mardi 31 août 2010

John Updike, THE COMPLETE HENRY BECH, New York, Everyman's Library, 2001 [1970] [1982] [1998] [1999]

I don't suppose your publishing this little jeu of a book will do either of us drastic harm.
(BECH: A BOOK, "Foreword", p. 6)

John Updike, THE COMPLETE HENRY BECH, New York, Everyman's Library, 2001 [1970] [1982] [1998] [1999]

DEAR JOHN,
Well, if you must commit the artistic indecency of writing about a writer, better I suppose about me than about you.
(BECH: A BOOK, "Foreword", p. 5)

William Fauklner, MOSQUITOES, New York, Library of America, 2006 [1927]

"You are confusing Art with Studio Life, Mark," Mrs Wiseman told him. She forestalled him and accepted a cigarette. "I'm all out, myself. Sorry. Thanks."
"Why not?" Mark Frost responded. "If studio life costs you enough, it becomes art. You've got to have a good reason to give to your people back home in Ohio or Indiana or somewhere."
"But everybody wasn't born in the Ohio valley, thank God," the semitic man said. Fairchild stared at him, kind and puzzled, a trifle belligerent. "I speak for those of us who read books instead of writing them," he explained. "Its bad enough to grow into the conviction after you reach the age of discretion that you are to spend the rest of your life writing books, but to have your very infancy darkened by the possibility that you may have to write the Great American Novel..."
(p. 457)

William Fauklner, MOSQUITOES, New York, Library of America, 2006 [1927]

Mrs Wiseman came up and borrowed a cigarette of Mark Frost, and they watched Fairchild's burly retreating back. The semitic man said: "There's a man of undoubted talent, despite his fumbling bewilderment in the presence of sophisticated emotions."
"Despite his lack of self assurance, you mean," Mark Frost corrected.
"No, it isn't that," Mrs Wiseman put in. "You mean the same thing that Julius does: - that, having been born an American and of a provincial middle western lower middle class family, he has inherited all the lower middle class's awe of Education with a capital E, an awe which the very fact of his own difficulty in getting to college and staying there, has increased."
"Yes," her brother agreed. "And the reaction which sheer accumulated years and human experience has brought about in him has swung him to the opposite extreme without destroying that ingrained awe or offering him anything to replace it with at all. His writing seems fumbling, not because life is unclear to him, but because of his innate humorless belief that, though it bewilder him at times, life at bottom is sound and admirable and fine; and because hovering over this American scene into which he has been thrust, the ghosts of the Emersons and Lowells and Greelys and other exemplifiers of Education with a capital E, who 'seated on chairs in handsomely carpeted parlors' and surrounded by an atmosphere of halfcalf and security, dominated American letters in its most healty American phase, 'without heat or vulgarity,' simper yet in a sort of ubiquitous watchfulness. A sort of puerile bravado in flouting while he fears," he explained.
"But," his sister said, "for a man like Dawson there is no better American tradition than theirs - if he but knew it. They may have sat among their objects, transcribing their Greek and Latin and holding correspondences across the Atlantic, but they still found time to put out of their New England ports with the word of God in one hand and a belaying pin in the other and all sails drawing aloft; and whatever they fell foul of was American. And, by God, it was American. And is yet."
"Yes," her brother agreed again. "But he lacks what they had at command among their shleves of discreet books and their dearth of heat and vulgarity: - a standard of literature that is international. No, not a standard exactly: a belief, a conviction that his talent need not be restricted to delineating things which his conscious mind assures him are American reactions."
"Freedom?" suggested Mark Frost hollowly.
"No. No one needs freedom. We cannot bear it. He needs only let himself go, let himself forget all his fetich of culture and education which his upbringing and the ghosts of those whom circumstance permitted to reside longer at colleges than himself, and whom despite himself he regards with awe, assure him that he lacks. For by getting himself and his own bewilderment and inhibitions out of the way and by describing, in a manner that even translation cannot injure (as Balzac did) American life as American life is, it will become eternal and timeless despite him. Life everywhere is the same, you know. Manners of living it may be different. - are they not different between adjoining villages? family names, profits on a single field or orchard, work influences - but man's old compulsions, duty and inclination: the axis and the circumference of his squirrel cage, they do not change. Details do not matter, details only entertain us. And nothing that merely entertains us can matter because the things taht entertain us are purely speculative.: prospective pleasures which we probably will not achieve. The other things only surprise us. And he who has stood the surprise of birth, can stand anything."
(p. 453-455)

