Jørgen Peter Holbøll Green
Summary, in English
The aim of this study is to examine how the need for belonging and search for an identity manifest themselves in the autobiographical works of two gay contemporary writers: Abdellah Taïa and Édouard Louis. Both authors have, during their childhood and adolescence, been confronted with a society that tried to exclude them for being ‘different’ and not fitting in the heterosexual norm. Suddenly, they don’t belong anymore, but the need for belonging still exists, despite the insults they have been exposed to. By trying to identify exactly how their feeling of belonging is treated throughout their texts, the analysis deals with the process of transformation they undertake. It’s about a re-appropriation of identity that is linked to the stigmatisation felt by the authors, upon being excluded from their families and native environment, due to their homosexuality. How does the need for belonging take form, not only in the authors’ explicit discourse, visible to all, but also by more implicit stylistic means? Are there any indications to the style that can be associated with the expression of emotions in their texts? Combining socio-literary theories with stylistics, the aim is, on the one hand, to look into the role of the performative statements in the assignment of places in the societal hierarchy, as well as the individual’s process of identity re-appropriation. On the other hand, the objective is to attempt a positioning of gay self-writing in the French autobiographical tradition, in order to determine whether or not one can consider this relatively recent emancipatory form of writing a specific genre – or sub-genre – of autobiographical writing. The analysis shows that the consequences of the performative statements issued by society are far-reaching, eclipsing not only the authors’ feeling of self, but also triggering a perpetual self-questioning, where a constant sorting of memories takes up a central place in the process of identity re-appropriation. But it also demonstrates that gay self-writing has a performative power in that it is able to “write back” to society and take possession of a vacant autobiographical space.