Jan 23, Vincent Marger rated it it was amazing.
Chef d'oeuvre. Great saga, except for the seventh book, I almost didn't finish it. Seguramente George R. Excelentes libros. Nov 26, Sophie Boudreau rated it it was amazing. Nov 06, Axel rated it liked it. Oct 21, Sophie rated it liked it. C'est bien mais long Apr 29, Ayman Kuzbari rated it really liked it. Because I can't rate it 3. On the whole, I found it to be a very good historical novel series that taught me a lot about this fascinating period as well as moved and thrilled me.
Set over a period of 29 years from to , the story focuses primarily on the rivalry and clash between Robert d'Artois undoubtedly the series' main protagonist and his aunt Mahaut over the disputed county of Artois, which contributed to the outbreak of the Hundred Years' Because I can't rate it 3. Set over a period of 29 years from to , the story focuses primarily on the rivalry and clash between Robert d'Artois undoubtedly the series' main protagonist and his aunt Mahaut over the disputed county of Artois, which contributed to the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War.
The power struggle between these two ruthless and relentless kin would impact the fate of kings, dynasties, and nations. The political intrigue that is abundant in this critical juncture of both French and English history is expertly described, explained, and portrayed. Maurice Druon quite astutely always made sure to point out the underlying trends and dynamics behind each political rivalry, underlining the clash between legalists and traditionalists, reformists and reactionaries, as crucial in understanding these power clashes.
Admittedly however, some characters did not captivate me nearly as much. I am thinking primarily of Guccio and Marie, whose romantic subplot was in my humble opinion not so intriguing. Although I enjoy the series as a whole, I also feel like the last 3 novels were not as good as the first 4. As is seemingly universally agreed upon, the last novel "Quand un Roi perd la France," was an unnecessary and mediocre addition to what was already a concluded story. Its 2 predecessors "La Louve de France" and "Le Lis et le Lion", while both good, were not as thrilling and captivating as the novels that came before.
Feb 19, Anne Goblet rated it really liked it. Loved the first six ones but the seventh was the one too many. Don't know why Maurice Druon wrote that one. View 1 comment. Feb 26, Paulo Santos rated it really liked it. I always liked historical novels, it's such a pleasant way to learn about the past, especially when they're serious and well researched and are also enjoyable to read. The novels in this cycle of Les Rois Maudits are all this, so they were a most fortunate find.
And one can see, reading these accounts of real events, that series like A Game of Thrones are not that far fetched Already ordered the other 4 books of the series! Another two volumes of the historical series Les Rois Maudits. Thrilli I always liked historical novels, it's such a pleasant way to learn about the past, especially when they're serious and well researched and are also enjoyable to read.
Thrilling and engaging, very much like A Game of Thrones for real, with no need for the supernatural, and much better written. A kind of I, Claudius in the Middle Ages, which is a compliment. These are the two final volumes of the Rois Maudits saga. Le Lis et le Lion finishes the story of the cursed progeny of Philippe le Bel, and Quand un Roi perd la France tells the follow-up, until the battle of Poitiers, one of the lowest points for France in the Hundred Years War. It's a well written historical novel, with plenty of intrigue and infamous characters, a very good read.
Five stars for all the parts GRRM stole; 1 star for Cardinal Perigord and all the dragging, boring parts, and the contrived author-addresses-the-reader bits. I can't believe how long it took me to read this. I don't know how many French synonyms I learned for "rags" and similar words. I took a lot of breaks. And it's not that it's bad; the best threads are riveting -- really, everything around Robert d'Artois is worth the price of admission -- but it's uneven. Book 7 was a mistake, even if it gav Five stars for all the parts GRRM stole; 1 star for Cardinal Perigord and all the dragging, boring parts, and the contrived author-addresses-the-reader bits.
Book 7 was a mistake, even if it gave Druon an opportunity to remind us how unreliable any narrator in historical fiction must be, measured against history itself. It's also too bad we had an abrupt jump at Philip V's reign; up to that point, he's one of the most interesting characters. To Druon's credit, these books made me interested in the history of a place and time of which I was completely ignorant before.
Le lendemain je fais la connaissance du fils de Chuck, Ryan. Chuck fournit le terrain neutre. La situation est tendue. Ryan est nerveux. Ici, on ne lui propose que de nettoyer les chiottes chez McDonald. Le retour est brutal. Il a une bonne expression dans les yeux. Il a le syndrome de stress post-traumatique. Ici, on se bat pour survivre. Seul son enfant le retient ici. Chuck "; document. Je la quitte pour continuer sur Lafayette. Je refuse poliment. Il fait violemment chaud. Mon amie est institutrice. Puis ce poids lourd dont la benne est remplie de vaches, fausses cette fois, mais grandeur nature.
