Terre-Noire, the family hamlet of the Péniel clan in the saga Nuits by Sylvie Germain, probably corresponds to a heterotopia crisis: a place reserved for family members only. Foucault explained different heterotopias in 1967, and places such as Terre- Noire perfectly exemplify his postulatse. Terre-Noire continues to be the scene of family dramas and is the setting for a troubled and traumatized clan. It is the first of literary places marked by Germain and it bears witness to family history, and above all to French history, during the two Great Wars. The place changes, undergoes metamorphoses and sometimes even suffers partial destruction, recreating on a small scale the destruction and violence present in European cities during wartime. Conflicts reach Terre-Noire with their share of suffering and mourning, and the Péniel family space embodies the place of war by presenting all the features of a deadly space. The heterotopia represented by Terre-Noire questions the notion of time, inseparable from considerations by 20th century geocritics. Also, heterotopia establishes a peculiar heterochrony which must be understood through questioning the force of the memory of the place, both in its fictitious aspect induced by the literary form, and in the historical turn of the story.
Sylvie Germain, heterotopia of crisis, heterochrony, Terre Noire, landscape.