1985 : Claude Simon

1985 : Claude Simon

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“who in his novel combines the poet’s and the painter’s creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition”



October 10, 1913

Place of birth


Antananarivo, Madagascar



July 6, 2005

Place of death


Paris, France







Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1985


Claude Simon was born on October 10, 1913 in Antananarivo, on the island of Madagascar on the east coast of Africa, which by then was a French colony. A year later, his father, Army officer, was killed in World War I and Claude was installed with her mother in Perpignan in southeast France (near the Spanish border), where her grandmother resided. At the end of high school at College Stanislas in Paris and after some brief stays academic at Oxford and Cambridge, he studied painting at the Academy of the cubist master Andre Lhota and also at Oxford and Cambridge. He traveled to Spain, Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy and Greece. This experience as well as that of World War II will play a major role in his literary work. In 1936 he traveled to Barcelona and fought in the Civil War on the side of the republic. The experience of this war would inspire some of his best books such as Le Palace (Palace, 1962) or Le jardin des plants in 1997. When the Second World War, he participated in the Battle of the Meuse (1940), but was arrested by the Germans who sent him to a prison camp in Saxony. In a move to a prison camp in France, managed to escape and joined the French Resistance movement. Took refuge in the southeastern French, then free zone, where he bought a property in Salses near Perpignan and became a producer lover of painting and photography, before engaging in the writing. His first work as a writer, Le Tricheur (The Cheater) was published in 1946 and a year later La Corde Raid (The tightrope), but it was in 1960 when it publishes its first literary success, La Route des Flandres (The route Flanders), which is about the French military defeat in 1940, by which they would receive the award from the Nouvelle Vague in 1961. In 1967 he obtained a new award, the French avant-garde Medicis prize for his book Histoire (History, 1967), which has a day in the life of a young man. This work confirmed him as the perpetrator of prestige and minority, a consideration that will not change until obtaining the Nobel. Along with Robbe-Grillet and Nathalie Sarraute as other writers, Robert Pinget, Samuel Beckett, Jean Claude Ollier Ricardou and was part of the nouveau roman literary group emerged in France in 1950, which was also briefly a member Michel Butor and Marguerite Duras. In 1981 come to light Les Georgiques (The georgica, 1981) where in three seasons and at different periods of agitation and violence-the French Revolution, the Spanish Civil War and World War II-three characters live events and experiences that seem to overlap . In this book the author returns to reflect their experience in the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. To grant him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1985, the Swedish Academy cited this novel as perhaps his most important work. In 1989 published L’Acacia (Acacia), a highly autobiographical novel and is recognized as a masterpiece of anti-war literature. This book describes the journey with his mother and aunt through the devastated France in 1918 in search of the grave of his father. The University of East Anglia did honororifico doctor in 1973. In recent years, he lived retired success, alternately in the south of France (in French Catalonia) and incognito in Paris, near the botanical garden which gave way to one of his novels Le jardin des plantes (1997). In 2001, with 88 years, he published his last novel Le tramway (tram), an autobiography with memories of his childhood and old age in which he describes himself as an author “difficult, boring, unreadable, confusing” .. He died on July 6 2005 to 91 years of age. The French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who expressed his “deepest sorrow” over the death of Simon, said in his statement “The French literature has lost one of its great authors.”


Works in French:

  • Le Tricheur – Paris : Sagittaire, 1945

  • La Corde raide – Paris : Minuit, 1947

  • Gulliver – Paris : Calmann-Levy, 1952

  • Le Sacre du printemps – Paris : Calmann-Levy, 1954

  • Le Vent: tentative de restitution d’un retable baroque – Paris : Minuit, 1957

  • L’herbe – Paris : Minuit, 1958

  • La Route des Flandres – Paris : Minuit, 1960

  • Le Palace – Paris : Minuit, 1962

  • Histoire – Paris : Minuit, 1967

  • La bataille de Pharsale – Paris : Minuit, 1969

  • Orion aveugle – Geneva : Skira, 1970

  • Les Corps conducteurs – Paris : Minuit, 1971

  • Triptyque – Paris : Minuit, 1973

  • Lecon de choses – Paris : Minuit, 1975

  • Les Georgiques – Paris : Minuit, 1981

  • La Chevelure de Berenice – Paris : Minuit, 1962

  • Discours de Stockholm – Paris : Minuit, 1986

  • L’invitation – Paris : Minuit, 1987

  • L’Acacia – Paris : Minuit, 1989

  • Le jardin des plantes – Paris : Minuit, 1997

  • Le tramway – Paris : Minuit, 2001

  • uvres – Paris : Gallimard, 2006 – (Bibliotheque de la Pleiade)

Translations into English:

  • The Wind / translated by Richard Howard – New York : Braziller, 1959

  • The Grass / translated by Richard Howard – New York : Braziller 1960

  • The Flanders Road / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : Braziller, 1961

