"Generation X" in France
"Génération Mitterand" or The "Whatever Generation"
"The Mitterrand Generation or the French Generation X"
"In France, a democratic Republic of approximately sixty-five million inhabitants, the label “Generation X” is not as widely known, understood, and used, except perhaps in the marketing and advertising industries, as it is in the United States. This is especially true in cultural manifestations regardless of the modes of expressions. For instance, while the French novelists, filmmakers, actors, singers, and musicians listed in this chapter all technically belong to the same “Generation X” (born between 1958 and 1981), it would be impossible to gather all these artists under a same “school” or movement. If some of them share certain interests, styles, and themes, others greatly differ in their approaches and public. There is, however, an important historic and cultural event that is usually accepted in France as the separating point between the Baby Boomer generation and Generation X: the French strikes and violent riots of May 1968. Regardless of their tastes, interests, and venues, the French Generation Xers all grew up, were educated, and observed a society irremediably marked by the events of May 68.
However, while the French have not been using the term “Generation X,” they are more familiar with what they call the “Génération Mitterrand,” in reference to the socialist François Mitterrand (1916-1996) who served as President of France during two consecutive terms between 1981 and 1995. Mitterrand’s election in May 1981 (the first and, until the election of François Hollande in May 2012, the only leftist President in the history of the French Fifth Republic) was accompanied by great hope and seen as the beginning of a new era that would bring a wave of changes to the nation. Unfortunately, after an idyllic start, the French quickly disenchanted when the country entered a long period of high unemployment that particularly affected the twenty something youth. As Susan Hayward has argued, the Cinéma du Look French filmmakers, such as Leos Carax and Luc Besson, whose films had a cult following in the 1980s, were among the first to depict on the big screen their generation’s malaise, sense of entrapment, and desire to escape."
~ Alain-Philippe Durand, Excerpt from Generation X Goes Global
Please suggest added material or comments on France's Generation X to be posted on this site:
Abecassis, Jack I. “The Eclipse of Desire: L’Affaire Houellebecq.” MLN 115.4 (2000):
Angot, Christine. Pourquoi le Brésil? Paris: Stock, 2002. Print.
Anzieu, Didier. Le Moi-peau. Paris: Dunod, 1995. Print.
Atack, Margaret. May 68 in French Fiction and Film: Rethinking Society, Rethinking
Representation. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
Augé, Marc. La guerre des rêves. Exercices d’ethno-fiction. Paris: Seuil, 1997. Print.
Baudrillard, Jean. L’esprit du terrorisme. New York: Verso, 2003. Print.
Beigbeder, Frédéric. Au secours, pardon. Paris: Grasset, 2007. Print.
---. L’égoïste romantique. Paris: Grasset, 2005. Print.
---. “Utopie bien tempérée.” Le roman pour quoi faire? Eds. Philippe Muray and Lakis
Proguidis. Paris: Flammarion, 2004. Print.
---. Windows on the World. 2003. Trans. Frank Wynne. London: Fourth Estate, 2004.
---. “Pour un nouveau Nouveau Roman.” La Règle du jeu 23 (2003): 21-22. Print.
---. 99 francs. Paris: Grasset, 2000. Print.
---. Nouvelles sous ecstasy. Paris: Gallimard, 1999. Print.
---. L’amour dure trois ans. Paris: Grasset, 1997. Print.
---. Vacances dans le coma. Paris: Grasset, 1994. Print.
---. Mémoires d’un jeune homme dérangé. Paris: La Table Ronde, 1990. Print.
Besson, Luc, dir. The Big Blue. Gaumont, 1988. Film.
---. Subway. Gaumont, 1985. Film.
Carax, Leo, dir. Boy Meets Girl. Abilene, 1984. Film.
Colleyn, Jean-Paul. “Fiction et fictions en anthropologie.” L’homme. Revue française
d’anthropologie 175-176 (2005): 147-64. Print.
Delvaux, Martine. “Catherine Millet: l’archive du sexe.” L’Esprit Créateur 44.3 (2004):
Durand, Alain-Philippe, ed. Frédéric Beigbeder et ses doubles. Amsterdam/New York:
Rodopi, 2008. Print.
---. “Beyond the Extreme: Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the World.” Novels of the
Contemporary Extreme. Eds. Alain-Philippe Durand andNaomi Mandel.
London/New York: Continuum, 2006: 109-20. Print.
Fargues, Nicolas. One Man Show. Paris: P.O.L., 2002. Print.
Hayward, Susan. Luc Besson. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1998. Print.
Houellebecq, Michel. Whatever. 1994. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2011. Print.
---. The Elementary Particles. 1998. New York: Vintage, 2001. Print.
Jaccard, Roland. Journal d’un oisif. Paris: PUF, 2002. Print.
Jacob, Didier. “Beigbeder, un mauvais roman français.” Rebuts de presse. 21 Sept. 2009. Web. 9
Jourde, Pierre. La littérature sans estomac. Paris: L’Esprit des Péninsules, 2002. Print.
Kölling, Angela. “Writing on the Loose. Reading Florian Illie’s Generation Golf, Joschka
Fischer’s Mein langer Lauf zu mir selbst, Maurice G. Dantec’s Périphériques, and
Frédéric Beigbeder’s Windows on the World as Examples of Creative
Nonfiction.” Diss. U of Auckland, 2010. Print.
Palou, Anthony. “Beigbeder dure trois ans.” Le Figaro.fr. 14 Oct. 2007. Web. 9 Sept. 2011.
Ross, Kristin. May 68 and Its Afterlives. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004. Print.
Ruiz, Raoul, dir. Time Regained. Gémini Films, 1999. Film.
Schaeffer, Jean-Marie. Pourquoi la fiction ? Paris: Seuil, 1999. Print.
Vilain, Philippe. Défense de Narcisse. Paris: Grasset, 2005. Print.
Alain-Philippe Durand. Professor of French, Interim Director of Africana Studies, Director of the School of International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (SILLC) at the University of Arizona, and Visiting Professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil. His interests include the contemporary novel, French cinema, hip-hop culture, and cultural and literary criticism. In addition to articles in various journals (such as PMLA, The French Review, or Contemporary French Civilization) and several chapters, he is the author and editor of four books: Black, Blanc, Beur. Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the Francophone World (Scarecrow Press, 2002); Un Monde Techno. Nouveaux espaces électroniques dans le roman français des années 1980 et 1990 (Weidler, 2004); Novels of the Contemporary Extreme, co-edited with Naomi Mandel (Continuum, 2006); and Frédéric Beigbeder et ses doubles (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008).