William Fauklner, MOSQUITOES, New York, Library of America, 2006 [1927]

"The race," said Fairchild, "is playing out. Once we did things with muscles. Then we found out that all creatures didn't have the same kind of muscle, so we invented ways of doing things with sticks and stones. Then somebody invented a way of using shiny trinkets to make the stick-and-stone people do what they wanted them to do. And now the stick-and-stone people are about to get all the shiny trinkets, and so all we have left is words. And that's the last resort. When someone invents a way to produce words without mental process, where will we wordusers be?"
"Whoever invented American politics has already done that," the semitic man said.
"American politics aint universal though," Fairchild answered. "No other nation could afford it. But if the world's awe and belief in words ever does falter..."
"That will be an unfortunate day for you, anyway," the semitic man said.
"Yes?" remarked Fairchild.
"You'll have to go to work."
"Well, I dont object to work."
"Nobody does. On the contrary, in fact. That's the reason you people are so dissatisfied in your perversion. The laborer curses his job; on Saturday night he tells the world that he is through until Monday. But did you ever know a writer to admit that he was not either planning or writing a novel constantly? Or two or three, even?"
Fairchild pondered a while. "Yes, you're right. We do have to say we are writing a new novel wether we are or not."
"Of course you do. Art is against nature: those who choose it are perverts, and in choosing it they cast all things behind them. So to admit that you are not working on something constantly is an admission that your life is temporarily pointless, and so unbearable."
"Yes," repeated Fairchild. "... But why perversion?"
"Perversion?"
"You dont think its natural for man to spend his life making little crooked marks on paper, do you? Doing things with color, or stringing sounds together, now, I grant you..."
The semitic man slapped his neck again.
"God knows," said Fairchild.
(p. 290)

vendredi 13 août 2010

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

Mais l'analyse du discours ne se place pas sur ce terrain. Elle ne propose pas une "lecture" des œuvres parmi d'autres, à côté des "lectures" psychanalytiques, thématiques, etc. Quel sens pourrait-il y avoir de parler d'une "lecture" en termes de discours constituant, de paratopie, de scénographie ou de genre de discours, de structuration textuelle, de cadres de réception, etc.? Il ne s'agit pas de dire ce que signifient les œuvres, mais à quelles conditions le fait littéraire est possible et les textes peuvent s'ouvrir à l'interprétation.
(p. 247)

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

Les œuvres ont beau vider le monde de tout sens et de toute parole, elles ne peuvent empêcher la littérature de s'immiscer dans ce tableau de désolation. Loin d'être la dernière œuvre de Céline, le Voyage est la première... Le monde n'est jamais assez dépourvu de sens pour exclure l'œuvre qui le dit dépourvu de sens. Il y a contradiction insurmontable entre la présence de l'œuvre et les propriétés qu'elle affecte au monde représenté. L'univers de l'Étranger de Camus a beau être décrit comme absurde, il est lourd de tout l'appareil discursif qu'il a fallu mobiliser pour construire son absurdité. L'élaboration esthétique vient ajouter au monde une œuvre dont la compacité, la nécessité intérieure suppléent et contestent la vacuité et la contingence supposées. C'est ce qu'on peut appeler le "paradoxe du phénix", par lequel l'œuvre s'engendre de la destruction qu'elle prétend instaurer.
(p. 232)

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

Une analyse du discours littéraire est au contraire contrainte d'introduire le tiers de l'Institution, de contester ces unités illusoirement compactes que sont le créateur ou la société: non pour affaiblir la part de la création au profit de déterminismes sociaux, mais pour rapporter l'œuvre aux territoires, aux rites, aux rôles qui la rendent possible et qu'elle rend possibles.
(p. 77)

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

Le discours littéraire inclut nombre d'écrivains qui prétendent œuvrer hors de toute appartenance; mais c'est justement une des caractéristique de ce type de discours que de susciter une telle prétention: ces écrivains trouvent leur pendant dans les ermites qui se sont retirés du monde ou les philosophes solitaires. Les "solitaires" peuvent sans doute s'éloigner des villes, mais non sortir de l'espace qui leur confère leur statut et sur lequel ils proposent leurs actes symboliques.
(p. 54)