  • The Palace / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : Braziller, 1963

  • Histoire / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : Braziller, 1968

  • The Battle of Pharsalus / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : Braziller, 1971

  • Conducting Bodies / translated from the French by Helen R. Lane – New York, Viking Press, 1974

  • Triptych / translated from the French by Helen R. Lane – New York : Viking Press, 1976

  • The World About Us / translated from the French by Daniel Weissbort – Princeton, N.J. : Ontario Review Press, 1983

  • The Georgics / translated by Beryl and John Fletcher – New York : Riverrun Press, 1989

  • The Acacia / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : Pantheon Books, 1990

  • The Invitation / translated by Jim Cross – Elmwood Park, IL : Dalkey Archive Press, 1991

  • The Jardin des Plantes / translated from the French and with an introduction by Jordan Stump – Evanston, Ill. : Northwestern University Press, 2001

  • The Trolley / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : New Press, 2002


  • Fletcher, John, Claude Simon and Fiction Now – London : Calder & Boyars, 1975

  • Loubere, J.A.E, The Novels of Claude Simon – Ithaca : Cornell U.P., 1975

  • Sykes, Stuart., Les romans de Claude Simon – Paris : Minuit, 1979

  • Neumann, Guy A., Echos et correspondances dans Triptyque et Lecon de choses de Claude Simon – Lausanne : L’Age d’Homme, cop. 1983

  • Claude Simon : New Directions : Collected Papers / edited by Alastair B. Duncan – Edinburgh : Scottish Academic Press, cop. 1985

  • Britton, Celia M., Claude Simon : Writing the Visible – Cambridge :Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987

  • Dallenbach, Lucien, Claude Simon – Paris : Seuil, 1988

  • Sarkonak, Ralph, Understanding Claude Simon – Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, cop. 1990

  • Andres, Bernard, Profils du personnage chez Claude Simon – Paris: Minuit, 1992

  • Duncan, Alastair B., Claude Simon : Adventures in Words – Manchester : Manchester University Press, cop. 1994

  • Piegay-Gros, Nathalie, Claude Simon : Les Georgiques – Paris : PUF, 1996

  • Genin, Christine, L’echeveau de la memoire : La route des Flandres de Claude Simon – Paris : Champion, 1997

  • Duffy, Jean H., Reading Between the Lines : Claude Simon and the Visual Arts. – Liverpool : Liverpool University Press, 1998

  • Claude Simon : A Retrospective / edited by Jean H. Duffy and Alastair Duncan – Liverpool : Liverpool University Press, 2002


1985: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Professor Lars Gyllensten, of the Swedish Academy.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Claude Simon began to be noticed in earnest at the end of the 1950s in connection with the great interest in the so-called “new novel” in France. The new writers were against the more conventional fiction and broke its rules that a novel should have a realistic story and move along in a lucid and coherent way in time. Their prose works had the appearance of linguistic montages or collages. They took place in the dimensions of memory and the apparently arbitrary or free association. Fragments from different times were closely joined on the basis of their content or emotional correspondences, but not on the basis of how they might have followed each other in the ordinary course of time. Influences from the visual arts were strongly in evidence. In a picture everything is contemporaneous. The flow of things that follow each other is brought about by the beholder’s co-creative feeling moving over what actually exists as a single coherent now.

Claude Simon had begun with several partly autobiographical novels from the middle of the 1940s. The narrative method was almost traditional, but influenced by Faulkner. The change in Simon’s author-character came with the novels Le Vent, 1957, and L’Herbe, 1958. He himself counts the latter as the turning point in his writing. Both stories take place in the South of France, where Simon himself has his roots and lives as a viticulturist. The principal character in Le Vent is a mysteriously complex man, at once confused and discerning, exposed to the inquisitive provocations of his fellow men. He returns to the small town in the South of France to take over a bequest, a farm – and is caught up in conflicts of various kinds. And over it all howls the keen mistral, the wind that fills the people with its everlasting, parching, dusty indefatigability – an inhuman element in which the people live as if, despite their activities and meddling, they are imprisoned in conditions which are more lasting and more powerful than themselves. In both these novels the author weaves a close and evocative web of words, of events and environments, with glidings and joins of elements according to a logic different from what the realistic continuity in time and space prescribes. Here we perceive how Claude Simon’s linguistic art takes shape, such as we shall recognize his prose in later works. The language begins to live its own life. Each word and description leads on to the next. The text grows as if the language were an independently living organism which buds, puts out tendrils and sows seeds of its own accord and as if the author were a tool or a medium for its own creative force.

So too has Claude Simon himself described his way of working especially after his experiences when writing the book Histoire, 1967 – nothing short of a rapturous awareness of the sensual life and charm in giving oneself up to linguistic work and its surprises and seductions. The book is one of the peaks in Simon’s writing, perhaps the work in which his linguistic peculiarity is most clearly evident.

