dimanche 27 juin 2010

Nathalie Heinich ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

On aura compris, enfin, que le sociologue peut se donner pour objet ces deux niveaux de rapport à l'expérience - le descriptif et le normatif, le réel et les représentations -, puisqu'ils font tous deux partie de la réalité. Mais c'est à deux conditions: d'une part, il lui faut soigneusement dissocier ces registres énonciatifs, en prenant en compte le contexte de ces positions de principes ou de ces comptes-rendus; et d'autre part, il lui faut s'abstenir de toute réduction critique, soit par la minimisation des aspects de l'expérience qui ne correspondraient pas aux valeurs qui sont les siennes, soit par la réduction des valeurs défendues par les acteurs à des illusions qui démentiraient le réel des "mythes" ou des "idéologies" ayant pour fonction - comme le soutenait Barthes - de transformer l'histoire en nature ou - comme le soutient la pensée marxiste et néomarxiste - les intérêts privés en idéologies générales. Les valeurs sont à considérer par le sociologue comme un élément fondamental de la vie sociale, qu'il n'a pas à défendre, ni a critiquer mais seulement à analyser. Elles ne relèvent d'ailleurs pas d'une épreuve de vérité, mais d'une épreuve de cohérence: une valeur n'est ni vraie ni fausse, mais elle est, au mieux, plus ou moins cohérente avec d'autres valeurs, avec les actions qui visent à la réaliser, et avec l'état des choses.
C'est pourquoi il nous a fallu nous abstenir, tout au long de cette analyse, de lire les propos tenus par les intéressés à travers l'hypothèse du soupçon, qui amènerait à supposer qu'en s'exprimant sur les différentes dimensions de leur identité, les écrivains pourraient mentir ou, tout au moins, exagérer. Car il n'en resterait pas moins que ces discours, du seul fait qu'ils sont produits, sont congruents avec l'état d'écrivain tel que les intéressés sont en mesure de se le représenter ou de le présenter à autrui: ce en quoi cette représentation a une cohérence, et un sens.
(p. 305-306)

Nathalie Heinich ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

Or ce qui, dans ces entretiens, apparaît de façon récurrente, c'est l'identification aux personnes des auteurs, présentées sans réserve comme des modèles ou des références en matière de comportement: comme si le lien avec la tradition, problématique au niveau d'une œuvre qui se doit d'être originale, devenait dicible et même revendiquable au niveau de la personne, ainsi capable d'accrocher à des noms son sentiment, ou son désir, d'appartenance.
Ainsi les plus grands noms sont invoqués non comme modèles d'écriture mais comme modèles de vie, y compris au niveau le plus trivial de l'existence quotidienne [...].
Les grandes personnalités littéraires peuvent être invoquées aussi comme modèles de comportement en tant qu'écrivain: par exemple dans le rapport à la publication [...], ou avec les médias [...] Enfin, certaines misères matérielles, qui dans le monde ordinaire représenteraient une déchéance, trouvent une atténuation voire une justification dans l'invocation de ceux qui, par leur grandeur en tant qu'écrivains, ont donné à la pauvreté des lettres de noblesse [...].
Articulant la solitude de l'écriture avec l'aspiration à l'universalité littéraire, la référence récurrente aux noms propres d'écrivains est le lieu d'un possible compromis entre l'exigence d'une singularité de l'œuvre et la nostalgie d'une communauté de personnes. Et elle est, en même temps, un outil de modélisation d'une identité à la fois fortement investie et largement indéterminée, et qui ne peut se couler dans des formes collectives, subsumées sous le nom commun d'"écrivain", qu'à condition de les individualiser par l'imposition du nom propre affiché par la signature.
(p. 153-155)

mardi 22 juin 2010

Budd Schulberg, THE DISENCHANTED, Random House, New York, 1950

"Maybe that's the problem with you American writers, you think of yourselves as athletic stars."
"I always had a crazy ambition to be a backfield star - I'll never know why," he confessed. "To break out in the open with one of those dazzling exhibitions like Red Grange or Chris Cagle."
"I think you're the second author I know who wanted to be a football player. And two others who are frustrated pitchers and would-be Jimmy McLarnin. In Europe the authors would like to have been composers or painters or mathematicians."
"We're a more muscular race. And I suppose since writers are fairly sensitive registers of national consciousness, they naturally reflect the hero-worship of their times. After all who else had any grandeur in American life except a Ruth, a Dempsey or a Bobby Jones?"
"You go home and start your novel and leave the touchdowns to Orv Molher," she said.
(p. 281)

