"Перламутровый ларец" А. Франса: жанр и композиция
The article considers the book “L’Etui de Nacre” by Anatole France as a cycle which combines texts belonging to different forms of small epic genres. The analysis of the genres within the cycle leads the authors of the article to the conclusion that the first part of the book comprises texts of literary legends, complicated by the elements of the tale. The subject, the system of images and motifs are borrowed from the genre of hagiographic legend, whereas the narrative strategies and the author’s ironic attitude can be characterized as elements typical of the genre of tale (novella) and are aimed at deceiving the reader’s expectations. The second part of the book, devoted to France’s contemporaneity, contains the texts that correlate with the genre of tale. Among their typical features are the explicit plot and the vivid pointe. The third part consists of the texts that can be defined as short stories. Initially supposed to become chapters of a novel, the texts that appear in the book as separate stories are characterized by fragmented structure, weak plot line, laconic style, which are typical of the short story.
The next stage is the analysis of the cycle structure, the principles of uniting the texts into the book and their place within the cycle. It is claimed that the different parts of the cycle contain stories that share the same motifs or ideas but are presented in the traditions of various genre canons. The fact that the chronological succession is broken can be explained by France’s concept of history. According to the writer, history presents not a linear, but a cyclic development, therefore instead of a chronological structure of the book a juxtaposition of different historical epochs is chosen – the first centuries of Christianity, the end of the nineteenth century, and the events of the French Bourgeois revolution. Besides, “L’Etui de Nacre” is opened and closed with the idea that it is possible to comprehend the essence of history only from a certain time distance. When France breaks the time logic, he allows the reader to look at each period of time “from without.”
The integrity of motifs, narrative techniques and the author’s attitude makes it possible to unite the stories which demonstrate the features of the literary legend, tale and short story. The unification leads to the appearance of additional messages and serves as a means of expressing the author’s position in the complex narrative structure of individual texts.