On ne voit pas qui est qui dans les voitures. Le jazz par exemple ne marche pas sur ces paysages. Je suis vraiment ailleurs. Il est du coin, comme toute sa famille. Elle est Irlandaise. Elle me raconte son enfance en Irlande du Nord. Ne pas forcer les choses. Je suis content de quitter les lieux. Elle les vend sous la forme de sandwiches aux oeufs et au jambon.
Tous vivent chez elle. Elle vient de perdre son emploi. Et moi qui pensais que les habitants ne supportaient plus les touristes!! Venez voir le Dr. Le reste est un peu pourri, rude. Pourquoi, dans les quartiers pauvres, les infrastructures ne sont-elles pas mieux entretenues?
On voit des chiens errants. Ils vivent dans la belle partie de la ville, le long du Mississippi. Lui, dans une sorte de lotissement en bord de Mississippi, fait de petites maisons proprettes et toutes pareilles. Chacun cherche sa niche, essaye de faire fructifier son petit business. Dedans, les gens se sont mis sur leur Les hommes ont leurs chapeaux, et des polos impeccables, les femmes leurs talons et des robes sexy. Me dit-elle. Nous buvons abondamment. Ils travaillent dans le marketing. Beaucoup de monde.
Il y est mort. Lui qui craignait sur son lit de mort que les oliviers de la famille, vieux de ans, soient mal entretenus. Ils savent cuisiner et ils jardinent. Social Link Facebook Linked In. We shall see how the present both is marked by these experiences of the recent past and has managed to distance itself from them. We shall also note the importance in France of American poetry and poetics since the thirties, which illustrates both the apparent irreconcilable differences between the French and the Americans and the increasing resemblances that have developed through a systematic series of exchanges and translations.
Although the scope of this project is vast, for practical reasons I concentrate on the twelve writers I have interviewed and translated in the present volume. This group is not only representative of views in contemporary French avant-garde thinking, it is also symptomatic of a quiet revolution now going on in France, characterized by new though unsystematic practices that are coming to substitute for the more rigid poetics of the past.
How simple it would be to consider humanism the continuing identity of the dominant strain in the French philosophicoliterary corpus since the Renaissance! Thus humanism, especially from the end of World War II, became a double-edged sword. It represented the self-serving lay ethics of the imperialist Fourth and Fifth Republics but was increasingly disputed by those Antilleans and Africans who had been educated in French universities and then expeditiously marginalized. Jean-Paul Sartre criticizes its bourgeois doctrines in Nausea He was not alone in his views.
In his caricature of the romantic poet a view shared by the surrealists , Ponge decried this preoccupation with self and shifted his gaze to the material world, especially to those things historically overlooked by poets. Clearly Sartre was not the only disciple of German phenomenology; immediately after the war a group of German students came to Paris, at the encouragement of Bernhard Groethuysen, to pay homage to Ponge as the "magus of phenomenology.
Thus, without mentioning Husserl that German philosopher under whom Sartre had studied as a young man in Berlin before the war ,  as Ponge looked beyond humanistic symbols, he too envisaged a cleansing of a humanist, bourgeois language in ways not unlike Antonin Artaud's hygienic solutions for the theater and its languages. Earlier still, surrealism's philosophic posture, defined in , aimed at destabilizing the centrality of the creative I through the practice of automatic writing.
Only this rejection of authorial overdetermination could free the transcription of thought from aesthetic, religious, and political interferences. In all these prewar critical stances, as represented by Sartre, Ponge, and Breton, Marxism played its part.
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Was there really a need to wait for the French philosopher Louis Althusser's Pour Marx to discover that in Marx's own evolution an initial humanistic phase was overthrown in in favor of a "scientific" explanation based on dialectical materialism? Authors no longer stood out as privileged beings in their aesthetic isolation; literature could no longer avoid being considered a representation of the classic economic superstructure.
It was thus impossible not to confront this critique of the socioeconomic in analyzing oneself as a literary figure producing no longer for an ill-defined public but for one that represented the ills of the world: the bourgeoisie and its humanistic cover-up. Before the Socialists, Sartre—and Breton before him—had already insisted on humanizing Marxism in order to provide it with a clean bill of health. Breton coupled Marx with Rimbaud in to define surrealism's political position,  and in the sixties Sartre insisted on an individual ethics to balance class imperatives.
