Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi
NEXT ISSUE: 21 (1/2018): CREDINŢĂ ŞI TRĂDARE m FAITH AND TREASON m FOI ET TRAHISON
VIS ŞI REALITATE
DREAM AND REALITY
RÊVE ET RÉALITÉ
Acta Iassyensia Comparationis
Vis şi realitate Dream and reality
Rêve et réalité
Dedicat lumilor de vis şi legăturilor lor complicate cu realitatea, numărul curent al revistei AIC (20, 2/2017) reuneşte autori de pe patru continente, ale căror articole (abordări inedite ale temei VIS ŞI REALITATE) ilustrează diver- sitatea domeniilor lor de interes: de la literatură universală la jurnalism, de la filozofie şi antropologie la traducerile literare. Căutarea visătorilor de ei întreprinsă acoperă o perioadă mai mult decât generoasă, din Antichitate până în secolul al XXI-lea, in- vitând cititorul la o întâlnire incitantă cu mari scriitori şi mari proiecte de vis din tre- cut şi prezent.
Dédié aux mondes de rêve et à leurs liens complexes avec la réalité, le numéro actuel d’AIC (20, 2/2017) réunit des auteurs de quatre continents, dont les articles (traitements inédits du thème RÊVE ET RÉALITÉ) illustrent la diversité de leurs domaines d’intérêt: de la littérature universelle au journalisme, de la philoso- phie et de l’anthropologie aux études de traduction. Leur quête de rêveurs couvre une période plus que généreuse, de l’Antiquité au XXIèmesiècle, en invitant le lecteur à une rencontre provocante avec de grands écrivains et de grands projets de rêve du passé et du présent.
Exploring dream worlds and their intricate connections to reality, the current issue of AIC (20, 2/2017) brings together authors from four continents, whose approaches to the DREAM AND REALITY theme illustrate their diverse areas of interest: from world literature to journalism, from philosophy and anthro- pology to translation studies. Their quest for dreamers covers a more than generous span of time, from Antiquity to the 21stcentury, inviting the reader to a provocative meeting with great writers and great dream projects from the past and present.
nr. 20AIC 2/2017
Angela Gustafsson Whyland Schwab’s ImaginaryEthnographies:
Inspiring a Student’s Wanderings through Familiar Literary Texts
and the Development of New Subjectivities...1
Imaginary Forests with Real Foxes in Them...9
Limites physiques dans le monde du rêve chez Théophile Gautier...19
Inteligenţa artificială visează la jurnalism. Imparţialitatea algo ritmilor în relatările despre o lume nouă (de la singularitatea lui Kurzweil la Deep Mind şi Quill) ...25
Guilioh Merlain Vokeng Ngnintedem
De l’onirique et du réalisme comme deux topiques adversatives au XIXème
siècle : Le cas de Madame Bovary de Gustave Flaubert...35
Silvana N. Fernández
Más allá de la “etnografía de rescate” y los relatos de viajeros: los espacios
imaginados en Lord Jim yNostromo de Joseph Conrad...45
Lumina care devorează lumea. Eseu despre orbire...55
Marcel Béalu : Fantastiqueur des fantasmes et réaliste du rêve...63
L’uomo, l’artista e lo spettatore nell’opera di Pirandello...71
Translating Cărtărescu’s Dream-World in Mentardy:
A Functionalist Model of Translation Analysis...79
Marius-Adrian Hazaparu, Teoria şi practica reportajului. O abordare
din perspectiva funcţiilor limbajului...87
Doina Mihaela Popa (coord.), La Rencontre ou le moment zéro du narratif...91 Iulia Andreea Milică
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Femeile şi economicul, Tărâmul-ei, Tapetul galben...93
Schwab’s Imaginary Ethnographies:
Inspiring a Student’s Wanderings through Familiar Li terary Texts and the Development of New
ANGELA GUSTAFSSON WHYLAND Southern New Hampshire University
Reading, because we control it, is adaptable to our needs and rhythms. We are free to indulge our subjective associative impulse;
the term I coin for this is deep reading: the slow and meditative possession of a book. We don’t just read the words, we dream our lives in their vicinity. The printed page becomes a kind of wrought- iron fence we crawl through, returning, once we have wandered, to the very place we started.
