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‘To everyone’, ‘To whom it may concern’: The Letter for Which No One Can Answer in Atonement (Ian McEwan et Joe Wright)

‘To everyone’/‘To whom it may concern’ : la lettre dont on ne peut répondre dans Atonement (Ian McEwan et Joe Wright)
Pascale Tollance


La lettre que les jumeaux fugueurs de Atonement adressent à ‘tout le monde’ (McEwan) ou ‘à quiconque voudra bien la lire’ (Wright) s’immisce dans le récit alors qu’a commencé à circuler une autre missive dont l’effet sera bien plus retentissant. Tout en occupant une place singulière, le mot que Robbie fait parvenir à Cecilia par l’intermédiaire de Briony s’insère dans un tissu épistolaire dense que le film de Wright fait ressortir avec une acuité particulière, comme pour mieux souligner la place de l’adresse dans le récit. L’appel au secours que lancent les jumeaux à qui voudra bien les entendre rend patente la défaillance des adultes et souligne une irresponsabilité généralisée. La lettre de Robbie est quant à elle récupérée pour effacer sans autre forme de procès l’exception qui reste attachée à sa personne. Mais outre son contenu, l’‘ob-scénité’ de cette lettre tient à sa résistance aux différentes tentatives de détournement, d’appropriation ou de destruction dont elle fait l’objet—à l’instar de ce qui se passe dans The Go-Between ou dans le célèbre conte de Poe, « The Purloined Letter » où son trajet revêt une dimension allégorique. « To whom it may concern » est à entendre à l’échelle du récit : qu’il n’y ait personne pour répondre des effets d’une lettre et de son devenir est ce qui nous empêche de mettre « un cran d’arrêt » (Barthes) au jeu du texte (et de l’intertexte) et de mettre le sens sous les verrous. Même si Atonement marque très clairement un « retour à l’auteur », une des forces de ce roman—et sa dimension profondément éthique—est de nous permettre de ne pas confondre responsabilité et autorité.

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1Among all the letters that appear in the course of Atonement the short note left by the runaway twins may be considered to weigh very little and to work mostly as a clever device, instrumental in the unfolding of the plot. Interestingly though, as Briony is about to open the envelope at the dinner table, a question is asked by the author of another letter: ‘Who’s it addressed to?’ (142). The man speaking is none other than Robbie, whose own, explosive, note has started its dangerous course at this stage. The answer is: ‘To everyone’ (142), an inscription which, in Joe Wright’s film, becomes ‘To whom it may concern’. The change can be considered as minute: the formal turn of phrase sounds amusing considering the clumsiness of the note and its spelling mistakes. But the words that appear in big, ill-formed letters on the screen also give greater resonance to the uncertainty that surrounds the act of writing. Beyond the twins’ particular plight, the phrase underlines the importance of address in the novel, of a gesture, repeated again and again, towards someone, towards anyone—another who cannot entirely be known even when the identity of the addressee is established. It raises the question of what will become of the letter, of all letters, which, despite their many shapes and forms, may be referred to as ‘the letter’ to better account for something they all share: an urge to write which involves from the start reading and the desire to be read (together with the risk of being misread or not read at all), a subjective inscription which exposes the subject to the hazards of reception and the perils of circulation.

2The message in a bottle which the twins leave for whoever will care to pick it up can first been seen as the reflection of a situation of dereliction—a general irresponsibility and a failure of duty whose consequences are about to hit everyone full blast. As we read the words ‘To whom it may concern’ something is brought home, an echo forms in the mind of the reader: is there anyone out there who, literally, feels ‘concerned’?, ‘is there anyone who cares?’, we may ask. At the same time as two children pen their helplessness in awkward letters, Robbie is soon to be accused by a letter that a child misreads, a letter which ‘everyone’ allows to be used against him. Those who might have prevented such misappropriation are not just absent or useless, more worryingly, they are guilty of the same crime as Briony: they have decided what the letter means long before they have read it. With hindsight, Robbie appears as the perfect sacrificial victim and his letter the ideal pretext to present him with what is considered to be the true significance of his birth and to cancel the social exception he constitutes.

3And yet what Briony is soon to discover is that the letter resists appropriation after all, that it is and will remain fundamentally ob-scene not just because of the words it may carry but because there is no way of neutralising it, domesticating it or stopping its course, even after the event. The letter takes on an allegorical dimension in the novel (another reason to use it in the singular), all the more so when set in relation with Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’, where the letter dictates everyone’s position in the story. The tragic potential of such a situation appears in the light of another major hypotext, The Go-Between, where Leo, the boy who has interfered with the letters he was meant to carry has remained maimed for life.