Here the interrelation of economic conditions and literary-philosophic movements becomes evident. In the late fifties and early sixties official Marxist arguments were weakened by Western economic recovery. One could still condemn the exploitation of the Third World and the continuing socioeconomic injustices in the West, but talk of the coming demise of the capitalist regime had lost political credibility. For white intellectuals in Paris, there was proof everywhere of the renegotiated successes of that hated regime. In this period of Marxist disarray, structuralism came most propitiously, joining linguistics to psychoanalysis, two disciplines formerly little touched by political dispute in France.
What hidden power had linguistics and psychoanalysis to help alleviate a malaise associated with the centrality of man in literary as well as philosophical discourse? It may very well be that when structuralism first came to the public's attention it seemed to function apart from Marxism, with its insistence on analyzing the artifacts of society in terms of a dialectical and historical materialism. Linguistics, a rich and littlemined analytical model, was proposed as an unexpected solution, defined in the pristine terminology of the Swiss linguist of the turn of the century, Ferdinand de Saussure.
It is at this juncture that one can observe a particularly striking parallelism. At the very time Freud was delineating hitherto unidentified psychoanalytical conditions, Saussure in Geneva was doing the same. Saussure suggested a series of dual terms allowing synchronic linguistics to distinguish its proper investigations from the comparatist approach that had characterized the work of, among others, Wilhelm Humboldt.
As of the s, Saussurean terminology was to find a far greater application as Roland Barthes extended it to the analysis of social and cultural phenomena. Thus semiotics was born out of Ferdinand de Saussure's more restrained pioneering work in linguistics. Similarly, psychoanalysis was revitalized by structuralism.
Why this science was not as prominent in France as it was in the United States at the time the twenties may owe to a conjunction of three separate factors.
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One historian of the psychoanalytic movement in France, Elisabeth Roudinesco, emphasizes French doctrinal hesitation to assimilate a foreign and Jewish Freudian approach in France. To that one must add surrealism's appropriation of Freud's theories in the thirties, which may have contributed to the marginalization of Freud's views. And last, there was a persistent Cartesian doubt as to the validity of psychoanalysis per se.
It is equally clear in Roudinesco's research that Jacques Lacan circumvented these proscriptions by rethinking psychoanalysis in its clinical, interpretative functions, borrowing terms from structural linguistics and rhetoric, whose focus on the speaking unconscious displaced the existentialist and humanist insistence on the conscious I. In Lacan's theory of representation, linguistics provided part of the lexical paraphernalia; but as the analyst. The truth would no longer be revealed through Cartesian disquisitions reproducing the content of dreams but through the analyst's interpretative grid, which, for example, spotted metonymies as symptomatic figures of displacement.
Much like Dupin, Poe's famed detective with whom Lacan identified, the self-proclaimed inheritor of Freud's psychoanalysis assumed that only the analyst could recognize the placement of the purloined unconscious. For a moment at least, the social sciences had been relegated to the wings of reigning intellectual debates in mid-to late-sixties France.
And then came Jacques Derrida. What had yet to be proposed and without which the momentary eclipse of conventional Marxism would not have endured was the seductive theory that placed the value of writing itself at the center of the controversy over the relation between language and social structures—a theory so new, so unexpected, as to reorient all previous thinking about a subject dear to poets, writers, and intellectuals, that is, the value of writing itself.
Traditional philosophic theory had always accorded priority to speech. In the opinion of the early nineteenth-century Catholic thinker Joseph de Maistre, speech was reason exteriorized, reason manifested: "God speaks through speech. According to this unitary, deicentric logos, speech possessed the purity of nature; it was divinely inspired and therefore constituted a full sign complete in itself.
Ecriture, in its conceptual definition, was understood to be posterior to speech; as part of the world after the Fall, it was an empty sign. Thus when Derrida proposed two recuperative interpretations for the theory of writing, he focused on the Christian devalorization of writing after the Fall as well as its devalorization in the writings of Plato. He emphasized the visual dimension of the text, since as written signs, the letters themselves are polysemic.
James Joyce's "he war" in Finnegans Wake is an example. For Derrida the "he war" has a dual, and therefore ideological, significance only if it is seen rather than reduced to one of its meanings when vocalized. Ecriture for Derrida thus entertains a sequence of supplements, or multiplying meanings.
The former, classical insistence on the unity of.
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What had once been sacrosanct territory where reason prevailed, where a contractual agreement founded meaning within a social context and thus excluded polyvalent, competitive readings , was now left ideologically open, in a sphere where words destabilized words. The Derridean assault did not stop there.