It was preceded by two other novels, in which we can find some of the basic themes that constantly recur in Claude Simon’s novels La Route des Flandres, 1960, and Le Palace, 1962. The first of these two novels made Simon’s name international. It is a broad and complex description with strongly autobiographical touches and with memories and traditions from Simon’s family. The profusely flowing narration, its fragmentations and piling up of parallel actions and its discontinuous joining of scenes and of stories within stories burst the framework for narrative art in the traditional sense. The novel takes the shape of a penetrating description of the French collapse in 1940, when Simon himself took part as a cavalryman. Simon’s experiences during this war, like during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, have been of immense importance to him, constantly recurring in his writings. Cruelty and absurdity are the dominating things – unforeseeable. What is apparently well-planned ends in confusion and dissolution. Each one lives through his hardships and has to save himself as best he can. Simon’s experiences from the Spanish Civil War were similar, depicted in Le Palace and his latest and most important novel, Les Georgiques, 1981. For all the sympathies which he and others might have for those faithful to the government who fought against the fascists, it soon turned out that these government champions for their part could not follow any regular and intelligently planned strategies and operations. On the contrary, the fighters were split into factions and mutual strife, obstructions and hazardous enterprises. Simon’s picture of the Spanish Civil War and of the intellectual idealists who wanted to find an ideologically clear reason in the fight against oppression, shapes itself into a version, at once grotesque and tragic, compassionate and ironic, of war’s reality and of man’s inability to guide his fate and correct his conditions. La Route des Flandres and Les Georgiques are richly decorated compositions which, with sensuous perspicacity and linguistic invocation, conjure up an extremely complicated pattern of personal memories and family traditions, of experiences during modern war and of equivalents from bygone ages, to be exact the Napoleonic era. The parallels are the same. The violence and the absurdity are common to all, likewise the painful compassion and feeling that the author expresses in paradoxical contrast to the fascination that these phenomena obviously have for him. A similar feeling is characteristic of Simon’s descriptions of erotic relationships. In these contexts too there is a fixation with violence and violation. The sexual contacts appear as conquests, the taking in possession, mountings which resemble what stallions and mares do, or outrages resembling what occurs in battle. A tragic feeling of life emerges also here – a picture of human loneliness and of how people are exposed to destructive passions and selfish impulses, disguised as vain striving for fellowship and intimacy.

Against these descriptions are contrasting elements of another kind – of tenderness and loyalty, or devotion to work and duty, to heritage and traditions and solidarity with dead and living kinsmen. In particular there appears as a contrast of a consoling or edifying kind the devotion to such as grows and sprouts independent of man’s lust for power and overweening enterprise. There is a growth which lives by its own power, despite what men can do. The best people in Simon’s novels are those who subordinate themselves to this growth and serve it. We meet some old women, loyal to farm and family and traditions. We even meet in the brutal and at last disillusioned warrior a loyal love for his dead young wife. We meet a serving and a patient endurance which, without any self-important airs, is reflected within these people, which lives with them even if otherwise in their ostentatious deeds and ways they seem filled with egoism and brutality.

First and foremost we meet this growth, this vitality and this creativeness and this viability in language and memory, in the shaping, the renewal and the development of what is and was and what rises again inspired and alive through the pictures in words and story for which we seem to be more instruments than masters. Claude Simon’s narrative art may appear as a representation of something that lives within us whether we will or not, whether we understand it or not, whether we believe it or not – something hopeful, in spite of all cruelty and absurdity which for that matter seem to characterize our condition and which is so perceptively, penetratingly and abundantly reproduced in his novels.

Monsieur Claude Simon,

Pour caracteriser vos romans, on devrait pouvoir faire ?uvre a la fois de peintre et de poete. En ce peu de temps qui m’etait imparti, j’ai ete force de me contenter d’autre chose: un compte-rendu assez abstrait et sommaire. Si j’ai pourtant reussi a exprimer tant bien que mal la haute estime que vos ?uvres peuvent susciter chez un lecteur, je me declarerai satisfait.

Sur ces mots, je vous prie, au nom de l’Academie Suedoise, de bien vouloir accepter l’expression de notre admiration et de nos felicitations les plus cordiales.

Enfin je vous invite a recevoir de la main de Sa Majeste le Roi le Prix Nobel de litterature de cette annee.