(Sven Birkerts) When I first read the proposed theme for this issue and thought about Schwab’s Imaginary Ethnographies, I was struck by the similarity between Schwab’s realizations about reading, and my own recent, driven rereading of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos science fiction/fantasy series1, set in the semi-fictional world of Dragaera. The ques- tions that Schwab poses, and Schwab’s experiences reading Buck’s Peony, had me fo- cused more than I normally would on why Brust’s series is such a touchstone for me as a reader. Then, looking back outward to other readers, I wondered, how does reading, as a kind of dreaming, potentially change our views of self, and perhaps change how we interact with our “reality”, our lived world, and what that could be?2 I have chosen to discuss the works of Steven Brust, who has not yet been a part of academic conversation, in the hopes of opening up those existing conversations to the many other creative works of speculative fiction.
Keywords: autoethnography; imaginary ethnography; language and Reader Response Multiculturalism; reading and identity; speculative fiction; student engagement.
1 AIC nr. 20 2/2017
1Brust’s next book in this series, Vallista, will be released October 2017. Brust is an American author best known for The New York Times‐bestselling Vlad Taltos series (1983‐current), which incorporates a wide variety of storytelling styles and genres. He is also the author of a second series of novels set in the world of the Vlad books, the Khaavren Romances, narrated by a mixed species historian in a style which strongly resembles that of the popular works of Alexandre Dumas. Other novels by Brust in‐
clude To Reign in Hell (1984), Brokedown Palace(1986), The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars(1987), The Gypsy(1992, with Megan Lindholm), Freedom and Necessity(1997, with Emma Bull), and new The In‐
crementalistsseries (2013, 2017, with Skylar White). Brust has a new standalone novel, tentatively ti‐
tled Good Guys, with a potential release date of March 2018.
While literary criticism has very old roots, arguably, at least back to Plato and current research is often engaged with why people write3, why people read, and what hap- pens when they read is a field of study that is much more recent. As such, it is an area that could have great potential for enabling researchers to develop new understanding of the importance of reading in how each of us is drawn to reading as a way of renegotiating our world and our identity within that world. In 2007, cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf pub- lished a provocative work on the history of the reading brain, and what happens in the brain when people read. Wolf, like Schwab, sees a need for further discussion on the topic4. One of Wolf ’s points is that reading changes the individual brain, both neurologically and intellectually (2007: 5), which supports the saying that writing can potentially change the world, one brain at a time. If so, doesn’t that possibility make it even more important to understand what happens when people read and what draws readers to works of speculative fiction, a genre that is today enjoying an unprecedented renaissance5?
In reading Schwab, I realized that I am drawn to reading fantastic fiction because that reading creates a unique space for me to not just enjoy a story but also engage with concerns about who I am, plus reexamine the world outside myself. Speculative fiction, commonly known as the genre of “what if ?” is uniquely suited to this quest. In the fantastical world, the reader is invited to en- gage with the possibility that the impossible could also become real. Within the pages of a book, we can explore the meaning of alien/human connection, or the othered, examine the possibilities of engagement with the alien inside, and extend that examination to the differences of those around ourselves. This may change the way we look at not just others, but the way we interpret our own stories. We can also wonder how the discoveries made within the dream space of reading might become actualized in our lived lives, or what we might term “the real”, how we are changed by reading and then how we can create change6.
In light of the connection between genre, Schwab and theme, I have chosen to discuss the works of Steven Brust, who has not yet been a part of academic conversation, in the hopes of opening up those existing conversations to the many other creative works of speculative fiction.
2In the past, I have engaged with texts in a variety of periods and genres, most often using a postmod‐
ernist approach based in the works of Lyotard, Baudrillard, Hutcheon and Klein. More recently, I’ve ex‐
plored narrative theory using the work of researchers like McAdams and McClean, along with the autoethnographic work of Carolyn Ellis, and others in this ﬁeld, connecting those theories to my own expe‐
riences of writing and teaching. This essay is a new departure for me as a researcher. I hope it is interesting to readers and I am very grateful to the journal for suggesting such an evocative theme in tandem with Schwab’s book, which encouraged me to explore what happens when we read.