French intellectual discourse takes a fateful turn when Derrida's pioneering studies are joined to the efforts of the influential magazine Tel Quel. Founded in , it represented some of the most intellectually gifted and radical poets, novelists, essayists, and ideologues. There, too, one read the great rediscovered texts of Freud, Joyce, Artaud: all writers and thinkers considered largely as literary and philosophic examples of the applicability of Derridean concepts.
Such a rethinking of the grounding of literary texts was to be joined to an equally imperative need to revitalize Marxism and psychoanalysis in the light of theoretical practices of reading both the internal mechanisms of linguistic expression and their translations of external realities. Marx had already shown the way when he broke with classical economic doctrines of the eighteenth century.
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Less than fifty years later, Freud was to do the same when he too broke the silence surrounding childhood sexuality in his interpretation of dreams. Sollers could, without batting an eye, recall Lenin's claim that "dogmatism was a word idealists and agnostics most frequently used against materialism. Ecriture, as it was defined by Tel Quel in the sixties, had at least two interconnected, though distinct, meanings.
The first played on concepts and the inscription of those concepts in literary works; the second, ancillary meaning centered on past literary and philosophical works that had been marginalized or censured. For instance, in the poetry of either Marcelin Pleynet or Denis Roche, where a textual concern was never innocent, the place of language per se—of rhetoric, of puns and narrative discontinuities,. Not only is there no equivalent term in English, but more to the point, today as in the sixties, the concept is nearly incomprehensible to many American poets and writers, who simply assume that the term writing describes technical, stylistic practices.
This, however, was also partly true in France. The vast difference between a traditionalist view and those ideas put forth by Tel Quel is typified in Raymond Picard's criticism of Roland Barthes's theories on the plays of Racine. It is most efficient when invisible, and nobly so much as translators, until recently, were to remain invisible in the works they translated. Or put another way, Tel Quel considered transparency a manifestation of the tastes of the bourgeoisie.
As Lacan had ascribed to tropes a significant position in the interpretation of dream narratives, so Tel Quel supposed meaning to be hidden and revealed by the play of metonymies and synecdoches. What was once considered an ornamental addition to verse and to classical oratory now found itself at the center of analyses.
Moreover, it had lost its innocence: it was now seen as part of a class-based discourse. With that analogy, incomprehensible to readers of traditional poetry, an anti-Aristotelian rhetoric is founded, emancipating tropes from their chain of signifieds. Ever since Cicero and Quintilian, right down to the eighteenth-century rhetorician Pierre Fontanier,  analogy or any other form of comparison had been based on two similar elements brought together to highlight the first half of the equation.
As far as Tel Quel was concerned, rhetoric could no longer be left unquestioned, a supposition in Western philosophy—something that could be proved and then universally accepted, like a theorem in mathematics: rhetoric had become a visible carrier or distorter of meaning.
This conceptual insertion of the self-mirroring text resulted in a cooling-down process, a desubjectivization, thereby insinuating a distance between reader, text, and author. That distance was not only an aesthetic strategy, it was also an ideological one, since for Tel Quel one of the justifications for the continuation of writing was to subvert a class-identified neoromantic posture.
To further substantiate its position, Tel Quel sought to recuperate as the surrealists before them had begun to do those writers and philosophers who had not conformed to such romantic postulates, and who as a consequence had been shunted aside by a society anxious to preserve its moral imperatives against all forms of expression perceived as dangerous or obscene.
The status of these writers reinforced Tel Quel 's views: aesthetics was indeed intertwined with ideology. A stylistic critique, supported by the power of propriety in a bourgeois conscience, thus sufficed to keep such writers out of schools and anthologies. For its part, Tel Quel proposed a revisionist reading of these texts.
In studies like Sollers's Logiques , there was a vitriolic affirmation of the genius of those marginalized writers who condemned Christianity and insisted on erotic, sadistic, or political subjects to assail the smug bourgeois reader. As early as May Sollers, in an interview with the staff of the Marxist review La Nouvelle Critique , indicated his wholehearted support of their line.
Thus, thematics found its way back to the center of critical appreciation, but. At a time when most attention was riveted to the chain of signifiers, to the play of rhetoric, to stylistic practices, that is, to the exclusion of conventional subject matter and especially of biographical considerations, those very concerns snuck in through the politically correct back door to weigh the impact of Nietzsche's views or, indeed, those of the marquis de Sade.
The relation between literature and politics has never been an easy one. I mean the acceptance or the nonacceptance of this regime. Not quite. We find it in Breton's Second Surrealist Manifesto. This often precarious alliance among literary criticism, literature, and Marxism profoundly marked the power and the weakness of French intellectuals, especially during times when it was believed that the left had to be united, that, somehow, writers had to link aesthetics and commitment.