4The fact that nobody can answer for the effects of the letter makes it formidable, but it also makes it uniquely valuable. Briony is not God, mercifully, and she will never be able to put an end to the course of the letter—something highlighted by Joe Wright’s ending that takes up Cecilia and Robbie’s story beyond the frame of Briony’s final confession. If this means that she can never fully atone for what she did, it also preserves the possibility that the story she leaves behind can be picked up and read by ‘whoever it may concern’. Whilst the phrase can be connected with a general evasion of responsibility, it also invites us to reflect on the need to avoid a disastrous confusion between responsibility and authority and to preserve the free circulation of the letter.

Address and the Failure to Answer

  • 1 On rhythm, rhythmic acceleration in both novel and film and merging effects in the soundtrack, see (...)

5One may be struck, in Joe Wright’s film, by the importance given to writing, by the role of the typewriter and of the sound of the typewriter keys which sometimes detach themselves, sometimes blend into the musical score, or, at other times, morph into a similar sound: the staccato rhythm of footsteps for example or the thumping noise of an umbrella hitting a car.1 This elaborate use of the soundtrack can be heard as a sort of running commentary and marks the presence of an external voice, the authorial voice which is revealed to be none other than Briony’s in the last part of the narrative. In her analysis of the film, Nicole Cloarec pays particular attention to the way Wright handles aural motifs and successfully manages to inscribe and enhance the enunciatory process:

[…] the soundtrack can play a significant part in assigning a subjective source of focalisation or enunciation. In Atonement […] aural leitmotifs play a fundamental part since from the onset the implacable staccato of typewriter keys blending into the percussive beat of the musical ostinato is associated with Briony’s character, signalling her as either focalising or implied authorial agent. (165)

  • 2 This is not quite the same as calling Atonement ‘an epistolary novel’ as Erin O’Dwyer does.

6One way or another, and whoever hits the keys, there is always something which is being written in Atonement. Although it might not be entirely explicit, there is also someone to whom or for whom one writes—even when what is being written is not a letter but a play for example. Briony entirely composes her first piece, The Trials of Arabella, with Leon in mind. Joe Wright throws into sharp relief the dense epistolary network of the book by using the power of concentration of his medium but also its ability to extract the voice from the various letters and by giving them sometimes a deeper resonance than the voice of the dialogues. Whether he makes us hear voices or makes them visible in big loud letters on the screen, it is the same urge to reach out to the other which is foregrounded. The crucial role of address can be extended to the novel as a whole: more than a fiction containing a certain number of letters, the text can be seen as one long letter. The need to take into account the existence of an addressee—be it purely virtual—is made obvious in the third part of the story: Briony’s first manuscript ‘Two Figures by a Fountain’ is not inserted in the text but is included into a pattern of correspondence. In fact it comes into existence through the rejection letter that the editor of Horizon sends to the author, as a sort of negative, or ghost letter. In the final part, the presence of a shadowy addressee is conjured up by Briony’s questions: ‘Who would want to believe they never met again, never fulfilled their love?’, ‘Who would want to believe that?’ (371). Joe Wright makes that addressee visible, so to speak, by introducing an interviewer of flesh and blood in the story. Finally, in that last part, we are told, among other things, that Cecilia never answered the letter in which Briony asked to see her in the hope of making reparation for her crime. It is then difficult to resist seeing the narrative we have just read as a substitute for the exchange that never happened, the account that was never given and the statement that was never changed—as one long letter to Cecilia, or to Cecilia and Robbie.2

7Far from the epistolary tradition that Robbie or Cecilia conjure up when they discuss Clarissa, the letters that we get to read in Atonement tend to remain unanswered—unless we get the answer without the initial letter as in Cyril Connolly’s long explicatory note. That the novel deplores this lack of reciprocity is obvious in the first part where everyone is far too wrapped up in their own concerns to pay attention to what is happening around them and to what the others may be feeling. Briony, is the one who shows the greatest frustration in front of this lack of response, but she too is totally deaf to the need of others as she pursues her obsession with her play and with the brother for whom she has written this play. Although they remain minor characters, the twins occupy a place where this general lack of concern is made most manifest: whilst one of the brothers draws attention to himself by wetting his bed, the only response he gets is punishment and humiliation. More than the plight of the children—into which we are never given a true insight—it is again the negligence of those who surround them which is brought to the fore by their note and its clumsy cry for help.

