mardi 6 juillet 2010

Cathy N. Davidson, REVOLUTION AND THE WORD; THE RISE OF THE NOVEL IN AMERICA, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004 [1986]

In many ways, the novel was the perfect form for this imperfect time. As Mikhail M. Bakhtin argues, prose fiction has been perceived as a subversive literary form in every Western society into which it was introduced: subversive of certain class notions of who should and should not be literate; subversive of notions of what is or is not a suitable literary subject matter and form and style; subversive of the term literature itself. The novel did not rhyme or scan. It required no knowledge of Latin or Greek, no intermediation or interpretation by cleric or academic. It required, in fact - from reader and writer - virtually no traditional education or classical erudition since, by definition, the novel was new, novel. Furthermore, the novel was, formalistically, voracious. It fed upon and devoured more familiar literary forms such as travel, captivity, and military narratives; political and religious tracts; advice books, chapbooks, penny histories, and almanacs. It appropriated drama (in its dialogic moments) and even (in its epigraphs and endings) poetry. It also appropriated nonliterary forms such as letters [...] or diaries as well as traditionally oral forms of culture such as local gossip, rumor, hearsay, folktales. It was a dangerously inchoate form appropriate for and correlative to a country first attempting to formulate itself.
(p. 71)

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