Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Most of Diderot's work makes explicit a relationship which remains hidden in many literary works: the relationship between the author and his narratee. In fact, aIl communication, not only literary communication, is based on the pair of sender and receiver.
In Jacques le fataliste, Diderot posits pairs of interlocutors, speaking and listening alternatively, in every narrative level. The structure of the novel is complicated to the point of becoming ridiculous but a careful consideration can easily demonstrate that this one basic couple is prevalent everywhere.
Instead of tying this basic dual structure to Diderot's personality, of trying to say that he was a man torn, for example, between reason and feeling, it is interesting to note that this double vision applies not only to Diderot, but to the whole fictional world he creates. We cannot communicate without others, we cannot understand without others, Every vantage point is relative inasmuch as it is only one possible view amongst many others. Everything that is uttered is not only dependent on its speaker in order to acquire a meaning; it is especially dependent on the interpretation that the other in the dialogue affords it. The reader is constantly forced to create the novel along with the author.
Jacaues le fataliste was revolutionary in that its author recognized that it could never have any sense if it were never interpreted by someone. Diderot realized that this interpretation was ultimately not in his hands. His work remains a piece of living literature because with every new reading it seems ta be able ta generate new interpretations. The reading l present tries ta explore the reason behind this enormous discrepancy to be found in various works of criticism. To this end I have studied the linguistic structure of the novel in terms of the dialogue, and through this structure I have attempted to discover the mechanism by which the dialogue form of this novel leads to an active participation on the part of its readers.
Wall, Anthony John, "La Forme dialogique et la présence de l'allocutaire dans Jacques le fataliste de Denis Diderot" (1980). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5174.
McMaster University Library