3In terms of the importance of writing to individuals, see, for example, McAdams and McLean, who state that “narrative (written) identity is a person’s internalized and evolving life story, integrating the recon‐
structed past and imagined future to provide life with some degree of unity and purpose. In recent studies on narrative identity, researchers have paid a great deal of attention to psychological adaptation and (fur‐
ther) development” of personal identity, and the role that writing plays in this process (2013: 233).
4Wolf says, “I have lived my life in the service of words: ﬁnding where they hide in the convoluted recesses of the brain, studying their layers of meaning and form, and teaching their mysteries to the young. In these pages, I invite you to ponder the profoundly creative quality at the heart of reading words” (2007: IX). Wolf is also concerned with questions about enabling reading for brains that are wired diﬀerently for language, along with questions about what the growth and eﬀects of reading digital communication. The latter point connects her work to that of Birketts. Both issues are important to be aware of, but beyond the scope of this essay.
5Although this paper examines reading novels, the renaissance itself includes responses like fan ﬁction and crosses the borders between written media and other forms of story, including TV series, movies and game playing.
6According to Wolf, “…the reading brain is part of highly successful two‐way dynamics. Reading can be learned only because of the brain’s plastic (evolving) design, and when reading takes place, that individual brain is forever changed, both physiologically and intellectually” (2007: 5). Implied, is that this change is ongoing.
What follows looks at three ways that Brust’s novels impel the creation of Schwab’s unique dream space: use of “alien” cultures, historical reassessment and the impact of language on a reader’s interaction with text. This essay examines Brust’s science fiction/fantasy Dragaera series, with particular focus on the back story trilogy that engages with the novels of Père Dumas7. Like Schwab’s Imaginary Ethnographies, what follows will include an auto-ethnographic approach. Birketts says that, after reading, we return to the same place. But when Birketts says that we “dreamour lives in their [stories] vicinity”, implied is that we return changed in how we view ourselves within our place of reality and the potential for our reading dream to change what our world’s reality could become (Schwab, 1997: 108-109). As Eller notes in a review of Imaginary Ethnographies, Schwab:
…insists, rightly I believe, that the ultimate or most important function of both (genres of writing) is ‘transformational’, consisting “less in providing information than in facilitating the emergence of new forms of being in language, thought, emo- tion, and ultimately life, including the emergence of new subjectivities, socialities, communalities, and relationalities” [Schwab, 2012:] (5). In short, then, Schwab is
“interested in howliterature records, translates, and (re)shapes the internal processing of culture”, a process that she links to “perturbation” or the challenging of pre- existing thoughts and feelings through exposure to the “new, strange, or incom- mensurable” [Schwab, 2012:] (7). (Eller, 2013: No page)
Brust’s Dragaera series is a bit unusual even in the realm of science fiction and fantasy liter- ature, because the series blends both8, breaking into a liminal space between perceived genres.
This is one “perturbation” of perceived realities. But the series also constantly either alludes to or reexamines an older history, engages with what it means to be human or alien or both and ad- ditionally, shifts the reader out of our normal way of being by the use of an older mode of speech hybridized with modern language. In doing these three things together, Brust destabilizes our preconceptions of culture, history, language and our preconceived bases of humanity. The result of this reshaping, for the reader, is to facilitate a new way of looking at the world. Let’s begin by looking first at Brust’s consideration of what it means to be alien, as a transformational tool in creating the dream space of the “new, strange or incommensurable” (Schwab, 2012: 7), by con- sidering an even older subject, the dissolved border space between human and animal.