Here again we are reminded of surrealism, which had its own critique of that Platonic idea. It was imperative for that movement to recenter the text, not as a willful act of composition, following traditional modes of writing, but as an activity sufficiently liberated from societal pressures to allow the uncensored content of thought to emerge. In practicing automatic writing, the surrealists assumed they were short-circuiting the dictates of. In this fashion surrealism thought to displace the authorial voice and substitute for it the voice of the unconscious, what Georg Groddeck called the "it.
For Sartre, such endeavors were eminently confused. In appreciating surrealism's "dilemma" in , Sartre called for Breton to make up his mind and accord initial priority to the Marxist, collective enterprise, and only after that victory had been won to turn his attention to the Rimbaldian adventure of the solitary poet.
A writer is locked into the socioeconomic order; to save literature from becoming a passive supporter of the system, the writer has to confront the "situation" within that order and consider the act of writing as something also done on behalf of mankind. From the Tel Quel point of view it was unequivocally tainted.
For work to be at one with poetics, it had to negate inspiration, one of the ideological leitmotifs of traditional practices. Ecriture was to become that Trojan horse ready to force its way into the bourgeois fortress. Work held a privileged position in this revision of Marxism, since it offered the possibility, within the world of literature and of writing in general, of linking the productivity of the literary figure with that of the proletariat.
Radical thinking had to be accompanied by a radical reformulation of poetics. Not only was inspiration suspect, it was furthermore intellectually indefensible and politically incompatible with Tel Quel 's efforts to legitimize literature through a series of subversions, many of them founded on an explicit autoreferentiality, that is, allowing the rhetorical underpinnings of the argument to stand out.
The traditional emphasis on the identity of those who produced literature also had to be discarded. A romantic mythology had canonized the author, and in particular the poet, as one somehow outside the body politic. Thus, the fact of being an author returned one to the very system that a rejuvenated Marxism had obstreperously denied. To avoid this pitfall, the one who wrote was no longer to be considered a privileged being but rather a scriptor through whom the values of the social system prevailed, values of which the texts could render an account.
What was needed in this setting was an unambiguous declaration of intention. Denis Roche provided it. And yet, however it might recall surrealism and existentialism in certain ways, Tel Quel breathed a different air. Just as one must see surrealism as a post-World War I manifestation and existentialism as emerging from post-World War II conditions, so must one appreciate the correspondence between Tel Quel and a reenergized French economy, in which vacation homes became the rage and university students and their parents believed that financial advancement lay in graduating from the ENA Ecole nationale de l'administration , a high-class business school, or any other Grande Ecole as opposed to the unmarked, "run-of-the-mill" universities.
In this economy of recovery, power was allied to education. This complicity between pedagogy and politics was to erupt in acts of defiance in late April and early May At that juncture a leftist critique of university practices found an objective correlation with. Student revolts in seemed to be the clearest indication that Parisian activists and a segment of the French university population both students and faculty would no longer tolerate the existence of a caste system blind to socioeconomic inequities. To be young, intelligent, determined, and dissatisfied in was close to being that blissful William Wordsworth traveling across revolutionary France in For a brief moment intellectuals, poets, writers, and philosophers could—as they had done in , when the left was first put in power in the Popular Front—feel that their repudiation of an ideology, so clearly evident in the structure and curriculum of the French university, would finally bear fruit.
In this euphoric anticipation, feminists seemed equally favored. Simone de Beauvoir, having been eclipsed in France after her ground-breaking Second Sex and then hailed in the United States—the very country she had damned in her study— now returned to the forefront of theory. Articles in Les Temps modernes testify to that, as does the activism of young French university women who decided to join workers in the Billancourt factories.
All the elements were in place for radicalizing the public through demonstrations in the streets. But this did not occur; perhaps the great deflation of the dream reminiscent of the reactions of French poets after the revolution of partially explains not only the rise of the New Philosophers, who proclaimed the death of all ideologies, but also the failure of the left to concentrate its efforts, as well as the political disengagement of the poets and writers I have included in this volume. Before the enthusiasm of had flagged, one might have expected poetic activity and political activism to join forces, as they did in the United States during the Vietnam War.
In France, however, they did not. To understand what may at first seem an unexpected disjunction between two fields that had historically been allied, one must go back to. One could not, of course, condemn the poets' desire to participate in the liberation of their country, nor could one too openly criticize them for having forsaken their previous, experimental, practices. Intellectuals of the sixties, so as not to appear to condemn those poets outright, turned their ire to an indictment of their position through a critique of lyricism.
