Performing Authorship: The case of Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Michel Houellebecq

Chourrout, Chloé. 2022. Performing Authorship: The case of Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Michel Houellebecq. Other thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Performing Authorship: The case of Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Michel Houellebecq)
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Abstract or Description

Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Michel Houellebecq both approach the paratextual practice of the literary interview as a performance. Moreover, they both share an openly cynical attitude towards the press and critics, and it is within these power relations that a fictional character is created – the author.

Within this framework, the literary field is a stage in which an agent can only become an author if he hides behind the mask of his ‘posture’. The space of the paratext then becomes a field of forces, the site of a power struggle between several agents of the literary field; the author, the publisher, the literary critics and the media all trying to control the author’s image and the reception of the text. The final aim of this struggle lies in the attribution of value to a work, and who decides on the ‘correct’ interpretation, the ‘true’ meaning of a text.

Based on Jérôme Meizoz’s theory of ‘authorial posture’, it is the contention of this thesis that Louis Destouches and Michel Thomas are performers; and ‘Céline’ and ‘Houellebecq’ their fictional creations, which are, furthermore, not to be confused with ‘Ferdinand’ and ‘Michel’, their first-person narrators. Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Michel Houellebecq both introduce an element of performance between author and text. They become fictional creations by retroactively ‘acting out’ the main characters created in their novels in the public sphere. The performance changes the status of the author and of the text, destabilizes the dynamic between author and text, and puts into question the production of meaning, whereby any attempt at interpretation becomes self-contradictory. This thesis is, therefore, an attempt to answer the following questions: how do Céline and Houellebecq change the way one reads a text? How do they subvert the idea of the ‘author-function’?

Item Type:

Thesis (Other)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:



Celine, Houellebecq, Meizoz, paratext, authorial posture, performance, author-function

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 April 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 May 2022 14:51

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:19


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