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

Quand on travaille sur les discours constituants, on a affaire à des structures textuelles fortes et qui prétendent avoir une portée globale, dire quelque chose sur la société, la vérité, la beauté, l'existence... En fait, ces discours de portée globale sont élaborés localement, dans des groupes restreints qui ne s'effacent pas derrière leur production, qui la façonnent à travers leurs propres comportements. Toute étude qui s'interroge sur le mode d'émergence, de circulation et de consommation de discours constituants doit prendre en compte la manière dont fonctionnent les groupes qui les produisent et les gèrent.
(p. 53)

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

Celui qui énonce à l'intérieur d'un discours constituant ne peut se placer ni à l'extérieur ni à l'intérieur de la société: il est voué à nourrir son œuvre du caractère radicalement problématique de sa propre appartenance à cette société. Son énonciation se constitue à travers cette impossibilité même de s'assigner une véritable "place". Localité paradoxale, paratopie, qui n'est pas l'absence de tout lieu, mais une difficile négociation entre le lieu et le non-lieu, une localisation parasitaire, qui vit de l'impossibilité même de se stabiliser.
(p. 52-53)

Dominique Maingueneau, LE DISCOURS LITTÉRAIRE, Paris, Armand Colin, 2004

C'est renoncer au fantasme de l'œuvre en soi, dans sa double acception d'œuvre autarcique et d'oeuvre au fond de la conscience créatrice; c'est restituer les œuvres aux espaces qui les rendent possibles, où elles sont produites, évaluées, gérées. Les conditions du dire y traversent le dit et le dit renvoie à ses propres conditions d'énonciation (le statut de l'écrivain associé à son mode de positionnement dans le champ littéraire, les rôles attachés aux genres, la relation au destinataire construite à travers l'œuvre, les supports matériels et les modes de circulation des énoncés...). Dès lors qu'on ne peut séparer l'institution littéraire et l'énonciation qui configure un monde, le discours ne se replie pas dans l'intériorité d'une intention, il est force de consolidation, vecteur d'un positionnement, construction progressive, à travers un intertexte, d'une certaine identité énonciative et mouvement de légitimation de l'espace même de sa propre énonciation.
(p. 34)

vendredi 6 août 2010

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

There was a mountain of books in front of me, millions of words piled on each other, a whole universe of discarded literature - the books that people no longer wanted, that had been sold, that had outlived their usefulness. I didn't realize it at first, but I happened to be standing in the American fiction section, and right there, at eye level, the first thing I saw when I started to look at the titles, was a copy of The New Colossus, my own little contribution to this graveyard. It was an astonishing coincidence, a thing that hit me so hard I felt it had to be an omen.
Don't ask me why I bought it. I had no intention of reading the book, but once I saw it there on the shelf, I knew I had to have it. The physical object, the thing itself. It cost only five dollars for the original hardcover edition, complete with dust jacket and purple endpapers. And there was my picture on the back flap: the portrait of the artist as a young moron. Fanny took that photo, I remember. I was twenty-six or twenty-seven at the time, with my beard and long hair, and I'm staring into the lens with an unbelievably earnest, soulful expression in my eyes. You've seen that picture, you know the one I'm talking about. When I opened up the book and saw it in the store that day, I almost burst out laughing.
(p. 254-255)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

We'd both become writers, we both knew that fundamental changes were needed - but whereas I started to lose my way, to dither around with half-assed articles and literary pretensions, Dimaggio kept developing, kept moving forward, and in the end he was brave enough to put his ideas to the test. It's not that I think blowing up logging camps is a good idea, but I envied him for having the balls to act. I'd never lifted a finger for anything. I'd sat around grumbling and complaining for the past fifteen years, but for all my self-righteous opinions and embattled stances, I'd never put myself on the line. I was a hypocrite and Dimaggio wasn't, and when I thought about myself in comparison to him, I began to feel ashamed.
(p. 252-253)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

All in all, there are some one hundred and thirty scale-model replicas of the Statue of Liberty standing in public spaces across America. They can be found in city parks, in front of town halls, on the tops of buildings. Unlike the flag, which tends to divide people as much as it brings them together, the statue is a symbol that causes no controversy. If many Americans are proud of their flag, there are many others who feel ashamed of it, and for every person who regards it as a holy object, there is another who would like to spit on it, or burn it, or drag it through the mud. The Statue of Liberty is immune to these conflicts. For the past hundred years, it has transcended politics and ideology, standing at the threshold of our country as an emblem of all that is good within us. It represents hope rather than reality, faith rather than facts, and one would be hard-pressed to find a single person willing to denounce the things it stands for: democracy, freedom, equality under the law. It is the best of what America has to offer the world, and however pained one might be by America's failure to live up to those ideals, the ideals themselves are not in question. They have given comfort to millions. They have instilled the hope in all of us that we might one day live in a better world.
(p. 242)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