Georges Bataille had already declared in that "there was an incompatibility between literature and commitment," and in Marcelin Pleynet was to write: "The poet is certainly no stranger to political events; however, it is impossible not to note that his poetry most frequently speaks of other things—that he speaks on the sidelines. In fact as a poet he has nothing to say, since his "event" is not concurrent with history but rather with his own birth. It is then no wonder that Tel Quel elected Francis Ponge as one of its representative figures: he had long condemned lyricism—not only the lyricism of lachrymose poetry but also that of Resistance poetry, that morally legitimate enterprise.
In Ponge's own life, his civic responsibilities during the war had remained entirely separate from his poetic activities. One might wish to ascribe a patriotic intention to his praise of the plane tree or appreciate his comments on the shortage of soap as a subtle marker of a period's difficulties; for Ponge, such readings were not pertinent.
But the rejection of lyric poetry that so typified the poetics of the sixties had its origins in yet another manifestation, perhaps most characteristically defined by Michel Deguy as "autobionarcissism. Lyrical topics—essentially, love poetry—had also become taboo. But more than the topics, the form itself had become questionable. To assail lyricism could then be interpreted as a way of undermining the edifice of traditional poetics. Although for Americans it may be hard to see the "overthrow" of a poetic line as an ideological act of profound significance, this notion does give us special insight into French concerns, wherein art is never confined to its simple expression.
Poetry especially, since it appears neutral except in polemical, satirical, or patriotic moments , has been a thorn in the side of avant-garde debates. As free verse had at one point seemed a departure from time-honored authorial pretensions, so would the rejection of the lyric form and its alexandrine infrastructure seem at another time. So clear is the association between lyricism and readability that during the war Aragon explicitly supported and practiced the return to sonnets written in classical alexandrines. By the same token, it became a form of betrayal in the sixties to continue writing affective or political poetry in which the heart sang out, sonnets—and lyric verse in general—that might have made poetry more accessible.
For further proof of the vacuity of lyrical expression, one only had to read Apollinaire's love poems or Aragon's devotional, troubadour-like texts addressed to his Elsa. Besides the exclusion of lyricism, a critique of narration in the long run may have been of even greater significance. Classical poetry depends on narration. It tells a story, whether a love story or a Boileau-like satirical tale. There is thus a collusion of the poet's identity and his or her desire to pursue an understated form of story-telling.
The novel, too, having dropped the possible models found in Sterne's Tristram Shandy or in Diderot's Jacques le fataliste , went on in the same linear way. But narration, in light of Tel Quel's , analyses, was associated with the gratification of bourgeois reading needs and was thus off-limits. Any infringement of this relegation would raise questions, which, taking off from the text, ultimately forced one to reflect on the relation between a type of literary production and class stipulations.
Narration, in effect, in all its conventionality, was decried from the standpoint of poetics and branded as a reactionary practice. Since lyricism and narration had been the very models that permitted literature to be used for political purposes, denying the validity of both meant that another formal and innovative poetics had to be expounded—some form, some content heretofore barely present in doctrinal poetic pronouncements. Risset quotes Bataille to that effect: "Sovereignty is revolt; it is not the exercise of power. To this end, Tel Quel took it upon itself to eradicate all traces of bourgeois tradition from within poetry.
An aggressive restructuring of writing itself was to jar the complacent reader. By employing an antirhetoric rhetoric, insisting on autoreferentiality, negating classical narrativity, and substituting a grammatical I for the lyrical subject, writers would accentuate their disengagement and force on readers a new and active involvement in decoding the text. Pleasure was out: retraining was in. Poetics would be politicized, as Tel Quel argued, through an objective denunciation of bourgeois ideology where it hurt the most—in one's armchair, in one's bedroom, away from the Sturm und Drang of the outside world.
As a result, what might have appeared yet another form of hermeticism "unreadability" was actually the avant-garde's fidelity to its semantic origins: the avant-garde, after all, was originally the military force with the most courage, out in the front lines of battle. It was not, then, merely a question of the relation of literature to politics and, moreover, the efficacy of the word in a revolutionary setting, or even whether literature had anything to say in a revolutionary process.
Before asking those weighty questions, one might have asked. In raising the ethical issue of the compatibility of politics and poetry, the sixties answered in the following terms: Literature in general prose and poetry has always sought its place in revolutionary situations, however negligible it might have been in actually changing people's minds. What counted was that authors figured in that drama and thereby justified their moral existence. As far as poets and writers were concerned, that commitment, more than any other, could break the canonic relation among reader, text, and author—the three subjected to society's needs and to its control.
