Diplomacy and the Modern Novel: France, Britain, and the Mission of Literature
Between 1900 and 1960, many writers in France and Britain either had parallel careers in diplomatic corps or frequented diplomatic circles: Paul Claudel, Albert Cohen, Lawrence Durrell, Graham Greene, John le Carré, André Malraux, Nancy Mitford, Marcel Proust, and others. What attracts writers to diplomacy, and what attracts diplomats to publishing their experiences in memoirs or novels?
Like novelists, diplomats are in the habit of describing situations with an eye for atmosphere, personalities, and looming crises. Yet novels about diplomats, far from putting a solemn face on everything, often devolve into comedy if not outright farce. Anachronistic yet charming, diplomats take the long view of history and social transformation, which puts them out of step with their times – at least in fiction. In this collection of essays, eleven contributors reflect on diplomacy in French and British novels, with particular focus on temporality, style, comedy, characterization, and the professional liabilities attached to representing a state abroad. With archival examples as evidence, the essays in this volume indicate that modern fiction, especially fiction about diplomacy, is a response to the increasing speed of communication, the decline of imperial power, and the ceding of old ways of negotiating to new.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 248 pages
- Illustrations: 2
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
"Diplomacy and the Modern Novel is a strong contribution to twentieth century scholarly studies and Modernism. It addresses compelling connections between diplomacy and the novel in terms of style and representation across a range of texts."
Ann Martin, Department of English, University of Saskatchewan
"With a dual focus on English and French literature, Diplomacy and the Modern Novel takes a fresh approach to the topic."
Ira Nadel, Department of English, University of British Columbia
"A sharp and timely collection full of cutting-edge essays."
Gayle Rogers, Department of English, University of Pittsburgh
"Diplomacy and the Modern Novel covers an important lacuna in the history of literary culture. It shows how the transition from the conventionally ‘national’ literary traditions of the nineteenth century to our modern idea of ‘global’ literature was shaped by authors who used the practices of diplomacy to engage with foreign experience. The volume explores the relationship between innovations of literary narrative and the experience of trying to ‘write’ the foreign. This book should be read by scholars of the novel, as well as students of the changing shape of the world literary scene. The essays offer a set of discrete ‘case studies’ that reimagine the work of major figures, even as the entire volume makes an important statement about the play of power and influence in both literature and politics."
Timothy Hampton, Department of French, University of California, Berkeley, Author of Fictions of Embassy; Literature and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe
"Diplomacy and the Modern Novel throws open a Chancery window on life today in which everyone uses personal diplomacy every day, and wants government to use more of it, while neither sector, private or public, knows what ‘it’ is. This book gives us a wider angle of vision."
Charles Hill, Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale
Author InformationIsabelle Daunais is a Canada Research Chair and professor in the Department of French Literature at McGill University.
Allan Hepburn is the James McGill Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature at McGill University.
Table of contents
The Mission of Literature: Modern Novels and Diplomacy
Allan Hepburn, McGill University
Part One: Diplomatic Experience
1. Making a Song and Dance of It: Staging Diplomacy in William Gerhardi’s Early Novels
Claire Davison, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
2. The League of Nations as Seen by Albert Cohen: A User’s Guide to Social Magic
Maxime Decout, Université de Lille
3. Modern Negotiations: Harold Nicolson’s Peacemaking 1919 and Public Faces
Caroline Z. Krzakowski, Northern Michigan University
Part Two: Novels and Diplomacy
4. Diplomatic Dispatch Style: Towards a New Aesthetic of the Novel
Isabelle Daunais, McGill University
5. Conrad’s Politics of Idealism: Diplomacy without Diplomats
Stephen Ross, University of Victoria
6. André Gide and the Art of Evasion
Michel Biron, McGill University
Part Three: Documents
7. Proust’s Epistolary Diplomacy: Antoine Bibesco, René Peter, and “Salaïsme”
François Proulx, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
8. The Art of Conversation: Nancy Mitford, France, and Cultural Diplomacy
Allan Hepburn, McGill University
Part Four: Foreign Affairs
9. Action, Diplomacy, Art: André Malraux and Graham Greene
Robert L. Caserio, Pennsylvania State University
10. Mythography and Diplomacy in Works by Ian Fleming and John le Carré
Maxime Prévost, University of Ottawa
11. Lawrence Durrell: Diplomacy as Farce
Maria DiBattista, Princeton University
Subjects and Courses