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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

How to Make a Detective Story Philosophical and Therefore Especially French

The protagonist, Fabio Montale, of France’s award winning mystery writer, Jean-Claude Izzo, is a philosophizing former policeman. What allows for this kind of character development is the unusual construction of Izzo’s plots. Rather than setting the conflict in motion with the description of a crime, Izzo’s plots are propelled forward by childhood relationships forged as a result of his protagonist’s immigrant childhood in Marseille. The plot’s denouement primarily involves the working out of the personal relationship. The solving of the crime and the restoration of justice is secondary to the strengthening of the personal tie and the restoration of the closely knit community that was the immigrant experience of Izzo’s protagonist. Although Izzo’s plot construction is singular, the development of his protagonist shares a relationship with the character development in the French tradition of Cinema Noir. The artist’s purpose in both forms is to break through stereotypes – to transform an outcast, someone on the fringes of society, the criminal or the failed policeman as is the case in Izzo’s mysteries, a respected member of society. You might say Izzo has provided a French twist on the phrase, “breaking and entering”.

Presenter: Molly Brannigan (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: French
Location: 31 Hartwell
Time: 9:10 am (Session I)