What Do We Dream About When We Dream About Being Alien?
um dich zu sehen: hingetragen, als wäre mit Sprüngen jeder Lauf geladen und schösse nur nicht ab, solang der Hals das Haupt im Horchen hält: wie wenn beim Baden im Wald die Badende sich unterbricht:
ANGELA GUSTAFSSON WHYLAND 3
7The Pheonix Guardsis, in part, a reengagement with Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. As noted, for this essay, I have consciously chosen primary works which are not considered within the academic community but rather exist without, having captured the popular imagination. Brust’s books have made The New York Times Best Seller’s list twice. The Three Musketeers, while rarely read today in the original translation, is one of the most frequently re‐envisioned texts in other forms of media, initially in plays and then later, movies, TV series, children’s cartoons, anime and comics.
8This is not entirely unprecedented, but unusual. Most modern fantasy draws on older stories, such as myth, fairy or folk tales set in the present. Most SF, while it may contain the motifs of fantasy or myth (George Lucas’s Star Warsseries, inﬂuenced by Joseph Campbell), may be the most popularly known of these, and is generally set in a ﬁctional future. Brust’s trilogy engages with a seminal period in the history of his larger future set series, prompted by a work easily recognized by his readers in our world, Dumas’s Musketeers trilogy. While unusual, this isn’t entirely unknown; Neil Gaiman incorporated many historical referents in his The Sandmangraphic novels and Kim Newman engaged with a somewhat similar concept in his alternate history, Anno Draculaseries. One outcome of this is a referent to older works of SF, some of which explored the discovery of civilizations that had ceased to exist. Andre Norton’s work come to mind but there are many others.
den Waldsee im gewendeten Gesicht9.
(Rainer Maria Rilke, “Die Gazelle”)
Rilke’s poem asks that we consider the interplay between what it means to be human, and what it means to be other. The gazelle10is all potential of action yet deeply connected to the nat- ural world. Her slender legs of running represent not just physicality but the element of choice.
In the choice of whether to run away from the other or seek connection, her potential actions are not unlike our own. At the end, the natural world is reflected back into her own face, and she, now perceived as having a face, then turns to meet our own human eyes. In this dream space of the fantasy encounter, we become her and are asked what that means. Likewise, much of tradi- tional science fiction and fantasy involves contact with another species, another potential way of being, in which we’re often asked to consider what it means to be human.
Brust’s series raises this important question, too. Dragaera is a fictional world, possibly set in an alternate human future, in which a more scientifically advanced alien species (AAS) has ex- perimented with blending human genes perhaps with those of the AAS, and the native Dragaeran race, with native Dragaeran animal genes (Brust, 1999: Ch. 9). What exactly was done by the AAS, and how, are questions that remain unresolved because the reader’s knowledge is limited by that of the characters, much like our own knowledge is limited by experience). The new Dragaeran species calls itself “human”, while the remaining race is seen as “othered”. The “others” are what we recognize as the descendants of the human settlers. Dragaerans call the humans “Easterners”, and the Easterners’ position within the Dragaeran society is ironically below that of the lowest Dragaeran genetic family groups (Teckla, which are native Dragaeran field rodents). Dragaerans in this series view humans as the sub-human other.
Like the iconic taboo of cannibalism, in which human flesh is consumed and then becomes sustenance material incorporated into the consumer11, genetic intermingling also has a history of being taboo. While an argument could be made that the resulting Dragaeran species is obviously stronger, it may be more interesting to look at the psychic components. The Dragaerans represent a deeper penetration and intermingling, affecting not just the body, but the nature of the resulting individual, which also resonates with talismanic ideas of communion, seen such classic works of science fiction as Robert Heinlein’s A Stranger in a Strange Land. Dragaerans not only self-identify as families with their genetically infused and totem animals, but display characteristics associated with those animals. When characters asked as individuals to identify when they are happiest, the character associated with Yendi identifies those moments when crafty plans bear fruit; the Dzur, battle against overwhelming odds; the Lyorn, moments of husbandry and duty fulfilled (Brust, 2011).