Nobel Lecture:

9 December 1985

Ladies and Gentlemen, Of the feelings that may have a winner distinguished by the Swedish Academy, one of my fellow Nobel, “as we called Dr. Andre Lwoff in a letter he was kind enough to speak was can not be better explained: “Research is a game,” he wrote in his thanks, it does not matter, in theory at least, you win or you lose. But scientists (and I would also say writers), “scholars, therefore, have some traits of children. As they like them and win them as they like to be rewarded; what Andre Lwoff added: “In the depths of himself, any scientist (any writer, I still say)” wants to be recognized. ” And if I try to analyze the various components of satisfaction in some ways childish, I would say that it combines a certain pride that beyond my individual attention is thus drawn to the country for better or for worse is mine and it is not bad as we know that, despite the worst, there is a stubborn protest, denigrated, mocked, persecuted and sometimes even hypocritically, a certain life of the mind Which, in itself, without purpose or reason other than being, is still the country a place where survivors, the inertia of indifference or even hostility to the various powers, some of the most threatened today. I would then, addressing the members of your Academy, telling them that if I turn to them to know how I am sensitive to the choice they have done and thank them for it is not only for a ritual sacrifice or submit myself to use a simple courtesy. It is no coincidence indeed seems to be whether this institution headquarters and deliberate in Sweden, specifically in Stockholm, ie near the geographical center or, if the we prefer, at the crossroads of the four nations that make up this small Scandinavia by the number of its inhabitants, but its culture, traditions, his civility, his appetite for knowledge and its laws, so large it comes to form edge of the world iron and violence which we live as a sort of privileged island and exemplary. It is thus no coincidence that the translations in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish from my latest book, The Georgics, were the first to appear, and it is not by chance that on the shelves of the library -to stationery lost a small hamlet in the middle of forests and lakes could already last winter to find another translation, this time in Finnish, while (to speak only of one monstrous giant we crush their gravity), while announcing the award of the Nobel, the New York Times asked in vain American critics and the media in my country were running feverishly to find information on the author virtually unknown, the press widely published, in the absence of critical reviews of my books, the most fanciful new on my activities as a writer or my life – when this was not to regret your decision as a national disaster for France. Of course, I am not presumptuous enough nor well enough to fool not to know that in the fields of art or literature is questionable choices and to some extent arbitrary, and I am the first to think that here and there in the world and in France, as well as me and maybe more, several other writers to whom I have great respect had been appointed. If I mentioned the sometimes shocked amazed that the mainstream press has echoed (sometimes even frightened: a French weekly mass circulation questioned whether the Soviet KGB had not noyaute your Academy!) I would not want one may think that I have done in a spirit of petty triumph or ridicule easy, but because these protests, this outrage, this terror, have been formulated in terms that illustrate on can better the problems in the field of literature and art between the conservative forces other than those I would not call “progress” (this word has, in art, no sense) but movement , Putting even in light of the divorce becoming more pronounced and which was so talked about living between art and the public fearfully maintained in a state of backwardness by the powers of any order which the largest terror is the change . Let us leave aside the objections that have been made to be a writer “difficult”, “boring”, “illegible” or “confusing” in recalling that just the same accusations were made against any disruption of an artist slightly acquired habits and the established order, and admire the grandchildren of those who saw in the Impressionist paintings that information (that is to say unreadable) daubings now stationed in endless files waiting to go “admire” (?) in museums or exhibits the works of these barbouilleurs. Also leave aside the suggestion that some officials of a political police could sit here and tell you your choice, whatever-that, in passing, it is not without interest to note that even in some environments, the Soviet Union remains a symbol of formidable forces of destabilization which it is my faith flattering for a single writer to be involved because it was so finally, here and there, denounced the selfish and vain free what we call “art for art ‘that is not easy for me to see my reward writings, which had no ambition to rise to this level, placed among the instruments of a revolutionary and destabilizing. What seems more interesting to take into account and deserve, I believe, be addressed, other judgments made in respect of my work which by its nature and vocabulary they use, highlight not a misunderstanding that may exist between the proponents of a certain tradition and what I