Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Thierry Beinstingel

Core reading

Thierry Beinstingel, Ils désertent (Fayard, 2012) [please buy the Livre de poche edition]

Advance preparation

Week 1

  1. Describe the two main characters, ‘l’ancêtre’ and ‘la jeune sportive’. How apt are these nicknames? (Identify key moments in the text and prominent characteristics.)
  2. Analyse and discuss the novel's unusual narrative form: the two narrative voices, narrators and narratees. Describe and analyse the use of this technique as the novel develops: what effect(s) does it have? When in the text (on first reading) can we identify the two narrators and narratees?
  3. Discuss the novel's portrayal of social class (in particular through the mother’s ambivalence to her daughter’s educational and professional career).
  4. Identify and discuss all of the many and various meanings and resonances of the novel’s title.
  5. Discuss the novel’s depiction of the changing landscape of France, focusing in particular on the periurban landscape.
  6. Student presentation: In what ways is the economic crisis legible in this novel?

Week 2

  1. What does the novel suggest about the effects of work on family life in contemporary France?
  2. Describe and discuss the novel’s portrayal of contemporary French workplace and management practice.
  3. Research the life and work of nineteenth-century poet and arms dealer Arthur Rimbaud. What use is made of him in the novel?
  4. How does the book present the sales patter of ‘l’ancêtre’ and what do you make of this presentation?
  5. Passage for commentary: ‘Vivre seule donc…’ (p.60) => ‘cette histoire qui t’a refroidie, aussi.’ (p.61)

Further reading

  • Beinstingel, Thierry, ‘Langages et littératures du travail chez les écrivains français depuis mai 1968’, Intercâmbio 2a, 5 (2012): 50–60. See here.
  • Labadie, Aurore, ‘Le roman d’entreprise français au tournant du XXIe siècle’, Les Cahiers de Ceracc 7 (2014). See here.
  • Michel, Chantal, 'Travail et contrainte dans l’œuvre de Thierry Beinstingel', Intercâmbio 2a, 5 (2012): 136-154. See here.
  • Viart, Dominique, ‘Écrire le travail : vers une sociologisation du roman contemporain ?’, (5 January 2016).
  • Waters, Sarah, ‘The 2008 Economic Crisis and the French Narrative of National Decline: Une causalité diabolique’, Modern & Contemporary France 21, 3 (2013). Available via the Library here.


Week 1

Week 2