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Riffaterre's Biography & Bibliography



Michael Riffaterre

Michael Riffaterre was born in France in 1924. He studied at the University of Lyon and the University of Paris in the 1940s. He then emigrated to the United States and completed his doctorate at Columbia University in New York in 1955. The thesis he defended at that time, entitled Le style des Pléiades de Gobineau: Essai d’application d’une méthode stylistique, won the Ansley Award and was published in 1957 by the university press. He taught at the University of New York until 1964, when he was granted a chair at Columbia University, where he has been teaching ever since. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has been editor of the Romanic Review and was director of the School of Theory and Criticism at Dartmouth College for 10 years. He has published five books to date, and nearly a hundred articles in various books and journals, writing in both French and English.

A large part of Riffaterre's writings deals with poetic language. He attempts to define the nature of literary texts and he observes how they function. For Riffaterre, literary communication is an experience whose uniqueness is rooted in the specific stylistic features of the work, manifested by the presence of ungrammaticalities. As he says in Text Production (1983 [1979]), this uniqueness of the literary text is the simplest definition of a work's literariness. Moreover, the poetic text functions by deploying many variants centred on an unvarying nucleus: the hypogram, which is the process that generates the text.

Selected Bibliography

In English

Riffaterre, M., Text Production, New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.
Riffaterre, M., Semiotics of Poetry, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.
Riffaterre, M., Fictional truth, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

In French

Riffaterre, M., Le style des Pléiades de Gobineau. Essai d'application d'une méthode stylistique, Paris: Minard, 1957.
Riffaterre, M., Essais de stylistique structurale, Paris: Flammarion, 1970 (introduction and translation from the Spanish by Daniel Delas).
Riffaterre, M., La production du texte, Paris: Seuil, 1979.
Riffaterre, M., Sémiotique de la poésie, Paris: Seuil, 1983 (translated from the English by Jean-Jacques Thomas).

Riffaterre's Theories

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