would call literature alive, but what appears to be a real reversal (or, if preferred, reverse) situation, because each of the terms used in a pejorative sense is, in fact, very wisely, with the difference that unlike the intentions of critical it is for me to have a positive value. I will return to the criticism of my novels for having “no beginning or end”, which in a sense, is quite true, but right now I like to remember two adjectives regarded as humiliation, naturally or , One might say, a corollary associates, and immediately show where the problem lies: it is those who denounce in my books the product of a “painstaking”, and therefore necessarily “artificial”. The dictionary gives this last word the following definition: “Done with art,” and again: “Who is the product of human activity and not of nature”, if relevant definition that could be satisfied if, paradoxically, the connotations related, commonly entrusted with a pejorative sense, is revealed to also review the most instructive – as if, as the dictionary says, “artificial” was also something of bogus, manufactured, fake, imitated, invented hairpiece “, he comes to mind as art, inventions par excellence, also dummy (from Latin facere,” how “) and therefore manufactured ( word which should restore all its nobility) is perfect imitation (which postulates obviously false). But it would still be required to specify the nature of this imitation, because art s’autogenere so to speak by imitation of himself: as well as this is not the desire to reproduce the kind that makes the painter but fascination of the museum, as is the desire to write sparked by the fascination of something written that is the writer, nature simply for its part, as Oscar Wilde said Spiritually, to “imitate art” … And it is a language that craftsmen for centuries before, during and after the Renaissance, hold the greatest writers or musicians, sometimes treated as servants, working on command and talking about their work (I think Johann Sebastian Bach, Nicolas Poussin to …) and works very painstakingly and very conscientiously executed. How then to explain that a certain critical concepts of hard work, have fallen into such disrepute that say a writer he has difficulty writing seems the height of mockery? Perhaps it is not wrong to dwell on this issue, which leads to much broader horizons than just movements mood. “A use or value of any Article,” wrote Marx in the first chapter of Capital, “has any value unless that human labor is embodied in him. “This is certainly the laborious departure of any value. Although I am neither a philosopher nor a sociologist, it seems troubling that was during the nineteenth century, alongside the development of mechanization and a ferocious industrialization, we shall, as well as the rise a certain bad conscience, to devaluations of the concept of work (this work of transformation so badly paid): The writer is then deprived of the benefit of its efforts to what some have called the “inspiration” which makes him a mere intermediary, the spokesman which will serve no one knows what supernatural power, so than domestic or appointed conscientious craftsman, the writer now sees himself simply denied it is at most a copyist, or translator of a book already written somewhere, a kind of machine to decode and deliver clear messages that are dictated from a mysterious beyond. We see the strategy, both elitist and Annihilation: honored in this role Pythie drunk or oracle to be precisely nothing, however, the writer belongs to a caste of elected among which no one can expect to be admitted by his or her work deserves. On the contrary, it, like for members of the nobility, is seen as shameful, degrading. The term that will be used to judge a work will be of course a religious term, the “grace”, that this grace, as everyone knows, no virtue, no asceticism same can not acquire. Custodian or keeper favored by the effect of this grace of knowledge ( “What did you say?” Asked Sartre – in other words: “What do you know?”), Depositary therefore even before write a knowledge denied to ordinary mortals, the writer is assigned the mission to instruct, and the novel will naturally take the form under which graphically is issued religious education, as the parable of the fable. If the person of the writer is abolished (it should “disappear” behind her characters), his work is also, and the product of it, writing itself: “The best styles is the one who does not comment “, it usually write recalling the famous formula that a novel is that” a mirror walked along a path: a flat surface, united, no rough edges, nothing else, behind a thin metal plate, that these images he refers variously to one after the other, objectively – in other words, “the world as if I was not is to say, “according to the formula defining Baudelaire ironically the” realism “. “By awarding the Nobel Claude Simon, it was the noise to confirm that the novel was definitely dead?” Asks a critic. It does not seem to have realized that yet, if “novel” it means the literary model that flourished during the nineteenth century, it is indeed dead, despite the fact that in libraries stations or elsewhere continues and will continue much longer, sell and buy thousands of kind or terrifying tales of adventure to conclusions optimistic or desperate, and titles revealed truths of advertisers such as the human condition, L ‘The paths or hope of freedom …

