Breaking down the Thesis of Human Exception in French Novels of the 21st Century: Chevillard, Message and Brunel


  • Julia Ori Universidad Complutense de Madrid



Éric Chevillard, Vincent Message, Camille Brunel, human exception, animals


Starting from the book by Jean-Marie Schaeffer on the end of the human exception, it is analyzed how ontological dualism and ontic rupture—which postulate, respectively, the division of the human being and his separation from the rest of the world—are questioned in contemporary French novels. The corpus consists of three works that represent three different ends of the world with fantastic or science fiction elements: Sans l'orang-outan by Éric Chevillard from 2007, Défaite des maîtres et possesseurs by Vincent Message from 2016 and Les métamorphoses by Camille Brunel from 2020. It is studied how the traditional hierarchy of the myth of human exceptionality—human-reason above the animal-body—is broken in these stories: with the inversion of the hierarchical order in the case of Chevillard, with the displacement of the human down in the hierarchical order for Message and in the elimination of the hierarchy in Brunel's novel. It will also be shown that these changes can be observed at the level of isotopies as well, and specifically at that of isotopy breaks. Finally, the common element in these stories is the ecological commitment to animals and the reinterpretation of the place of the human beings on Earth: it is remembered that everyone, regardless of the species, is part of the same web of life.


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Author Biography

Julia Ori, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Julia Ori holds a Ph.D. from the Complutense University of Madrid and currently works as Lecturer in the French area of the Department of Romanic, French, Italian, and Translation Studies at the same university. Her main research areas include ecocriticism, gender studies, ecofeminism, and literary bilingualism. She is the coordinator for the French and Italian specialties in the Master's program for Teacher Training and serves as the secretary of the Thélème. Revista Complutense de Estudios Franceses journal. She is a member of two research groups: Literary and Cultural Studies and Gender Studies at the Complutense University, as well as the GIECO group at the University of Alcalá.