Encouraging a dialogue between Literary Theory, Discourse Analysis and Testimonial Studies, this paper discusses conversationally recollected experience in French and Greek novels of First World War testimonial literature. The present analysis gives special emphasis to the way in which combatants reconstitute their knowledge of the trenches and the battlefront in the course of their conversations with civilians. Instead of a scrupulous reminiscence, such conversationally formulated testimonies present a specific version of combatants’ reality, compatible with their recipients’ beliefs on the war. The whole recollection process appears then to be the result of an underlying tension between combatants' testimonial identity and their competence to defend it before those who are expected to be the recipients of their recollected experience. The analysis of the discursive practices they use proves sufficiently that such a testimony is in fact a meta-memory which appropriates combatants' experiences to their identity claims. Oscillating between the transmissibility of combatants' life and their need to be present in the testimonial field, such a testimony finally formulates an eccentric discourse on the war, indicative of the representational dilemmas which are inherent not only in the narrative it is part of but in almost any literary testimony.
|Keywords:||Literary Theory and Conversation Analysis, Discursive Strategies, Testimonial Discourse, War Literature, Documentary Fiction, Trauma Narrative, Memory, Identity|
Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle, France
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