By definition, a novel Feuilleton is a popular Roman whose publication is made by episodes in a newspaper. It is a category of novel which is thus defined by its form and not by its bottom (just like the epistolary Romance ). A serialized story can be, in addition, a love story, of adventures, a police or an erotic Romance , without restriction of kind. Since its origins (1836), the serialized story is regarded as a literary under-production, and the virulence of the remarks made as of the medium of XIXe by its detractors can seem not to coincide with the names of Charles Dickens, Dumas or of Balzac, which was feuilletonists at their hours. The history of this mode of account makes it possible to better include/understand the questions of an ethical nature and Esthétique that it posed as of its birth, and who are always of topicality.
Dramatic serial with the serial-novel
The “serial”, in the beginning, is a technical term used in the Journalisme at the XIXe century: it indicates the bottom of the pages of a newspaper, also called “ground floor”.
It is commonly allowed that it is under the Consulat that this part of the Journal will take importance by sheltering critical first of all, then articles of literature and science. If one speaks in general about Geoffroy like first feuilletonist, the exact date and the genesis of this change are more difficult to certify. One will read in Larousse Universel in two volumes of 1923 :
At all events, the first serial is thus “serial-dramatic” with the direction first of the term (a chronicle on the Théâtre), inaugurated by Geoffroy during the first decade of XIXe. The authors who consequently fill these bottoms of page are also called “feuilletonists”, and one finds among them Dussault and Féletz (with the Journal of the debates ), Michaud and Châteaubriant (with the Mercure ) and, under pseudonym, the first Consul himself (with the Moniteur ). It acts at the time essentially of articles literary and criticisms theatrical. From one newspaper to another the quarrels of feathers make rage. Since Colbert and his company of patronage of arts, one knows that any artistic expression can be the subject of political debates and Philosophie, and it is of that of which it is question through all the literary questions. It is necessary to be able to represent the way in which the ideological debate occupied this space of the newspapers of the time, to include/understand how the progressive devolution of this same space to the serial-novel was accepted.
“Serial-novel” is the first name used when one made appear, in these famous “ground floors”, of the chapters of novels instead of criticisms. Balzac in particular made publish its novels in the press, at least partially, starting from 1831, before publishing them in the form of volumes. The public shows a strong passion for this mode of publication, and the large newspapers of the time do not fail to note the effect of development of consumer loyalty that the “serial-novels are worth to them”. In this first stage of the kind, the romantic writing is not affected by this mode of publication, which is considered like a first presentation of work to the public by episodes, before being presented in volume. The choice of the chapters presented, the cutting of work, is not, then, former to its writing. But a revolution prepares, which will involve with it the transformation of the serial-novel into true literary technique: the democratization of the press.
the Romance serial and the emergence of the journalism of mass
In 1836, Emile of Girardin at a cheap rate will transform the face of the press of the time by initiating the principle of the Quotidien. The production costs of the newspapers being raised, the Quotidien was sold relatively expensive for the budgets of the time, and pullings were in parallel rather low. By lowering the selling prices considerably, Girardin gives itself the possibility of conquering a public vaster, in a social context and economic where one also thinks in terms of Alphabétisation, of education; of democratization of the people. The other newspapers will follow its trace, would be this to only remain competing on a strict economic plan. So that the operation is viable, it is however paramount that the newspapers can attract new advertisers, because the amount of the subscriptions is consequently enough hardly to regulate the production costs. And to guarantee to the latter a great number of readers, it becomes vital of fidéliser the assistantship, which one decides to make while publishing of the complete novels, and more only in “ground floor”. It is what Alfred Nettement will call in 1847, in its critical Études on the serial-novel , “ birth of the press to 40 francs ”, indissociable of the history of the serial-novel as a literary kind.
July 1st 1836, Emile of Girardin and Armand Dutacq make appear the Century and the Press . the Press publishes the first serial-novel of Alexandre Dumas: the Countess of Salisbury , from July 15th to September 11th. She also makes appear to the Old maid of Balzac, from October 23rd to November 30th 1836. Then from September to December 1837, they will be the Mémoires of the Devil of Frederic Soulié (in the Newspaper of the debates ). From a literary point of view, the innovation holds so that the publication “with the serial” precedes from now on with the writing by works by the feuilletonists. It is not a question any more as well as possible of cutting out a novel written beforehand in sections, but of writing (and often, of writing quickly) novels which one knows by advance that they are intended for cutting. Are conceived in this spirit the Mysteries of Paris of Eugene Sue (published of June 19th 1842 at October 15th 1843, and which will inspire its Mystères of Marseilles to Emile Zola, the Mysteries of London of Paul Féval and the Three Musketeers of Alexandre Dumas.
One can then truly speak about the “serialized story” like style in oneself. The editors of newspapers consider these publications like true advertizing operations, and engage teams of authors with whom they ask to write, quickly, of the novels in the taste of the public. Some of these teams do even work of collaboration, component of the novels to several hands. Part of criticism then sees in these low publications “of page” a populist and industrial literature, for all to say degraded, and characteristic of the emergence of a Mass culture.