What seems more interesting is that, if at the beginning of this century these two giants as Proust and Joyce were opened to all other channels, they have only sanction a slow evolution during which the said realistic novel itself, slowly, to death. “I tried,” wrote Marcel Proust, “to find beauty where I did never figured it was: in the most usual, deep in the still lifes. And for its part, in an article published in Leningrad in 1927 and entitled “The changing literary”, the Russian Tynianov essayist wrote: “Basically, the description of nature in ancient novels, we would sought the views of a certain literary system, reduced to a supporting role welding or slower (and thus reject almost) should, from the perspective of another literary system, be considered as an element principal, because it can happen that the fable is that motivation, a pretext to accumulate static descriptions. The text, which in some respects seems prophetic, calls me it seems, in some remarks. First, note that according to the dictionary, the first meaning of the word “fable” is: “Small story which shoots morality. “An objection comes immediately to mind is that in fact the true process of manufacture of the tale takes place exactly the reverse of this pattern on the contrary it is the story which is based on morality. For the fabulist, there is first a moral – “The reason of the strongest is always the best” or “Any flattering lives at the expense of those who listen” – and then only history he imagined a As vivid demonstration to illustrate the maxim, precept or thesis that the author seeks by this means to make them more striking. It is this tradition in France, through the fabliaux the Middle Ages, the fabulous and the so-called comedy of manners or character of the seventeenth century, then the philosophical eighteenth led to the novel supposedly “realistic” nineteenth Under aspiring to a teaching: “You and some beautiful souls, as beautiful as yours,” Balzac wrote, “will include my thoughts by reading The house Nucingen attached to Caesar Birotteau. In contrast, is there not a social teaching? ” Boldly innovative in its day (this qu’oublient which focused its epigones, a century and a half later, the offer as an example), supported by a “passion for writing and a certain hubris that increasing beyond his intentions, the novel balzacien then degenerated to create works that would have retained the spirit purely demonstrative. And of course, in such a context, any description is not only superfluous but, as highlighted Tynianov, unwelcome, it comes to graft a parasite on the action, interrupted its course, only delays the time when the reader will finally discover the meaning of history: “When I arrive in a novel to a description, I jump page,” said Henri de Montherlant and, in the Second Surrealist Manifesto, Andre Breton (as opposed any yet to Montherlant), stating that he was dying of boredom in the room description of Raskolnikov, exclaimed with fury: “What right does the author downloading he’s postcards?” … * * * * Types social or psychological “in situation”, simplified to the point of caricature (at least to some French tradition, “Scrooge is qu’avare” Strindberg remarked in his preface to Miss Julie. “There have been at the same time Edile be an excellent, excellent father or anything else, no, it is qu’avare! “), the traditional characters of the novel are drawn into a series of adventures, from chain reactions by successive alleged implacable mechanism of cause and effect that gradually led to this outcome has been called the “logical culmination of the novel,” demonstrating the merits of the argument by the author and express*ing what his readers must think of men, women, society and history … The trouble is that these so-called determined and determinants are dependent on the goodwill of those who appreciate and tells which such or such characters meet (or fail), love (or hate ), Die (or survive), and if these events are of course possible, they might as well not happen. As Conrad points out in his preface to the Negro Narcisse, the author uses only our credulity because, as regards the “logic” of characters like situations, we could talk without end: while Harry Martineau, a prominent stendhalien, assures us that Julien Sorel is predestined from the beginning of the novel The red and black to make the fatal blow pistol on Madame de Renal, Emile Faguet him, this outcome is “more wrong that no goes “… It is perhaps one of the reasons for the paradoxical phenomenon which, at the same time it arises, the realistic novel is already beginning to work towards its own destruction. Everything seemed to happen as if recognizing the faitblesse process they use to get their message didactic (entire process based on a principle of causality), these authors had confused felt the need to make their fables more convincing, to give them a thick material. Until then, in the novel or philosophical, whether Princess of Cleves, Candide, Dangerous Liaisons, or even New written by Heloise this lover of nature that was Rousseau, the description is virtually non-existent and appears only in the form of an unchanging stereotypes: all beautiful women invariably have a complexion “of lilies and pink, they are” made to turn “, the old are” ugly “, the shade” expense ” deserts “ugly” and so on … With Balzac (and this is perhaps his genius lies), we are seeing long and detailed descriptions of places or characters, descriptions in this century will be not only more numerous but, instead to be confined at the beginning of the story or the appearance of the characters, will split, to mix with doses more or less massive narrative of the action, to the point at the end they will play the role of a sort of Trojan horse and simply expel the fable to which they were supposed to give if the tragic death of Julien Sorel on the ECHA-Faud, that of Emma Bovary poisoned with arsenic or that of Anna Karenina is laying under a train may appear as the logical culmination of their adventures and make a moral, not, however, can be drawn from that of Albertine Proust that makes (one might be tempted to say: “it is rid “) by a banal accident horse … * * * *It would seems to be an interesting parallel to draw between changes that occurred in the novel during the nineteenth century and the painting began much earlier: “The end (the goal ) Of Christian art, “wrote Ernest Gombrich,” is to give the sacred character and especially to the History holy place convincing and moving in the eyes of the beholder. ” Designed initially for the Byzantines, as a building and used for educational purposes, “the event is told with hieroglyphics clear and simple will understand rather than see.” A tree, a mountain stream, rocks are marked by “signs” pictorial. “However, little by little, a new requirement arises, which is to ensure that the viewer becomes so witness the event (…) which is supposed to be the object of meditation” And there gradually to the advent of naturalism, which Giotto is a