Budd Schulberg, THE DISENCHANTED, Random House, New York, 1950

With no more dollars to cash in for francs, the expatriates were folding their manuscripts and quietly going home. It turned out even Hank had been drawing a modest income from some family investments; now he came in a little sheepishly to say he was going home. Everything was going to pieces. The word home had a strange sound on his Gallicized tongue. Hank had found a real home in Paris. Just as so much American writing had. Perhaps in the quick fever of the Twenties it had had no other. Yet, saying good-bye to Hank, he realized that he had never belonged to the literary Americans-in-Paris. He hadn't belonged to anything.
(p. 265)

Budd Schulberg, THE DISENCHANTED, Random House, New York, 1950

He even formalized it by drawing up a Declaration of Personal Independence, forcing himself for the first time to answer the artist's catechism: What is my motive in writing this book? Money? Fame? Social pressure? Moral influence? Personal need...? He confessed to himself and Jere how much he had enjoyed the wealth and popularity his books had brought. It had taken fire, infidelity, near-suicide to destroy the dragons of Success. Thank God, it isn't too late, he told Jere. Before I compose another book I will learn to compose myself. Out of his twenties at last, with his century itself facing its Thirties, there was no more time for literary catch-as-catch-can.
(p. 245-246)

Budd Schulberg, THE DISENCHANTED, Random House, New York, 1950

"Shep, what were we talking about when we came in? Something we didn't finish. Something important."
For several minutes neither one could remember.
"It couldn't 've been unimportant," Manley laughed. "Oh - I remember. American writers. Here they come - there they go." He sipped from the watered drink unprotestingly. "That's it - wanted to finish my thought." He closed his eyes, straining to bring the subject back into focus.
" 'Merican writers, full o' promise, tremendous promises; when they die, still promising. Can't seem to keep their promises. Hart Crane - all Hart Cranes, the best of 'em. Even Ernest. Ernest's a promising writer. Maybe the most promosing we ever had."
Suddenly his hand flew up in an ascending line. "European writers, like that - but 'merican writers, like this -" His hand cheked its upward flight and nosedived back to the table. "Know why?"
"I think I do," Shep said. "Their unrealistic approach to..."
"Oh, I read Granville Hicks too. Trouble with all our writers is they never read Marx. Poe, Melville, Dickinson, all of 'em frustrated 'cause they didn't worship Marx. Booshwah. Banana oil. Baloney. Reason's economic, all right. But more complicated. Writer starts as rebel. His out at his own roots. Spoon River. Sauk Center. Pottsville country club - wherever it is. Book's a sucess - writer's like a racehorse - moves up in class. Gets money - goes away - New York - Europe - starts writing things he doesn't know - shoulda stayed home. Stayed put. Shoulda stood in bed. That's trouble with 'merican writers. Most of 'em. Success uproots 'em. Isolates 'em. Europe, a book is a book, a leaf o' literature. America, a book's a commodity, even the honest book, if it clicks, if it goes over big. Maybe lucky thing about Faulkner. Never went over big. Just a few thousand to read 'im and know what he is. Bill stays put. Writes people he knows, and his old man knew, and his old man. Sense o' past. Sense o' place. Sense o' roots..."
(p. 183-184)

jeudi 17 juin 2010

Nathalie Heinich ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

Cette propension à la singularisation consonne particulièrement bien avec l'image du poète, incarnant à l'extrême celui qui habite les marges: "Un romancier est dans la société en tant que producteur de fictions, alors qu'un poète est quelqu'un de toujours marginal, de toutes façons. Le poète est quelqu'un qui n'est pas dans la société", estime un romancier.
(p. 133)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