In my own not unemotional rereading of this series, I was connected to my deepest, sheltered place of fear, that of my own nature (Schwab, 1997: 116, 118). While I wish to identify with the most dutiful of Lyorn, most brave of Dragons and most noble of Phoenixes, my fear is that my nature is that of Athyra, who pursue knowledge at the expense of other individuals (Brust; Why- land, 2017; Kay, 2015). Or as Neil Gaiman puts the thought in the Afterword of Sethra Lavode, paraphrasing, that my studies have caused me to live in the aether of the attic of a broke down house, away from other people, hoping that the “bats will teach me how to fly” (Brust, 2011: Lo- cation 6617). While this may not be an earth shattering realization, it was for me. The crawling back through the fence from reading dream space into the real world, changed, is one that would
9So that he may see you: carried about as if/each slender leg were charged with leaps,/not to be ﬁred as long as the neck/ holds the head high in listening: as when, while/ bathing in a dark forest, the bather in‐
terrupts herself:/ the forest pool still reﬂected in her turning face (trans. Cliﬀ Crego).
10Without knowing if Rilke was familiar with Sir Thomas Wyatt’s “Whoso List to Hunt”, for a literary scholar it is hard not to draw a connection with this older poem. In both cases, in terms of this essay, the question becomes who is the deer, and what does that mean in our own quest for identity.
11This could lead to some interesting political and Marxist arguments for future researchers, which are be‐
yond the scope of this essay.
not have occurred without the exposure to Schwab’s writing, which then permeated my reading of The Phoenix Guards, 500 Years Afterand The Viscount of Adrilankha. Now, I recognize that I am drawn to a variety of texts which allow me to explore, and renegotiate my own fears of being both self and othered.
What Do We Dream About When We Re‐Dream Our History?
Schwab, scrutinizes throughout Imaginary Ethnographieshow we, as readers within the liminal space of a fictional text, are encouraged to think about what it means to be self and other/alien.
Next, I’d like to mention, briefly, the cultural implications of Schwab’s discussion of Butler, as that pertains to reconsideration of human history, and human failure as genetically predisposed, along with her discussion of children as representative of future. I’d like to suggest that the hid- den, feared, sheltered kernel of self, that reading allows us to enter into the border diffused space of reading is also the child self. I’d also like to ask if that kernel isn’t the place where we first found ourselves in conflict with the external world. As a student, this leads to consideration of how my child self may influence my actions and also how children represent the potential for a different future. But another effect of reading, is how I might now look beyond self to the larger world around me, not solely in my relationship of self to others, but to human culture and per- ceptions of history.
Brust wrote of history that, “... my memory differs from the legends, and I am not certain that the legends are not more accurate” (Brokedown Palace, 1986: 37). Each time we read a text, we engage with our historical understanding of that text, our history. In my renegotiation with self through the mediation of the text, I am better able to understand how the text becomes part of the new construction which I take into the world. I am also then able to see that Brust’s imagined ethnography creates this fantasy place which fulfills a creative impulse of self which is then transferred into my new self in the world. I can also see this effect propagated many times, in many other readers, becoming a social and cultural force (Schwab, 2012: 56, 46). There is a tendency to then wish to apply this realization to my understanding of received history and story, as that attracts others to popular fiction. From there, Brust’s reflection on Dumas’s work, a work which was, itself, a translated and rewritten popular story, provides this ground directly.
The trilogy becomes a back story written for Brust’s main Vlad Taltos Dragaeran series, which we, readers, experience as an imaginary ethnography occurring in our present, although possibly set in the future, a destabilization of the boundary of time. Since the blended human/alien race in this series lives for thousands of years, older characters, and – by impli- cation – their story lines influence the current time/emerging history both by how their stories are perceived by younger characters and also through their concurrent appearance in the fuller series which is written as if it were happening today. So, the main Vlad Taltos series contains within itself a destabilization of the sense of self within history and a destabilization of an in- dividual’s sense of culture and history as transferred from other chosen cultural objects12.