leading craftsmen, continuing its evolution course until we say Gombrich, “the naturalistic landscape backgrounds, designed previously there as conceptions of medieval art illustrating proverbs and inculcating moral lessons, this landscape that filled places devoid of characters and actions (…), as it devours in the sixteenth century the first shots, until that the goal is reached with specialists as Joachim Patinir, so that the painter creates derives its relevance, rather than any association with an important subject, but because it reflects, like music, the even harmony of the universe. “. * * * *Thus, following a slow evolution, the function of the painter was somehow reversed and knowledge or, if preferred, meaning, moved from side to side of its action , In the preceding first time, raising to at the end result of this action itself, which will not express meaning but producing. And even he was literature, so it seems aujord’hui legitimate claim for the novel (or require) a credible, more reliable than the always questionable, we may assigned to a fiction, a credibility that is conferred to the text by the relevance of the relationship between its components, including the order of succession and the arrangement no longer a causal outside the literary fact, as the causal order Psychosocial which is the rule in the novel says traditional realistic, but a causal interior, in that event, described and reported either precede or follow another because of their own qualities. If I can not give credit to this deus ex machina that is too timely to meet or miss the characters in a story, but it seems quite credible, because in the sensitive things, that Proust is suddenly transported from the hotel courtyard of Guermantes on the steps of St. Mark’s in Venice by the sensation of two uneven paving stones under his feet, credible that Molly Bloom is entarinee in erotic dreams by mention of the juicy fruit it proposes to buy the overnight market, credible that the unfortunate Benjy Faulkner screams of pain when he hears golfers shouting the word “shopping cart” and all this because between these things, these reminiscences, these sensations, there is an obvious common qualities, that a certain harmony in these examples is that of associations, assonances, but can also result, as painting or music, contrasts, d ‘objections or dissonance. * * * *And when we begin to glimpse a famous response to questions: “Why do you write? What did you say? ” “If (…) we wonder,” wrote Paul Valery, “if there are concerns (as it happens, and sometimes quite strongly) that I wanted to say (…) , I reply that I did not want to say but wanted to do and that is the intention to who wanted what I said. “I could answer the words point by point: if the range of motivations of the writer is wide open, the need to be recognized spoken Andre Lwoff was perhaps not the most trivial, because it requires first to be recognized by itself, which implies a “do” (I do – I produce – therefore I am), whether to build a bridge, ship, “do” next harvest or to compose a quartet. And if it is confined to the field of writing, should remember that “doing” in Greek expresses Text in Greek, which is the origin of mol poem on the nature of which should be even if question may be, because if there is some freedom to concede to what is called in popular language poet, why the prose is the he would refuse, and to assign otherwise the only mission of apologue storyteller, in defiance of all other considerations on the nature of this language which is supposed to serve as a simple vehicle? Is this not forget that, as Whitman said, “whenever there is stress on style, versification there,” forget the question posed by Flaubert in a letter to George Sand: “How is it there is a report required between the right word and the word musical? ” * * * *I am now an old man, and as many people in our old Europe, the first part of my life has been pretty hectic: I have witnessed a revolution, I made the war in conditions killer (I belonged to one of these regiments that the staffs sacrifice coldly in advance and which, in eight days, there is virtually nothing left), I was captured, I knew hunger, physical work until exhaustion, I escaped, I was seriously ill several times on the verge of death, violent or natural, I knew the people most diverse, both priests as incendiary churches, peaceable burghers that anarchists, philosophers and illiterate, I shared my bread with crooks, and I traveled around the world … cependent and I have never, to sixty-two years, discovered no sense at all, except as said, I think, Barthes after Shakespeare, that “if the world mean something, is that it does not mean anything “- except it is. As we see, I have nothing to say, the meaning of the term Sartre. Besides, if I had been revealed some important truth in the social, historical or sacred, it seemed m’eut at least burlesque to resort to expose a fiction invented Instead of a rational philosophy, sociology or theology. What “do”, therefore, the words by Valery which immediately raises the question: what to do with? Well, when I find myself in front of my blank page, I am faced with two things: the trouble magma emotions, memories, images that is in me, second language, words that I will try to say, the syntax in which they will be ordered and in which they will somehow crystallize. And immediately, a first observation is that you write (or does) something that never happened before work to write, but what happens (and this in every sense) during this work, present it, and the result, not of conflict between the original draft vague and language, but rather of a symbiosis between the two that makes the at least me, that the result is infinitely richer than intended. This phenomenon of this writing, Stendhal, in fact, the experience begins when, in The Life of Henry Brulard, to tell his passing Col du Grand St. Bernard with the army of Italy. While trying to make the story more truthfully, he said, he suddenly realizes that it is perhaps now describe an engraving representing this event, he saw burning since and who, he writes, “took (him) instead of reality.” Had he pushed her further reflection, he would have realized – because it is easy to imagine the number of things represented on this engraving: guns, trucks, soldiers, horses, glaciers, rocks, etc.., Whose only list would fill several pages, while the story of Stendhal occupies just one – it would have realized, therefore, does not even described this print but an image that is formed then took him and still instead of burning it was described. More or less consciously, as a result of imperfections and its perception of its memory, the writer selects subjectively chosen, removes, but also values between a hundred miles or some elements of a show: we are very far from impartial walked the mirror along a path which claimed that Stendhal … And it was a fracture, a radical change in the history of art is when painters, soon followed by writers have ceased to