"Dear fellows! It does my heart good to see them forget business and frolic for a day," answered Jo, who now spoke in a maternal way of all mankind. "Yes, I remember, but the life I wanted then seems selfish, lonely, and cold to me now. I haven't given up the hope that I may write a good book yet, but I can wait, and I'm sure it will be all the better for such experiences and illustrations as these." And Jo pointed from the lively lads in the distance to her father, leaning on the Professor's arm, as they walked to and fro in the sunshine, deep in one of the conversations which both enjoyed so much, and then to her mother, in sitting enthroned among her daughters, with their children in her lap and at her feet, as if all found help and hapiness in the face which never could grow old to them.
(p. 527-528)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

"An old maid, that's what I'm to be. A literary spinster, with a pen for a spouse, a family of stories for children, and twenty years hence a morsel of fame, perhaps; when, like poor Jonhson, I'm old, and can't enjoy it, solitary, and can't share it, independent, and don't need it. Well, I needn't be a sour saint nor a selfish sinner, and, I dare say, old maids are very comfortable when they get used to it, but -" And there Jo sighed, as if the prospect was not inviting.
(p. 474)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

Another and a better gift than intellect was shown her in a most unexpected manner. Miss Norton had the entree into literary society, which Jo would have had no chance of seeing but for her. The solitary woman felt an interest in the ambitious girl, and kindly conferred many favors of this sort both on Jo and the Professor. She took them with her one night to a select symposium, held in honor of several celebrities.
Jo went prepared to bow down and adore the mighty ones whom she had worshiped with youthful enthusiam afar off. But her reverence for genius received a severe shock that night, and it took her some time to recover from the discovery that the great creatures were only men and women after all. Imagine her dismay, on stealing a glance of timid admiration at the poet whose lines suggested an ethereal being fed on "spirit, fire, and dew," to behold him devouring his supper with an ardor which flushed his intellectual countenance. Turning as from a fallen idol, she made other discoveries which rapidly dispelled her romantic illusions. The great novelist vibrated between two decanters with the regularity of a pendulum; the famous divine flirted openly with one of the Madame de Staëls of the age, who looked daggers at another Corinne, who was amiably satirizing her, after outmaneuvering her in efforts to absorb the profound philosopher, who imbibed tea Johnsonianly and appeared to slumber, the loquacity of the lady rendering speech impossible.
[...]
Before the evening was half over, Jo felt so completely desilusionnée, that she sat down in a corner to recover herself.
(p. 379-380)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

Jo soon found out that her innocent experience had given her but few glimpses of the tragic world which underlies society, so regarding it in a business light, she set about supplying her deficiencies with characteristic energy. Eager to find material for stories, and bent on making them original in plot, if not masterly in execution, she searched newspapes for accidents, incidents, and crimes; she excited the suspicions of public librarians by asking for works on poisons; she studied faces in the street, and characters, good, bad, and indifferent, all about her; she delved in the dust of ancient times for facts or fictions so old that they were as good as new, and introduced herself to folly, sin, and misery, as well as her limited opportunities allowed. She thought she was prospering finely, but unconsciously she was beginning to desecrate some of the womanliest attributes of a woman's character. She was living in bad society, and imaginary though it was, its influence affected her, for she was feeding heart and fancy on dangerous and unsubstantial food, and was fast brushing the innocent bloom from her nature by a premature acquaintance with the darker side of life, which comes soon enough to all of us.
(p. 377-378)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

She took to writing sensation stories, for in those dark ages, even all-perfect America read rubbish. She told no one, but concocted a "thrilling tale," and boldly carried it herself to Mr Dashwood, editor of the Weekly Volcano.
(p. 373-374)

lundi 14 juin 2010

Nathalie Heinich ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

Les modalités de l'identité d'écrivain [...] font partie d'une culture commune dans laquelle nous baignons tous, quoique inégalement selon notre degré de proximité avec le monde de la création. Ainsi pourrait-on y accéder par l'intuition, en procédant à une sorte d'investigation phénoménologique, telle qu'elle a déjà pu s'opérer dans le domaine des études littéraires - aidées en cela par la capacité, propre aux écrivains, de fournir spontanément une trace écrite de leurs expériences ou de leurs conceptions. Mais la sociologie offre des instruments de recherche plus élaborés, notamment grâce à la technique de l'entretien, susceptible de faire expliciter des situations vécues, des valeurs, des images mentales, des idées, qui ne peuvent s'observer ni directement, par les actes, ni indirectement, par leur éventuelle projection dans des œuvres.
(p. 15)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

