- Life as ambiguity : a study of narrative structure in Una meditación by Juan Benet.

Résumé de Thèse par l'étudiant

The purpose of this thesis is to analyze and interpret Una meditacion by Juan Benet, an important, contemporary and controversial Spanish novelist. Benet, an engineer by profession, likes to emphasize that he treats his writing as a hobby, a part-time job. However, so far he has published five novels, six collections of short stories and essays, a great number of articles, introductions and reviews in various periodicals and literary magazines. Even though literary criticism on Benet's works is quite extensive, no in-depth study of Una meditacion has been presented to date. My analysis explains the complex narrative world of Una meditacion by examining its narrative structure and techniques, such as the plot, the role of characters, the narrator's point of view, and the treatment of time and space. They can be described by using the relevant modern literary theories of Ricoeur for plot, Bachelard for space, and Genette for time. My study shows that Una meditacion does not follow the traditional rules of novel writing. Its plot is not based on spatial and temporal logic and order, its story is told by a narrator whom the readers cannot trust. Because of its whimsical qualities, the plot of Una meditacion becomes an "extended metaphor" of what Benet presents in his novels: the destructive world of Region consisting of ruin, chaos and the loneliness of its inhabitants. In my analysis I put into practice Ricoeur's understanding of the process of interpretation. By careful reading we readers can discover a multiplicity of meanings in an artistic text through the threefold process of prefiguration (collective memory), configuration (making sense of the text) and refiguration (expectation of a better understanding of the world through the text). These three stages underline the fact that readers and the text are continuously involved in the interpretative process, and that readers with their new meanings and interpretation are also makers of an understanding that allows others to share the text in a more creative way.