claim to represent the visible world but only the impressions that they received. “A healthy man,” wrote Tolstoy, “commonly think, feel and remembers countless things at once. “This is to bring these phrases Flaubert, about Emma Bovary:” Everything that was in her memories, images, combinations escaped at once, in one fell swoop , As the thousand pieces of fireworks. She saw clearly and tables seconded by his father, Leon, the firm Lheureux, their rooms there, another landscape, figures unknown. ” If Flaubert speaks of a woman patient suffering from a kind of delirium, Tolstoy, it goes further and generalizes when he says: “a man in good health.” They agree that all these memories, all these emotions and all these thoughts come at a time, at once, but Flaubert states that he is of tables posted in Other terms of fragments, and that aspect under which they come to us is that of “combinations”. We see now where the fishing shy Tynianov proposal which, if deemed beyond the traditional novel, not able to design for the future a novel where the fable is only a pretext for “accumulation” of descriptions “Static”. Because it is the lies one of the paradoxes of writing: a description of what might be called an “inner landscape” apparently static, and whose main characteristic is that nothing is close or distant proves itself not static but rather dynamic forced by the linear configuration of the language to list one after the other components of the landscape (which already carry out a preferential option to recovery subjective some of them compared to others), the writer, once it starts to draw a word on paper, as key to a prodigious Overall, this prodigious network of reports and in that language which, as I said, “spoke before us through what is called his” figures “, ie tropes, the metonymy and metaphors none the result of chance but on the contrary constituent part of the knowledge of the world and things gradually acquired by man. And if, following Chlovski, it is to define the “literary fact” as “the transfer of an object from its usual perception in the sphere of new perception”, the writer how he would seek to identify mechanisms who join him in this “untold numbers” of “Tables” apparently “detached” which is as sentient beings, if not the language that constitutes as being and thinking and speaking in which , In his wisdom and logic, we have already proposed numerous transfers or transportation of meaning? The words, according to Lacan, are not only “signs” but knots of meaning or, as I wrote in my short preface to Orion blind intersections of meaning, so that already the only language vocabulary offers possibility of “combinations” to “innumerable”, thanks to what this “adventure story” that is committed to its peril writer finally seems more reliable than these stories more or less arbitrary than the offers Roman naturalist with insurance all the more imperative that he knows how fragile and highly questionable value of its resources. No more show then, but show no longer reproduce but produce, but not express discover. Like painting, the novel does not propose to take advantage of some relevance association with an important subject, but because it strives to reflect, like music, a certain harmony. Posing the question “What is’ realism ‘?”, Roman Jakobson notes that it was customary to try realism of a novel not referring to the “reality” itself (a single object aspects miles) but at a literary genre that developed in the last century. It overlooks the fact that the characters in these stories have no other reality than writing that establishes how this writing so she could “disappear” behind a story and events that exist only by it? In fact, as well as painting when pretext for taking such scene biblical or mythological history (which can seriously believe in the “reality” of such Crucifixion, so Suzanne bath or as Rape of the Sabine?), This that writing tells us, even in the most naturalistic novelists, is its own adventure and its own spell. If this adventure is zero, if these spells are not, then a novel, whatever may be, moreover, its didactic or legal claims, is void as well. * * * *We talk here and there willingly, and with authority, function and duties of the writer. It has even been declared a few years ago, not without demagoguery, by a formula that carries its own contradicted that, “in the face of death of a small child in Biafra, no book does weight “. If precisely, unlike that of a monkey, this death is an unsupportable scandal because this child is a human child ie a being endowed with a spirit of ‘consciousness, even embryonic, likely later, he survived, thinking and talking about his suffering, read those of others, to be moved in turn and, with luck, of the write. At the end of the Enlightenment, and before that did forge the myth of “realism”, Novalis stated with astonishing clarity this apparent paradox that “it is the language of mathematical formulas as they are a world unto itself, for alone, playing them exclusively, do nothing if not their own wonderful nature, which precisely because they are so expressive that they precisely reflect the game of strange relationships between things. ” It is in search of this game that we could perhaps develop a commitment to writing that, whenever it changes a little bit of the report and its language man has with the world contributes in its small way to change it. The path will, surprisingly, very different from that of the novelist who, from a “beginning”, arrived at an “end”. The other, paved with great difficulty by an explorer in an unknown (getting lost, returning on his steps, guided – or wrong – the likeness of some yet different places or, conversely, the various aspects of the same applicable), the other overlaps frequently returns by hubs already crossed, and it may even (this is the most logical) at the end of that investigation in these images and emotions none further or closer than the other (because the words have this prodigious power to reconcile and to confront what would otherwise remain scattered in time clocks and measurable space), it can happen that one or back to the baseline, only richer for having indicated some directions, threw some bridges may be reached by the deepening of the individual and hard without any claim to have said, this “common fund” where everyone can recognize a few – or many – of himself. So can there be other words that the exhaustion of the passenger inexhaustible exploring this landscape, contemplating the map approximate it has established and only half reassured to have obeyed his best in his way some elk Some impulses. Nothing is safer or offered other guarantees than those Flaubert spoke after Novalis: harmony, music. At its research, the writer is progressing laboriously, groping blindly, engages in deadlocks, bogged down, again – and, if at all costs learn from its approach, we say that we are still on quicksand. Thank you for your attention.


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