Michel Tournier Long Fiction Analysis
Like most educated Frenchmen of his generation, Tournier was influenced by the Surrealist movement of the 1920’s, by the existentialist philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and Sartre’s German predecessors in the 1940’s, and by the Theater of the Absurd of Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco of the 1950’s. Certainly one of the greatest influences on many French writers of Tournier’s age was that of novelist André Gide, whose récits, or narratives, say much in little space. Tournier also experienced World War II at an impressionable age, and his profoundly Christian upbringing colors all of his works.
Few Englishmen and Americans realize how popular Defoe’s The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner, Written by Himself (1719; commonly known as Robinson Crusoe) has been with the French since it was first translated (1720-1721). In Friday, Tournier uses many of the details Defoe recounts in Robinson Crusoe, but he very quickly begins to create a myth rather than simply reproduce the story told by Defoe. Tournier replaces Defoe’s forty pages of introduction, which tell the reader whence Robinson has come, with an eight-page scene aboard the ill-fated ship in which the captain predicts Robinson’s future with tarot cards, thus symbolically revealing the adventures that lie ahead.
Tournier shifts the date of the shipwreck from 1659...
(The entire section is 3617 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Michel Tournier Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!