8The deafness which prevails is what Robbie is soon to experience as his word will carry no weight in front of Briony’s statement. The absence of the father in the novel, the fact that he later simply abandoned the boy he seemed intent to treat like his own son takes on a major symbolic significance. It is not simply the indifference of one man which is pointed out, but a more fundamental irresponsibility. The father who will remain silent allows Robbie and Robbie’s word to get sacrificed to an order that must be preserved at all costs, all the more so perhaps as Robbie is a potential exception to the rule. In fact, the irresponsibility to which Robbie falls victim lies less in the failure to answer than in the fact that the answer is produced before the question can be raised. The crime which is presented as Briony’s, that of ‘knowing’ before ‘seeing’ (170) is everyone’s crime, not that Briony was ‘pressured’ or ‘bullied’ as she makes clear. But Robbie is made to fit a predetermined pattern, at the same time as his letter (which suffers a second appropriation as it falls into Emily’s hands) is read as a confirmation of all the prejudices associated with his low origin. We can even go further when we see Emily Tallis’ reaction after she has read Robbie’s note: the letter then appears as the pretext she has been waiting for all along to get rid of Robbie and pass her ready-made sentence. In Joe Wright’s film, the close-up of her hand on Briony’s shoulder as she congratulates her daughter on her statement can be seen as a gross parody of the hand of justice; the bright-red fingernails a suggestion perhaps that she has got blood on her hands. We can also say that Robbie’s sacrifice has already been written many times before if we consider the vast library in which Atonement finds its place and in particular the cross-section of English literature it conjures up: we may think in particular of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End or A Passage to India, which Atonement echoes as it resonates through and through with the malaise or discontent in a civilisation purporting to regulate the most primitive instincts yet providing means to unleash them under the cover of propriety.

9If irresponsibility lies not only in the failure to offer an answer but also in the guilty attempt to replace a question by an answer, Briony’s narrative is a proof that the question cannot be so easily eliminated and comes back to haunt you. Briony seems doomed to revisit every moment of a fateful day in the summer of 1935, but the resistance of the past lodges itself in a privileged manner in the letter she steals: an ‘obscene’ letter not just because of its shocking content, but because it can be allegorised precisely as what fails to be appropriated. Joe Wright’s key choice to have the offensive words reappear again and again on the screen suggests the insistence of something that keeps writing and rewriting itself beyond Briony’s control, that keeps writing her rather than the other way round. The question for the writer who tries to atone for the past is not just how to answer for a mistake or a crime that is behind, but how to respond to the perpetual displacement to which the ob-scene letter subjects her in its resistance.

The Power of the Letter

  • 3 See Richard Pedot but also Erin O’Dwyer and Heta Pyrhönen who draw detailed and extensive compariso (...)

10A few critics3 have noted the relevance of Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’ in Atonement and have drawn from the famous analyses made by Lacan, Derrida and other commentators. Not only is it impossible to cover all the aspects of the vast and complex debate to which Poe’s text has given rise but it may be important to stick to a few essential points if one does not want to lose sight of what is at stake in McEwan’s novel. Besides, if a number of interesting parallels can be underlined, some key differences are also to be noted. The main point of comparison between Poe’s tale and McEwan’s novel is that a letter is ‘purloined’ and used in order to wield power or at least to alter the course of events. In Poe’s tale, the brilliant twist is that the content of the letter is never revealed to the reader and that it does not matter—rather the opposite: the fact that the nature of what is written remains unknown suggests that the letter has no meaning in itself, but that its significance lies entirely in the meaning it takes as it moves from hand to hand; it lies in the effects it produces and in the place it assigns to each character in the general scheme of things. Although the content of the letter matters enormously in Atonement, its function (and the transformation of that function depending on whom ‘it may concern’) is for a part to be considered independently from all content. The other important point of comparison is that in Poe’s tale, getting involved with the letter induces a form of blindness—a blindness which does not spare those who witness somebody else being blind to what is going on around them. It is only because he is entirely exterior to the whole affair that Dupin, the clever detective, manages to see what has been hidden in plain sight. The twist of the end nevertheless reveals that at the moment of retrieving the original letter and replacing it by a facsimile, Dupin too is guided by an ulterior motive. Nobody after all is immune to the effects of the letter. Nobody can be said to ever possess the letter, only to be possessed by it.