In its theorizing some called it "terrorizing" , Tel Quel decided to violate existing codes whereby reading was a purely aesthetic experience, rather than a confrontation with one's being in the world as embodied in the text. Sartre's question in "What Is Literature?
In sum, this ambition was founded on the proposition that a redefined understanding of the applicability of theory and its illustration in literary texts—themselves at one with theory—would actively participate in a revolutionary process. Having presented the historical context of certain intellectual movements in France, I would now like to move on to some of the formative influences on the writers and poets included in this volume. The earliest influence was, of course, the educational system before the year in which reforms began.
Cultural critics in France as well as in the United States have often remarked on common features in French artistic expression, whether a musical composition by Pierre Boulez, a theatrical production by Georges Lavaudant, or a work of fiction by Marguerite Duras. The distinctive traits these works share can be traced back to the educational model in France, but also in francophone countries such as Haiti or Senegal. What, then, were these readings and exercises considered essential to a French education?
Whether the student was asked to write an essay, recite a poem, or analyze a paragraph of prose, elegance and equilibrium were encouraged, to which might be added a sense of propriety, even in topics that engage the reader or writer in themes of violence. Reading Liliane Giraudon's short stories, one is immediately struck by the refinement and precision of language in its depiction of scenes of sexuality and violence. To be a writer of prose or especially poetry signals one's remove from the conventional concerns of pulp literature.
The combination of stylistic and linguistic refinement with a shocking content follows a tradition that goes back at least to Diderot's Bijoux indiscrets or Restif de La Bretonne's Paysan perverti It should thus. How did this value added to thematics come about? My first hypothesis centers on a student's entry into the French language through the shaping of letters in the small squares found on schoolbook pages. This inaugural practice—a sort of lay "religious" discipline—places stress on form. Schoolchildren before were not expected to have a thorough understanding of the word or when they had, it was of little consequence , nor were they encouraged to think about what they were doing.
It was taken as an exercise. Writing was first of all watching over one's penmanship. For the children trained under such a regimen, letters and words were a preparation for what would later be defined as the chain of signifiers by linguists and stylists who insisted on the primacy of literariness, that is, on what actually makes a text literary, rather than on the time-honored analyses that privilege the ideas in a given work. Skip over the signifier rope: earn your badges much as Cub Scouts do when they learn to master the art of tying knots.
At no time under this system was a child encouraged to propose variants to this mechanistic introduction to the world of the alphabet. Legible handwriting, correct spelling, neat presentation: these were the major concerns, when I went to primary school in France, when all those I interviewed went to school. All of us were told to hand in our cahiers so that the teacher could grade them not for content but for how well the letters had been shaped, the paragraphs ordered.
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My second hypothesis points to that entrenched French pedagogical practice called l'explication de texte. Severely criticized by Barthes and others in the sixties as a reductionist operation that forces all texts, whatever their specificity, into a singular quadratic mold, it obliges the student to provide first a brief bio-bibliographical statement, then an. The result is a near-servile admiration of the instructor's knowledge as well as of the method itself, firmly imprinted by innumerable hours of application.
In the long run, to explicate a text is to render homage not only to the virtues of a given classical French text but also, by implication, to the analytical method at play. Here beauty of language is prized, and the student must, through mimetic application, duplicate what had always been done and had gained an almost ahistorical status, thereby achieving the very definition of classicism. Such training establishes in the minds of schoolchildren an enduring sensibility to form and an acute awareness of the particularities of writing.
My third hypothesis turns to essay writing. Students were encouraged to do what had always been done: write with clarity, economy, and elegance. Brevity was imposed by the restrictive nature of the topics offered by the teacher: let us say, the description of a spoon or a window, or the evocation of a particular character trait in The Song of Roland. If Francis Ponge developed a keen talent in translating from Latin into French, it may have been, as he remembers it, because he had already discovered his own penchant for Latin, a language that refused to overflow.
In speaking of these Loyola-like spiritual exercises, the presence of rhetoric cannot be overestimated. How else does one come to resemble classical poets and writers? By what other means can one learn the ropes, if not by mimicking the tropes and structures of classical eloquence? Poetry, wrote Denis Roche, is no longer admissible. His personal answer, at least for an extended period of time, has been to turn to photography. One of his photography books contains pictures of himself, his wife, and the places they have visited Egypt and Mexico , as well as of his parents and his grandparents, the latter taken from family archives.
