Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Bertrand Carnéjoux

Bertrand Carnéjoux, the forty-five-year-old host of the dinner party and husband of Martine Carnéjoux. He is the editor in chief of Ring, a newspaper, and author of the book Sober Pleasures, an experimental novel. He has been having affairs with Marie-Ange Vasgne, Armande, the chambermaid, and his secretary, Colette. Throughout the dinner, he reminisces about Marie-Plum, the only woman he ever loved. He once slept with Lucienne Osborn, almost twenty years ago, but he does not recognize her until near the end of the party. He obsesses about his own death, giving the pair of jeweled cufflinks he would be buried in to Jérôme Aygulf. Bertrand is jealous of the dance Martine had with Gilles Bellecroix and fears there may be an attraction between them.

Martine Carnéjoux

Martine Carnéjoux, nicknamed Pilou, the hostess of the dinner party and wife of Bertrand. She is twenty-five years old and has two children, Jean-Paul, age four, and Rachel, age two, who form the emotional nucleus of her life. Shortly before the party, she had a nose job. She knows about her husband’s numerous affairs, but despite this, she has been faithful to him throughout their ten-year marriage. She had a memorable dance with Gilles Bellecroix the previous January and is sexually attracted to him.

Marie-Ange Vasgne

Marie-Ange Vasgne, a twenty-three-year-old French Canadian model. A country girl from Quebec, she was raped by a redheaded man when she was fourteen years old. This rape altered the course of her life. She became a prostitute, using men to advance her career. Eventually, she moved to France and became a magazine model. She comes to the dinner party hoping to seduce John Osborn so that he will give her a part in a movie he is...

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The Dinner Party Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Mauriac, Claude. The New Literature. Translated by Samuel I. Stone. New York: George Braziller, 1959. Critical study of twentieth century French literature by the author of The Dinner Party. Especially useful for gaining appreciation of Mauriac’s theory of fiction; explains his concept of aliterature, which he used in creating The Dinner Party and other novels.

Mayhew, Alice. “All Things at Once.” Commonweal 81 (September 25, 1964): 20. Assesses the “suite of four novels” in which Mauriac explores problems of communication in the twentieth century. Discusses the role of Bertrand Carnéjoux in The Dinner Party and other works in Mauriac’s sequence.

Mercier, Vivian. The New Novel from Queneau to Pinget. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1971. Lengthy chapter on Mauriac. Contains an extensive analysis of The Dinner Party; attempts to aid readers in understanding Mauriac’s complex method of narration. Claims that his presentation of characters borders on stereotype and caricature.

Moore, Harry T. Twentieth Century French Literature Since World War II. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1966. Brief review of Mauriac’s work as a novelist. Classifies him with others writing “antinovels” after World War II. Sketches his aims in The Dinner Party and notes his use of readers’ aids to assist in interpreting the work.

Roudiez, Leon. French Fictions Today. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1972. A chapter on Mauriac includes commentary on The Dinner Party that focuses on the author’s techniques of narration and highlights his preoccupation in the book with sex and death.