Whereas the history captured in objects in a museum, a written history, or external meta- narratives are usually static, the experience of reading a fantastic fiction becomes a creative ANGELA GUSTAFSSON WHYLAND 5
12In conversation with Brust on the genetic traits of the house of Athyra, for example, as listed on the ex‐
cellent website about the series by Kay, I questioned the house trait of being willing to use others for per‐
sonal gain. Brust’s reply that the trait captured was Vlad’s point of view, which was limited, led in part to this line of thinking. The shifts in Vlad’s perceptions of this trait, of course, are a central point in Athyra (1993). But the entire Vlad series plays around with perceptions of history and knowledge. The books, if read in publication order, jump back and forth within the temporality of Vlad’s life, as experienced by the character. Further, the reader knows from the ﬁrst book published in the series, Jhereg(1984) that Vlad’s soul is a reincarnation of Dolivar, the rebel brother of the Dragaeren Empire’s founder. Ironically, given this paper, I just discovered that Vlad’s discovery of his past occurs during a discussion of the relationship be‐
tween genetics and soul (Ch. 9, np).
process. A colleague of Brust, John M. Ford suggests in fantasy poems such as “Troy: The Movie”13, that what we know of human history is often those parts that resonate personally with our internalized stories and which are mediated by cultural objects. In Ford’s case, the object is a fictional modern movie on the fall of Troy, another popular subject for reinterpretation, like the popularity of the many renditions of Dumas’s musketeers. These two fictional subjects, conjoined, yield a consideration of the historical fall of human cultures, the place of the individual within the history and the created place of story in mediating our perceptions. Brust suggests that our creation of truth is as an ongoing process, in which we continually re-evaluate history and legend and potentially determine a new subjectivity.
Brust’s consideration of a past historical imaginary ethnography for Dragaera, which begins in The Phoenix Guards, is focused on four main characters, recognizable as iconic reiterations of Dumas’s musketeers, yet these heroes are the quasi-alien Dragaerans. Porthos is the brave Dzur, Tazendra14; Athos is the honorable Lyorn, Aerich; Aramis is the crafty Yendi, Pell and D’Artangan, the initially youthful Tiassa, Khavren15. So while reminding the reader of the question of alien and human, Brust blends this question into the now iconic three musketeers’ story. The reader is simultaneously in his/her own real time and yet, is taken back in time, through the story, into dream space, to an experience in which characters both resonate with the iconic figures and yet live a narrative that is altered from Dumas’s story, in terms of actual events. From this position of both the recognized and the destabilized, it is difficult to return from the imaginary world that Brust develops and not begin to re-examine our history, chosen cultural objects and ask if events are truly inevitable. Although the events of the series do lead to a cataclysmic disaster, that disaster is mitigated, and the question of what the future holds for the remaining characters, and their children, is left open. Within Brust’s imagined world, the reader is first asked to consider what is alien and then, how our conceptions of history inform our consideration of alien and what is truth.
What Eﬀect Can Language Play in Developing an Imaginary Ethnography
Within the science fiction and fantasy genres, the contact with an alien culture often includes the development of fictional languages. But what happens when the alien language is our own, and it is alien to us only because it is a form of language that might, otherwise, be lost in history.
This subject came up unexpectedly in email interviews with the author, done as a part of re- searching this paper. Part of that conversation, used with permission of the author, and which demonstrates an effect of reading that lives beyond the reading itself, is below:
Whyland: Why did you think no one would want to read it [The Phoenix Guards]?
Brust: Writing styles change with time, and with developments in the world.
The style of the 19th Century romantics is out of fashion; literature has moved on. That’s why I was surprised anyone else wanted to read it.
Whyland: [But] in terms of that writing style, didn’t the narrator’s [Parfi’s]
voice, then get picked up by others to play around with in conversation?
Brust: Yeah, I think voice is the right term. And, yeah, I notice other people
13From the lines, “History is the draping of the layers/Into a Time that makes some human sense:/Troy is a hill built on seven cities, The ﬂies in amber are taxonomized./ The past is the interleave of Time and His‐
tory,/ A garment woven for the muse to dance in;/ Now modestly drawn close, now ﬂashing us a view/ Of something secret that inﬂames the senses” Ford, “Troy: The Movie”).
14It is a hallmark of Brust’s series that another cultural stereotype that is frequently destabilized is gender.
So, the brawny Porthos is rendered here, as the name suggests, as a woman.