Judgments related to the serialized story
As of the middle of the XIXe century, the reactions will not miss vis-a-vis the growing success of this form of literature. The baron Chapuys de Montlaville will make several speeches with the platform of the National Assembly between 1843 and 1847, where the dangers of will be denounced what it compares with a true work alienation of the Raison by the Imagination. He represents here the position of the puritan vis-a-vis the multiplication of these popular novels, and translated the concern of his pars in front of the forms which the democratization of the ideological debates takes. Alfred Nettement on his side will note with regret the loss of flavor of the political positions formerly defended by the newspapers, which must now spare the opinions of all edges to satisfy their advertisers and to survive. Beside this report which it supports of some rather edifying anecdotes, it also estimates that the drift of the literature in the commercial form of the serialized story is to be put on the account of a general drift of the literary arts. The vision that it gives some makes it possible to take a little retreat compared to criticisms whose serialized story is the object:
“ Which was the authors who reigned on our theaters in lately, and which summarize consequently best the tendencies of our dramatic literature? They are Misters Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Scribe. (…) Mr. Victor Hugo, one knows it, had not awaited the novelists of the serial to rehabilitate the courtesan. (…) one saw it celebrating in turn on the scene, the beauty of the ugliness, the chastity of the prostitution, the probity of the armed robbery, the dignity of the buffoonery, the magnificences of let us haillons and the perfumes of mud. It is true that, by compensation, all the times that it puts the hands on the sizes of the family or the company, he trail them with the gémonies. (…) It is a literary terror, it is one 93 theatrical, succeeding terror and the 93 policy. The poetic one of Mr. Alexandre Dumas and that of Mr. Scribe belong to different kinds, and they attack the company by another end, but they attack it in such a dangerous way. ”
They are the whole of the ideas and the new forms of the literature which seem to worry and about which one wonders.
Other authors like Cuvilliers-Fleury in the Newspaper of the debates and Arthur de Gobineau in the Trade will note the development of the serialized story without worrying some in addition to measurement. He answers, think he, with a new assistantship which undoubtedly has different waitings, and there are nothing to conclude from it on one supposed degradation citizens by the literary Divertissement. It is rather necessary to be delighted, according to them, of the success of this literary form which contributes largely to the elimination of illiteracy of the working classes.
Perenniality of the kind
Contrary to the epistolary Romance , the serialized story passed the test of time very well. It gave rise to a cinematographic derivative, the “serial-cinema”. In the years 1910, the literary serial Fantômas writes by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain meets a success such as it is adapted to the cinema by Louis Feuillade, turning into to cinematographic serial the ancestor of the television serial, which became the most current meaning of the word “serial”. The current series can thus be considered commes the most recent misadventures of the kind.
It is always practiced in literature, and the question of quality depends largely, as at the beginnings of the kind undoubtedly, of the talent of the “feuilletonist”. Internet opened new ways besides on the matter, and it will be noted that Stephen King was made feuilletonist for the green line, left in the form of small booklets, and the time of a publication (stopped besides) in July 1999: the work The Seedling , “serial novel”, was then proposed in Téléchargement on its site, with a monetary counterpart. The publication stopped in the course of road, under the official reason for too many illegal downloading. In another vein, Internet Actu published a cyber- humorous Polar, Where my Yescard passed, of Paul Carbone, available by sendings of e-mail or on the Web, decorated many bonds hypertexts, illustrated and weekly published. Martin Winckler, by diffusing same manner the Books Marcoeur in 2004, falls under the same step. Besides the exemption from payment is an element common to many serialized stories available on the Web, calling into question one of the bases of the critic of the serialized story, which comes down systematically associating it with a mercantile step, and thus with a literary product of low quality.
It is frequent to conclude that a literary work is bad, because it was conceived in the tastes of the public and quickly carried out. It is the glance which the time carries on the serialized story, but a position which it is perhaps wise to consider with passing, when one considers the names of the feuilletonists whom the posterity preserved.
Alfred Nettement, critical Studies on the serial-novel , Lagny, Paris, 1847.
- Holy-Beuve, Talks of Monday , Volume 1, Garnier brothers, Paris, 1851.
- Queffélec Dye stick, French Serialized story at the XIXe century , PUF (coll Which do I Know? ), Paris, 1989.
- Gabriel Thoveron, Two centuries of paralittératures: reading, sociology, history , Editions of the CEFAL, Liege, 1996.
- Florent Montaclair, the adaptation of the serialized story to the theater: Conference of Cerisy-the-Room, August 1998 , Presses of Center UNESCO of Besancon, Besancon, 1998.
- the quarrel of the serialized story: Literature, press and policy, a precursory debate (1836-1848) . Texts joined together and presented by Dumasy Dye stick, ellug, Grenoble, 1999.
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