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Beaulieu, Étienne, «La fatigue romanesque de Joseph Joubert», Montréal, Université McGill, thèse de doctorat, 2004, viii/364 p. Dir. : Yvon Rivard.

The opus of Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) was for a long period barely known, due to the fact that it languished unpublished, both during his lifetime and after his death, until the complete version of his Notebooks was brought out in 1938 by André Beaunier (reissued in 1994). It was thanks to this new form which his thoughts now took that a completely new Joubert came into view. No longer was he merely a moralist, as portrayed by Sainte-Beuve, whose version held sway for a number of decades, but a diarist as well, i.e., writing his thoughts on a daily basis, in the bourgeois tradition of the books of hours. However, there is something else visible in Joubert’s works, for, as Maurice Blanchot put it, “[Joubert’s] journal, while it still takes days as its starting point, is not a reflection thereof, but reaches toward something other than them” (Le Livre à venir). Toward what does it reach ? On the one hand, one can see, as Georges Poulet does, that Joubert “is not a philosopher, a moralist or an aphorist, but a wonderful poet of light.” (Études sur le temps humain). On the other hand, however, Joubert, in a way which is surprising and as yet unexplored, is also a thinker who takes on novelistic thought, that is, the Hegelian world, and thus the world of prose in all of its fullness. If we consider novelistic thought as superimposing essence onto existence in an attempt to discover the former within the latter (which makes the novel the locus, through the experience of weariness, of the question of man’s salvation in a world in which religion’s possibilities are elusive), this study ventures a survey of the Notebooks, paying particular attention to the forms taken by return in Joubert’s thought and then following the uncompleted circles of detour which Jacques Rancière has called “The Book of Life” (La Parole muette). Notebooks also provide one of the first manifestations of what today is known, with all of the contradictions which this entails, as literature.


Beaulieu, Étienne, la Fatigue romanesque de Joseph Joubert, Sainte-Foy (Québec), Presses de l’Université Laval, 2007, 330 p. ISBN : 978-2-7637-8406-9.

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