  • 4 Georges Letissier talks about a ‘short-circuiting of the usual process of perception that triggers (...)

11In the light of that comparison, we can say that Briony seems to concentrate a double power in her hands: that of the criminal, the Minister who intercepts and diverts the letter from its course and that of the detective who retrieves the letter. But contrary to what happens in Poe’s tale, Briony cannot hold on to the letter and cannot really handle it. A line is crossed when at the height of the drama, she produces Robbie’s note, turns it into an exhibit and lets it pass from hand to hand. Far from Poe’s clean game of hide and seek, McEwan uses the Tallises’ drawing room to stage an act of public violation, the violation of a secret which exposes Robbie and Cecilia—but as it turns out, at that moment it is the accuser herself who might be causing the greatest violence to herself. Having witnessed a crime in the dark, Briony herself commits a crime ‘in plain sight’. Like Poe, McEwan plays on irony and reversal: the child who wields power is shown to go out of control at the moment when she assumes control. But as she stands at the centre of the stage, in the godlike position of writing everyone’s future, Briony is not only being written, she is being short-circuited by the letter—already caught in that ‘short-circuit’ of the symbolic which characterizes trauma.4

  • 5 Pedot draws this opposition from Jean-François Lyotard’s interpretation of Emma’s case history in F (...)

12For Lacan, the letter in Poe’s tale works as an allegory of the material dimension of the signifier, the signifier as resistant to the effects of the signified. Later on, Lacan also developed a notion which he called ‘lalangue’ in which the letter totally bypasses the symbolic order: it is then less to be conceived in relation to the signified as through the affect or jouissance it is loaded with. Unlike what happens in Poe’s tale, one cannot overlook that the content of Robbie’s letter is known: the words in the letter perform their power in an immediate manner; they have direct and real effects on bodies. This is something that Joe Wright repeatedly tries to convey. As Christine Geraghty points out in her discussion of the film: ‘The most powerful words are unspoken and appear as writing, typed on the page, and as cinema, in huge close-ups’ (366). In this case, as she puts it, ‘words do not act simply as signifiers for some imaginative signified’ (366). She mentions in particular the close-up that ends that passage where scenes of Robbie at the typewriter alternate with scenes with Cecilia getting ready for dinner: that close-up, as the aria reaches the top notes, ‘shows the black letters as they are typed onto the soft texture of the paper, ending with a forceful full-stop’ (366). The full stop which almost pierces the ‘soft’ paper marks a key moment in the punctuation of the narrative (without knowing it, Robbie is putting the last nail in his own coffin); but the ‘forceful full stop’ also releases the power that is going to sweep Cecilia off her feet and hit Briony in the face. In fact when Briony reads for the first time the offensive note in the film, the sound of the typewriter rises and what appears on the screen is none other than the letter being typed earlier, as if the gap between writing and reading the letter was non-existent. The destructive power of the letter lies in the fact that Briony is ‘affected’ by the letter, but ‘not properly addressed by it’ to quote Richard Pedot.5

13The traumatic effect of the letter invites us to look at Briony’s story in the light of another fateful interference in the correspondence between two lovers, that of thirteen-year-old Leo in Hartley’s The Go-Between. Unlike Leo, precocious Briony can pride herself on her familiarity and expertise with the written word and yet she is no wiser than Leo who finally resorts to his old childish magic and spells. Like him, she gets caught at her own game and fails to see the power contained in what she is handling. The boy who fancied himself as Mercury ‘flew too near to the sun and [was] scorched’ (17). Briony too can be seen as a kind of Icarus, unless she is Prometheus, playing with fire as she steals the letter, and then eaten up by a torment which she feeds as she tries to calm it. Briony has no other means to pay for her crime than that which caused her downfall: that sense of being in a closed circle is one of the effects produced by the final twist of the novel. The main irony is perhaps that in stealing a letter that was never addressed to her Briony ends up being stuck with it. As Richard Pedot puts it: ‘This is what the older narrator has to atone for, as if she were the letter’s ultimate addressee, or more accurately, as if she were the addressor and the addressee of a letter which slips into the novel she is forever rewriting’ (152).

14The irony is also that whilst being both addressee and addressor, Briony cannot be its owner. The letter belongs to no one; its nature is fundamentally to circulate. As Lacan remarks in his comment on ‘The Purloined Letter’: ‘[…] la lettre ne comble pas son destin après avoir rempli sa fonction’ (26).

