poems that make up the last part of the dissertation, where themes and objects from Ponge's texts resurface. Hie collection itself starts from a similar situation to that of Ponge in which objects and language conflate with the human subject's helplessness before various manifestations of the spoken word.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
ISBN: 9781303210037
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:12

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