15Khavren is the main viewpoint character of the history and ages within the course of the trilogy. The character, and his son, the Viscount of Adrilankha, also appear later, and interact directly with Vlad, which makes permeable concepts of linear time.
picking it up in conversation. Me too. It’s delightful. (Brust and Gustafsson Whyland, 2017)
Schwab states that “[Writing] uses language to explore, shape, and generate emergent forms of subjectivity, culture, and life in processes of dialogical exchange with its readers” (2012: 2).
While it may seem obvious that stories must use language to dialogue with readers, Schwab’s statement implies the possibility that changing the expected language of the dialogue used in the story, might be a way to create unique imaginary ethnographies, which create, in turn, unique ef- fects on the reader. Brust uses a blend of dialogue style which mixes modern English with an older period form of polite language play, common to Dumas’s 19th century trilogy. In many dialogues between Brust’s characters, and usually when there is important information to be con- veyed (that may be known to the reader, but is unknown to one of the dialogue partners), the characters become involved in an exchange that slows the pace and builds the tension while we wait. In my own words, the conversation might run like this:
I have a message for you from Khavren.
What a message, you say?
Yes, a message.
Well, what is the message?
What, you want to know the message?
By the horse! I have been asking for nothing else for over an hour.
Well, it is my pleasure to do so.
And here, then, it is.
(Hands over the message.)
In addition to slowing the reader, and placing him/her in an older form of dialogue blended with modern speech patterns, fixity of language, too, becomes semi-permeable. Further, this type of dialogue, as you might note, has a sing-songy rhythm that is in itself seductive, much like one cannot get a catchy tune out of one’s head. While Brust may have been surprised about his writ- ing’s popularity, the mode or mood developed is one that stays with the reader after the story is finished.
Along with supporting Schwab’s realizations about the importance of imaginary ethnogra- phies, hopefully this paper has, while being extremely far from definitive, peeked reader’s interest about the possibilities of reading non-traditional texts. This paper has wandered through other writing, than just Brust’s and Schwab’s, showing how conjoining a new (to me) literary theory with a very familiar popular story series can inspire students to make new connections. I, too, have crawled back through the fence of reading both Schwab and Brust, to find myself slipping into this other language as a mode of occasionally being, and during those times remembering other parts of the story, coming to new realizations about the story within the real world space of my own lived experiences and new realizations about my experiences. The story, through its play with the alien, the reconsideration of history and new modes of expression, has dissolved boundaries between preconceived form, identity, the other, history, truth and subjectivity of ex- perience, to make the dream space of story live outside of the object.
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FORD, John M. (1997). Troy: The Movie. In John M. FORD & Neil GAIMAN, From the End of the Twentieth Century. Framingham, Massachusetts: Nesfa Pr. Retrieved from Christopher COBB (29 April 2002). Review. “Scrabble with God”. Fiction with John M. Ford: The Unpredictable Pleasures of From the End of the Twentieth Century and The Last Hot Time. Strange Horizons.
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2002/20020429/scrabble_with_god.shtml. [Last accessed 21 May, 2017.]
KAY, Alexx (2015). Principles of Analysis. In The Dragaera Timeline: A History of Draegara. Ver- sion 2.1 http://www.panix.com/~alexx/dragtime.html#UnreliableNarrators. [Last accessed 25 May, 2017].
McADAMS, Dan P. & McLEAN, Kate C. (2013). Narrative Identity. Current Directions in Psy- chological Science, 22, 3, 233-238.
RILKE, Rainer Maria (1911). Die Gazelle (Grazella dorcas). In Neue Gedichte. Leipzig: Insel- Verlag.
RILKE, Rainer Maria. The Gazelle (G[r]azella dorcas). Translated by Cliff CREGO.
http://picture-poems.com/rilke/features/alderspring.html [Last accessed: 30 June 2017].
SCHWAB, Gabriele (2001). Cultural Texts and Endopsychic Scripts. SubStance, 94/95, 160-177.
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WOLF, Maryanne (2007). Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. New York: Harper Perennial.