15The impossibility to put a stop to the course of the letter even when it has been removed from circulation implies the impossibility of closure, but it is not in closure that the possibility of atonement lies. In the last pages of the novel, old Briony makes a clear pronouncement on the matter: the possibility of atonement is denied to the author who finds herself in the godlike position of ‘deciding outcomes’ (371). Briony only sees herself, at this point, as the addressor, when her endless rewriting of the story makes it clear that she remains in the position of the addressee—the addressee of the fateful letter that she stole long ago but also the addressee of her own text, that ‘fifty-nine-year-assignment’ (369) which requires constant re-reading and revision and comes to an end as all things must come to an end. If Briony were God, she would not need to atone for anything, now or ever. And if authority is felt to be a major obstacle to atonement, the ethical dimension of Briony’s narrative lies in the extent to which her attempt to address the past responsibly resists her own answers.

‘To whom it may concern’: the Message in a Bottle

16Several critics have suggested that we read the entire novel of Atonement as a letter of sorts. For Erin O’Dwyer, ‘the novel is Briony’s letter of atonement, written to Cecilia and Robbie’ (178). Elke d’Hoker, as for her, considers that the narrative amounts to a confession at the end of which Briony can rest in peace as she manages to present the story as ‘her truth’ and her truth only, and thus ‘achieves a measure of self-acceptance, if not self-forgiveness’ (41). For others, namely Heta Pyrhönen, ‘Briony alleviates her sense of guilt by writing a novel’ (115) instead of making a public statement. The conclusion is that she ‘is not willing in reality to face a situation in which she would be held morally and legally accountable’ (115). We can beg to differ here and decide to lend an ear to what Briony says at the end of Part III: there is something that neither formal statement nor public confession can take care of. Something else is ‘required of her’. And we can suggest that in this instance what is most difficult and most important is perhaps not to confess but to write, to go through the process of writing.

17First Briony’s narrative involves more than an examination of her own actions: it addresses the past beyond her own life, enables her to move from self-examination to an imaginative recreation which leads her, among other things to read the letters of others—to read them rather than to steal them. For it is not so much what Briony addresses as how she addresses it which matters: in other words, what Briony has to face is the work of writing itself—she has to put herself through the work of writing to atone for having sealed the fate of two lovers in the most brutal and shocking manner. Briony’s challenge is to bear witness to the blind and terrifying godly power of authoring the lives of two human beings, while still being the one who holds the pen. The discipline and mortification that she imposes on herself by working as a nurse (which, in the Christian ritual of penance, normally comes after contrition and confession) seems light compared to her self-inflicted ‘fifty-nine-year assignment’. If her atonement is about learning the meaning of humility, the lesson proves more difficult to achieve in words than in deed. Writing becomes her long-lasting labour of love. One of the most powerful and meaningful episodes in Part III is the moment when Briony sits with Luc Cornet and instead of telling him a bedside story of her own invention, lulls him to sleep—so to speak—by becoming the co-writer of a story he starts telling. That the story should stem from a misunderstanding on the word ‘sister’ makes it all the more poignant—the vagaries of the letter have such power too.

18Answering for the past while remembering that one remains the addressee of one’s own text is also one way of reading Briony’s decision to attend the performance of The Trials of Arabella at the end of the story. Bringing out of the cupboard a text connected with so much misery and blind confidence seems an odd choice. In accepting to have the embarrassingly naive piece performed for her, Briony may be accepting another trial of sorts: that of becoming the recipient of her own text, however flawed it may be, that of listening to a voice which is hers and no longer hers. Joe Wright’s cinematic choice for the last part consists in putting Briony in the position of the interviewee, the one who answers questions. At the same time Wright allows the story to continue after Briony has finished. It is possible to look at the final images as a mere cliché that is but a thin cover for a much starker tale. But as the bunch of letters which Robbie has been holding reappear and as the cottage by the sea comes out of the frame of the postcard, one can also consider that the letter is allowed to proceed on its course beyond Briony’s control. Freed from their moorings, the words scribbled on the page become real for one moment which can be deemed purely fantasmatic but they also create a space in which the whole text which contains them is shown to exist in an after-life. The place by the sea (after so many closed bodies of water) is the place where the journey merely begins for a story which is, in its own way, a message in a bottle. There the letter, which no one can put under lock and key, can follow its unpredictable course and be rescued by ‘whom it may concern’.