Her family and friends administered comfort and commendation liberally; yet it was a hard time for sensitive, high-spirited Jo, who meant so well and had apparently done so ill. But it did her good, for those whose opinion had real value gave her the criticism which is an anthor's best education; and when the first soreness was over, she could laugh at her poor little book, yet believe in it still, and feel herself the wiser and stronger for the buffeting she had received.
"Not being a genius, like Keats, it won't kill me," she said stoutly, "and I've got the joke on my side, after all, for the parts that were taken straight out of real life are denounced as impossible and absurd, and the scenes that I made up out of my own silly head are pronounced 'charmingly natural, tender, and true.' So I'll comfort myself with that, and when I'm ready, I'll up again and take another."
(p. 292)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

She did not think herself a genius by any means; but when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and clear to her as any in the flesh. Sleep forsook her eyes, meals stood untasted, day and night were all too short to enjoy the happiness which blessed her only at such times, and made these hours worth living, even if they bore no other fruit. The divine afflatus usually lasted a week or two, and then she emerged from her "vortex," hungry, sleepy, cross, or despondent.
(p. 285-286)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

As long as The Spread Eagle paid her a dollar a column for her "rubbish," as she called it, Jo felt herself a woman of means, and spun her little romances diligently. But great plans fermented in her busy brain and ambitious mind, and the old tin kitchen in the garret held a slowly increasing pile of blotted manuscript, which was one day to place the name of March upon the roll of fame.
(p. 257)

dimanche 13 juin 2010

Nathalie Heinich ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

C'est là une limite du concept de "champ" chez Pierre Bourdieu: opératoire pour décrire l'espace de pertinence des acteurs directement impliqués dans une activité, il ne suffit plus pour comprendre ce qui fait sens pour tous ceux aux yeux de qui elle est une valeur.
(p. 18)

Nathalie Heinich ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

Nous sommes là dans la tradition webérienne de la sociologie compréhensive: il va s'agir de déployer l'espace des possibles en lequel on peut aujourd'hui se considérer et être considéré comme écrivain. Espace pluriel, il autorise une analyse typologique, qui fera apparaître aussi bien des cas typiques, fixant l'"idéal-type" de l'écrivain tel qu'il est communément partagé, que des cas limites, marquant les bornes de cet univers.
(p. 14)

Louisa May Alcott, LITTLE WOMEN, Bantam Classic, New York, 2007 [1871]

"Well, I've left two stories with a newspaperman, and he's to give his answer next week," whispered Jo, in her confidant's ear.
"Hurrah for Miss March, the celebrated American authoress!" cried Laurie, throwing up his hat and catching it again, to the great delight of two ducks, four cats, five hens, and half a dozen Irish children, for they were out of the city now.
"Hush! It won't come to anything, I dare say, but I couldn't rest till I had tried, and I said nothing about it because I didn't want anyone else to be disappointed."
"It won't fail. Why, Jo, your stories are works of Shakespeare compared to half the rubbish that is published every day. Won't it be fun to see them in print, and shan't we feel proud of our authoress?"
Jo's eyes sparkled, for it is always pleasant to be believed in, and a friend's praise is always sweeter than a dozen newspaper puffs.
(p. 161)

samedi 12 juin 2010

Vincent Descombes, PROUST, PHILOSOPHIE DU ROMAN, cité in Nathalie Heinich, ÊTRE ÉCRIVAIN, La Découverte, Paris, 2000

Parler de l'institution de la littérature n'est donc pas désigner des aspects voyants ou surannés tels que l'Académie Française, les prix littéraires, etc. C'est bien plutôt considérer que des phénomènes tels que l'écriture, la page blanche, les vicissitudes de l'inspiration, les migrations du poétique sont les traits visibles qui marquent, dans la conscience collective, le statut d'écrivain. Il y a une institution de la littérature parce qu'il y a une définition collective de l'écrivain, de celui qui a choisi de mener une "existence littéraire".
(p. 18-19)