Levy, Clara and Quemin, Alain: Criticism of literary texts by amateurs on the internet on two books by Patrick Modiano

On October 9, 2014, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to the French writer Patrick Modiano. We then began investigating the “Nobel Factory”, to understand how and why this writer was able to win the most prestigious literary prize in the world. We decided to consider, in our research, the ordinary receptions of this writer’s texts. With P. Modiano, print runs and sales are indeed massive enough for the notices that are filed online by readers-internauts to epresent a rich and exploitable corpus. The question here is to compare cultural reviews published on and mediated by the Internet, and therefore a priori largely written by a lay public of amateurs and for the benefit of other amateurs, with professional reviews, written by specialized authors who know that they will be read by both amateurs and peers in the literary space. Can amateur criticism compete with, supplement or even supplant professional expertise and under what forms? More specifically, we would like to ask this question about the literary reviews of Patrick Modiano’s texts that have been put online on two sites: Amazon and Babelio. We therefore propose to analyse the registers of discourse used by Internet users who post their opinions and notes on these two sites, with the registers of discourse of professional literary critics as a point of comparison. In a first part, we will briefly present the two sites, Amazon and Babelio (their French-speaking sites), from the perspective of their respective histories and developments, highlighting their similarities and differences. In the second part, we will present the main objective characteristics of the comments posted on these two sites about two works by P. Modiano: Dora Bruder and Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier – ; we will analyze the content of the corpus of almost three hundred reviews collected on the Amazon and Babelio sites about these two works. We will analyze the registers of discourse mobilized by Internet users to report on these works, and their more or less marked discrepancy with the register of professional critical discourse. We will thus study the values mainly mobilized to report the works of Modiano commented on : the aesthetic value, the value of authenticity, the moral value, the value of originality and finally the affective value.