This might or might not have been a bluff, but I'm convinced that a part of him had set great store in the possibility of seeing his book turned into a film. Unlike some writers, Sachs bore no grudge against popular culture, and he had never felt any conflict about the project. It wasn't a question of compromising himself, it was an opportunity to reach large numbers of people, and he didn't hesitate when the offer came. Although he never said it in so many words, I sensed that the call from Hollywood had flattered his vanuty, stunning him with a brief, intoxicating whiff of power. It was a perfectly normal response, but Sachs was never easy on himself, and chances are that he later regretted these oberblown dreams of glory and success.
(p. 117)

jeudi 5 août 2010

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

Still, in spite of the fact that he wasn't writing about himself, I understood how deeply personal the book must have been for him. The dominant emotion was anger, a full-blow, lacerating anger that surged up on nearly every page: anger against America, anger against political hypocrisy, anger as a weapon to destroy national myths.
(p. 44)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

He rarely talked about himself the way other writers do, and my sense was that he had little or no interest in pursuing what people refer to as a "literary career." He wasn't competitive, he wasn't worried about his reputation, he wasn't puffed up about his talent. That was one of the things that most appealed to me about him: the purity of his ambitions, the absolute simplicity of the way he approached his work. It sometimes made him stubborn and cantankerous, but it also gave him the courage to do exactly what he wanted to do. After the success of his first novel, he immediately started to write another, but once he was a hundred pages into it, he tore up the manuscript and burned it. Inventing stories was a sham, he said, and just like that he decided to give up fiction writing.
(p. 53-54)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

The practical jokes and renegade antics died out then, and while his academic performance in high school was hardly outstanding [...], he read books constantly and was already beginning to think of himself as a future writer. By his own admission, his first works were awful - "romantico-absurdist soul-searchings," he once called them, wretched little stories and poems that he kept an absolute secret from everyone. But he stuck with it, and as a sign of his growing seriousness, he went out and bought himself a pipe at the age of seventeen. This was the badge of every true writer, he thought, and during his last year of high school he spent every evening sitting at his desk, pen in one hand, pipe in the other, filling his room with smoke.
(p. 34)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

"If I'm not too drunk, I'll start reading it tonight."
"There's no rush. It's only a novel, after all, and you shouldn't take it too seriously."
"I always take novels seriously. Especially when they're given to me by the author."
"Well, this author was very young when he wrote this book. Maybe too young, in fact. Sometimes he feels sorry it was ever published."
"But you were planning to read from it this afternoon. You can't think it's that bad, then."
"I'm not saying it's bad, I'm saying it's young, that's all. Too literary, too full of its own cleverness. I wouldn't even dream of writing something like that today. If I have any interest in it now, it's only because of where it was written. The book itself doesn't mean much, but I suppose I'm still attached to the place where it was born."
"And what place was that?"
"Prison. I started writing the book in prison."
(p. 21-22)

Paul Auster, LEVIATHAN, New York, Penguin Books, 1992

"I used to be here, but then I went away. I just got back five or six months ago."
"And where were you?"
"France. I lived there for close to five years."
"That explains it, then. But why on earth would you want to live in France?"
"No particular reason. I just wanted to be somewhere that wasn't here."
"You didn't go to study? You weren't working for UNESCO or some hot-shot international law firm?"
"No, nothing like that. I was pretty much living hand to mouth."
"The old expatriate adventure, was that it? Young American writer goes off to Paris to discover culture and beautiful women, to experience the pleasure of sitting in cafés and smoking strong cigarettes."
"I don't think it was that either. I felt I needed some breathing room, that's all. I picked France because I was able to speak French. If I spoke Serbo-Croatian, I probably would have gone to Yugoslavia."
"So you went away. For no particular reason, as you put it. Was there any particular reason why you came back?"
"I woke up one morning last summer and told myself it was time to come home. Just like that. I suddenly felt I'd been there long enough. Too many years without baseball, I suppose. If you don't get your ration of double plays and home runs, it can begin to dry up your spirit."
(p. 17)