Current Issue Abstracts
Vol. 45.1 Spring 2020
Partant de la célèbre dispute qui oppose Rousseau et Voltaire au sujet du progrès des sociétés humaines, nous montrons d'abord que l'exemple des conquêtes tartares de la Chine y occupe une place de choix et que la façon dont les deux penseurs français des Lumières appréhendent le couple Chinois-Tartare dépend non seulement d'un positionnement idéologique préexistant mais aussi des sources où chacun puise ses informations. En faisant un pas de plus dans l'analyse philologique des documents tibétains, nous montrons ensuite que les points de vue contrastés que Voltaire et Rousseau livrent sur les Chinois "civilisés" et les Tartares "barbares" font écho à la manière dont les peuples d'Asie eux-mêmes, indépendamment des préjugés européens, se dénomment et se représentent les uns les autres.
Dans Sodome et Gomorrhe, le narrateur décrit « le célèbre jet d'eau d'Hubert Robert ». Plusieurs critiques, dont Eve Sedgwick, distinguent dans ce blason de la fontaine une allégorie de la lecture. Cet article commence par une analyse de l'ekphrasis de ce jet d'eau dans la Recherche, puis contraste la lecture de Georges Poulet, qui recourt également à l'image de la fontaine, et celle d'Eve Sedgwick, notamment en ce qui a trait à la notion de temps. Contrairement à l'universalisme existentialiste de Poulet, Sedgwick introduit un point de vue typiquement féministe et queer. L'auteur ensuite démontre comment cette autre allégorie de la lecture et de la Recherche s'inscrit dans le prolongement du travail de Paul de Man. Enfin, l'auteur met en évidence comment le blason de la fontaine chez Sedgwick s'appuie sur ses lectures précédentes de Proust dans Epistemology of the Closet et fait écho à une autre allégorie : celle du placard de lecture. On peut ainsi retracer les métamorphoses de la théorie queer. La lecture par Sedgwick de l'allégorie de la fontaine met en évidence comment la théorie queer mène d'une critique systématique des caractérisations normatives de la sexualité à une déconstruction du sujet moderne qu'elles présupposent.
Tactility in Valéry's Aesthetics: Fragment and Duration
The tactile experience plays a major role in Paul Valéry's work. In Valéry's view, touch, or tactility takes part in the aesthetic experience not only at the immediate level, as an actual sensation, but also at the imaginary level, as a virtual experience which shapes human perception and consciousness. The very movement of the hand and the body, and its interaction with objects, endow the creative action with contingency and unpredictability. This notion of tactility is used by Valéry to emphasize the fragmented and discontinuous nature of the creative process, which eludes prior models and intentions. Most originally, Valéry frames touch as endowing matter with a certain temporal sequence or rhythm, rhythm which then proceeds to "infect" the recipients of the work. The article draws on late 19th and early 20th century discourse on tactility and temporality, in the domains of poetics, science, and technology, in order to contextualize Valéry's ideas and to stress their synthetic value and their originality. Special attention is given to Valéry's essay on Degas, as a piece which showcases this notion of tactility, both at the explicit level, in Valéry's analysis of Degas' work and method, and at the formal level, as a way to participate and pursue the painter's immanent rhythm.
Communicating Difference: Charlotte Delbo and Holocaust Testimony
Charlotte F. Werbe
This article examines how Charlotte Delbo, a concentration camp survivor and resistance member, employs a structure of comparison in Les Belles lettres (1961) and in Mesure de nos jours (1971). In the former, Delbo recirculates letters about the Algerian War that were published in the French media between 1959-1961. In these letters, World War II is frequently invoked as a point of reference, setting up a structure of juxtaposition between it and the conflict in North Africa. While event and event are compared in Les Belles lettres, testimony and testimony are compared in Mesure de nos jours, a volume comprised of brief testimonial vignettes describing the process of reintegration in France after the Holocaust. Although Les Belles lettres is generically and thematically distinct from Mesure de nos jours, its composition offers insight into the ways that Delbo stages comparison as a process
Names and numbers, mostly in the form of statistics, each play a role in the memorialization of collective tragedies. Names have nonetheless been privileged as that which humanizes the experience and subsumes affectless questions of scale to the personal. Writing at a time when AIDS was transitioning from a fatal epidemic to a chronic disease, Catherine Mavrikakis uses a fictocritical approach in Deuils cannibales et mélancoliques (2000) to relay for readers the receding experience of AIDS as an epidemic. A singular name, Hervé, an intertextual reference to the work of Hervé Guibert and Mavrikakis' own scholarship on Guibert's AIDS writings, functions as an indexical sign. Through repetition and conferral upon multiple (mostly HIV-positive) characters, Hervé – as name – becomes the metonymic means by which the coldness of numbers and the weight of mass tragedy are made appreciable, for the name acquires new semantic meaning through disassociation with individual characters. Breaking with conventions of naming and characterisation, Mavrikakis' complex and confusing text challenges readers to make sense of the interplay of names and numbers, individuals and groups, in memorial practices for what has become an endemic tragedy.
Les Années: Album-photo d'une vocation?
This articles examines the ambivalent passages which separate, in Annie Ernaux's Les Années, the photographic descriptions from the narration. It supports the idea that these undefinable passages reveal, apart from he book's stated aim – constituting the autobiography of an era – another crucial issue allowing us to read Les Années as the story of a vocation as a writer. We should then read Les Années as the story of its own birth. This dimension becomes apparent in the book with the growing importance of references to Proust's Recherche, which tells the story of it's own emergence
Julia Deck's Geometries
Second novels are often where literary careers are made, or on the contrary where they founder. Julia Deck's Le Triangle d'hiver (2014) amply fulfills the rich promise of her first novel, Viviane Élisabeth Fauville (2012), putting on display a pleasing lightness of touch and an impressive degree of narrative confidence. That latter quality serves Deck particularly well, for the story she tells contains more than a few twists. Things are constantly in flux in this novel, and appearances are in some ways more reliable than realities. Even the most attentive of readers is likely to nonplussed at some point. But that sort of narrative sleight of hand is part of Deck's wager, of course; and like any successful feat of prestidigitation, it relies on our willingness to be fooled.
The poetry of Christian Prigent focuses on the act of articulation involving both the body as a site of muscular movements and language as a codified system. This act is captured in the figure of the œuvide as a conflation of œuvre / œuf and vide insofar it conforms to the structure of desire and the void that lies at its centre. The study aims to gauge the significance of the œuvide by taking into account Prigent's theoretical and critical writings, including his explicit reference to Lacan. It proceeds by introducing two concepts that Prigent does not often refer to, namely full speech and imaginary excess, with the aim of showing how the melding of verbalization and corporality functions in Prigent's now substantial body of poetic work. Full speech appears in its association with the void around which Prigent's poetry gravitates in line with the negative logic of desire, and imaginary excess accounts for the role of the fantasized body and the constant interplay of body parts in the context of a poetic strategy that seeks to foreground the physical site of verbal emission. The notion of sceptical Cratylism is introduced to round out the analysis, specifically by demonstrating how Prigent, in presenting his version of verbal embodiment, avoids reducing the body to either the rule of representation or the idea of nature.
Balzac, L'invention de la sociologie ed. by Andrea Del Lungo and Pierre Glaudes (review)
L'École de la maladresse: de J.-J. Rousseau à J. J. Grandville by Pauline de Tholozany (review)
Marina van Zuylen
World War II in Andreï Makine's Historiographic Metafiction: "No One is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgotten" by Helena Duffy (review)
Impostors. Literary Hoaxes and Cultural Authenticity by Christopher L. Miller (review)