These photographs illustrate a less arcane artist, one in fact focusing on images of himself, either directly or indirectly, and, through genealogy, suggesting that a chastened form of lyricism has made a comeback, one marked by the scripting of self in the present. This development, as seen in the poets and writers here included, sheds light on the emergence of a new poetics.
It is a quiet revolution: there are no apparent schools involved and therefore no identifiable "isms. At least on the surface, and in contradistinction to their predecessors, today's poets and writers are not working in a polemical atmosphere. If in a French context it is nearly unthinkable that micropolitical concerns disappear, these concerns have not, in any way that I can observe, affected lyricism's re turn. When Emmanuel Hocquard invents his poetic situations and crowds them with individuals who respond to the world much as would characters in a TV soap opera, he allows a choice to filter through as well as a presence of self that had not been evident before in avant-garde prose or poetry.
Perhaps most typical in this preference accorded lyricism is the reactivation of the first-person singular, now no longer a mere grammatical unit as it was in the sixties. Hocquard's novels, essays, and poetry confirm this direction. For the informed reader, the autobiographical content is. Not only does Hocquard obviously enjoy this inscription of self, he also takes the opportunity to allude to close friends, though only, as the intimate convention dictates, by initials.
This practice has almost become a topos in his work. To speak of oneself—that seems a fair indication of a lyrical bent. Maurice Roche most deftly reveals this connection in his maxims, entitled "Moi," which, however caustic, humorous, and ironic, however given to verbal gymnastics, nonetheless center on a man's haunting preoccupation with his own life and foreshadowed death.
These reflections had already found their place in his Testament In both instances, although the writing and the point of departure may be different, there is a shift away from past poetics and a new investment in the description of events in one's daily existence. However formalistic Roubaud may be in the composition of the poems in Quelque chose noir , the result makes a deep and moving impression—not because of the constraints he imposed on the composition but because of the theme: mourning the death of his wife.
Here we are at the height of descriptive intimacy.
If indeed there are markers of lyricism, they would certainly partake of all these elements. The insistence on the everyday also warrants comment. It must be considered as an antithesis to autobiography, in which the individual emphasizes memorable events in his or her life, ones to be preserved for posterity.
The recapitulation of daily experience comes closer to journal writing, which has quite the opposite concerns. For the journal writer, what counts is repetition itself. In fact, what is written down can. The notation of daily events is not intended to supplement memory. On the contrary, it translates a sort of epiphanic moment that passes as quickly as it was felt. In these fictions and poems what clearly emerges, on the surface at least, are the folds and simultaneities of life itself, stripped of literary pretensions.
This inscription of the daily event is one facet of the new poetics. Such a gaze on one's life excludes both the metaphorical excess of surrealism and the topicalized rhetoric of Tel Quel. Metaphors are out, as Claude Royet-Journoud states in his interview. Similarly excluded are the illustrative functions accorded to poetry as an exemplar of poetics circa the sixties. Thus, they introduce a formal elegance to balance enthusiastic lyrical topics.
To be revived as an antidote to the theoretical aggressivity of the sixties, lyricism had to reject the self-centeredness that had typified the caricatural author whose indelible sufferings filled books of poems and autobiographical novels. Moreover, the alexandrine had to be dismissed once more! If lyricism was to be relegitimized, at the very least it had to be stripped of its classical versification. By now it must be clear that there are no connections between a Lamartinian lyrical expression or for that matter a Wordsworthian one, typified by his Lyrical Ballads and what poets of the avant-garde are doing today, perhaps because theory in France remains inseparable from the practice of poetry.
Theory is the metadiscourse that allows poetry to speak about itself with intelligence, at a certain remove, in order to comment on its verbal inventions and intentions. Theory then acts as a supplement to poetry, facilitating the verbalization of the condensed material that poetry claims to be while constituting a discourse in itself. In this setting formalism inescapably resurfaces; it figures not simply as technique but more as a means of justifying expression.
Two avant-garde movements were founded in Tel Quel and Oulipo. Perhaps the latter group's most identifiable trait was its playfully serious manner of reining in invention by imposing formal restrictions on literary practice. Raymond Queneau, one of the founders of Oulipo, took satisfaction in composing his novels as if they were sonnets, attending to details like syllable count and vowel alternation while constructing, in the larger scheme, geometrical games involving spirals and circles Queneau was, by his own admission, a failed mathematician.
The same might be said of some of the Oulipian experiments, which are saved only by their humor, their inventiveness, or, in Georges Perec's W, or The Memory of. Childhood ,  by a quest for Jewish identity that is deeply felt, for all the stylistic and linguistic juggling.