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Cloarec Nicole, Anne-Laure Fortin-Tournès et Armelle Parey, Ian McEwan’s Atonement [2001] and Joe Wright’s Film Adaptation [2007], Paris: Ellipses, 2017.

Derrida, Jacques, ‘Le facteur de la vérité’, La Carte Postale de Socrate à Freud et au-delà, Paris: Flammarion, 1980.

D’hoker, Elke, ‘Confession and Atonement in Contemporary Fiction: J.M. Coetzee, John Banville and Ian McEwan’, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 48.1 (Fall 2006): 31-43.

Geraghty, Christine, ‘Foregrounding the Media: Atonement (2007) as an Adaptation’, A Companion to Literature, Film and Adaptation, ed. Deborah Cartmell, Oxford: Blackwell, 2012, 359-373.

Hartley, L. P., The Go-Between (1953), Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1997.

Lacan, Jacques, ‘Le séminaire sur la lettre volée’, Écrits, Paris: Seuil, 1966.

Letissier, Georges, ‘“The Eternal Loop of Self-Torture”: Ethics and Trauma in Ian McEwan’s Atonement’, in Ethics and Trauma in Contemporary British Fiction, eds. Susana Onega and Jean-Michel Ganteau, New York: Routledge, 2013, 90-106.

Mcewan, Ian, Atonement (2001), London: Vintage, 2002.

Mellet, Laurent, Atonement, Ian McEwan, Joe Wright, ‘The attempt was all’, Paris: Belin 2007

O’Dwyer, Erin, ‘Of Letters, Love and Lack: A Lacanian Analysis of Ian McEwan’s Epistolary Novel Atonement’, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 57.2 (2016): 178-190.

Pedot, Richard, ‘Rewritings(s) in Ian McEwan’s Atonement’, Études Anglaises 60.2 (April-June 2007): 148-159.

Pyrhönen, Heta, ‘Purloined Letters in Ian McEwan’s Atonement’, Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 45.4 (Dec 2012): 103-118.

Poe, Edgar Allan, ‘The Purloined Letter’ (1845), Selected Tales, Oxford: OUP, 2008.

Wright, Joe, Atonement, DVD Universal Studios, 82532511, 2007.

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1 On rhythm, rhythmic acceleration in both novel and film and merging effects in the soundtrack, see Laurent Mellet’s book, Atonement, Ian McEwan, Joe Wright, ‘The attempt was all’.

2 This is not quite the same as calling Atonement ‘an epistolary novel’ as Erin O’Dwyer does.

3 See Richard Pedot but also Erin O’Dwyer and Heta Pyrhönen who draw detailed and extensive comparisons between McEwan and Poe’s texts, largely inspired by Lacan’s famous commentary on the story.

4 Georges Letissier talks about a ‘short-circuiting of the usual process of perception that triggers a haunting pattern of belated returns’ (217).

5 Pedot draws this opposition from Jean-François Lyotard’s interpretation of Emma’s case history in Freud’s Project for a Scientific Psychology. Lyotard reads Emma’s traumatic experience in these terms: ‘the child is […] affected by adult sexuality but not properly addressed by it, as it cannot translate it into its own language’ (Pedot 154).

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Pascale Tollance, « ‘To everyone’, ‘To whom it may concern’: The Letter for Which No One Can Answer in Atonement (Ian McEwan et Joe Wright) »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 55 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2018, consulté le 27 février 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Pascale Tollance

Pascale Tollance is Professor of English at Université Lumière–Lyon 2 (France). She has written extensively on British/Canadian author Malcolm Lowry, as well as on British contemporary authors such as Graham Swift, Julian Barnes, A.S. Byatt, Jeanette Winterson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Angela Carter, and Rachel Seiffert. She is the author of a book on Graham Swift (Graham SwiftLa Scène de la voix. Villeneuve d’Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2011) which focuses on the staging of voice in Swift’s fiction. She also works on the relation between text and image and has published with Laurence Petit two collections of articles on punctuation (Point, Dot, Period… The Dynamics of Punctuation in Text and Image and Photographic Text(ure): The Grain and the Dot). She is on the editorial board of L’Atelier, has co-edited vol. 5.1 (Survivance)and 6.2. (La Transmission). Her interests include post-colonial literatures (with publications on Janet Frame, Alice Munro and J.M. Coetzee).

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