Imaginary Forests with Real Foxes in Them
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Iaşi
Under a title unerringly reminiscent of Marianne Moore’s modernist manifesto in
“Poetry” (1921) ‒good, real modern poets should give us “imaginary gardens with real toads in them”‒, this paper follows the journey or quest of the fox (particu- larly Vulpes vulpes) from Aesop (tentatively) to the “fox poems” of Mark Jarman, Lucille Clifton, Philip Levine, John Clare, Kenneth Patchen, W.S. Merwin, Mary Oliver, Rita Dove, Adrienne Rich, Ted Hughes (whose “Thought-Fox” may have been the starting point ‒“I imagine this… forest…” ‒of our own quest) and Brendan Kennelly; a journey that takes us from the image of the real animal, its many lives and deaths (metempsychosis is evoked), to that of dreams, thoughts, and poems embodying it (or simply mentioning it). The succession of authors and poems is not chronological, but rather as required by the various stages of this fic- tional journey.
Keywords: fox; journey/quest; dream; thought; imagination.
Animal literature, by which we mean literature with or about animals, is too vast a sub- ject to accept the confines of a limited paper. So what we had to do from the very beginning was to operate a number of “narrowings-down”: the first was that of choosing just one animal ‒a choice made easier by the multitude of occurrences the fox has had in world literature and world cultures; the second consisted in the decision of focusing on more or less recent literature (19th century to the present); and the third brought us down to poetry, though a few highly challenging works in other genres could have claimed one’s attention; suffice it to mention, for instance, D.H. Lawrence’s 1922 extremely interesting novella The Foxor Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play The Little Foxes, that has its thematic clue in a passage (about little foxes, nat- urally) from the Biblical “Song of Solomon” (2:15) ‒“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom”.
Even so, we found ourselves confronted with a host of fox or fox-related poems in English:
an Internet search gave us no less than fifty results with the tag “FOX” (as poems), and “The Fox” as a title used by fifteen or so authors (from Walter Scott, Robert Burns, John Clare, J.G.
Whittier, to Emily Dickinson, a couple of poems William Butler Yeats, Walter de la Mare, Siegfried Sassoon, a cat poem –“Old Deuteronomy” ‒by T.S. Eliot, Sexton’s “The Double Image”, Geoffrey Dutton, Kenneth Patchen, Roger Mitchell, Dean Young, Richard Jones, Gre- gory Corso, Amy Newman or Susan Stewart, and the list continues). Plus there are four La Fontaine “fox fables” (in case we ignore the temporal and linguistic self-imposed restrictions),
“The Swamp Fox” by William Gilmore Simms, “The Crow and the Fox” by Robert Graves, “Fox Blood” by James Dickey, “Fox Farm” by Jim Harrison, “The Grey Fox” by Gregory Orr, “Fox Sleep” by W. S. Merwin…
Becoming a little more systematic, especially after having come upon the name of Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695), translated into English, among others, by none other than Marianne Moore, we felt we needed to go as far back as Aesop (who may or may not have lived c. 620-564 B.C.), but whose name appears, nonetheless, in Herodotus, Plutarch, Sophocles, Aristophanes and Ar-
9 AIC nr. 20 2/2017
istotle and is the hero of at least three 20th century novels by George S. Hellman, A. D. White and John Vornholt.
In Aesop’s “tales” the fox appears again many more times than his other animals (frog, lion, snake, wolf, ass, bear, mouse, dog or crow) and is the protagonist of such famous fables as “The Fox and the Weasel”, “The Ape and the Fox”, “The Fox and the Sick Lion”, “The Fox and the Stork”, “The Fox and the Mask”, “The Fox, the Cock, and the Dog”, “The Fox and the Mosqui- toes”, “The Fox without a Tail”, “The Fox and the Goat”, “The Lion, the Fox, and the Beasts”, and the best known of them all, “The Fox and the Crow” and “The Fox and the Grapes”. One also remembers Chaucer’s nun’s and priest’s tales, Ben Jonson’s Volpone, Jean the la Fontaine again and his refashioned Aesop fables, Brer (sic) Fox in J. Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus, then Frank Baum (The Road to Oz, 1909), David Garnett (Lady into Fox, 1922), Elizabeth Hand, Phillip Don- nelly, George Saunders… “The Fox and the Grapes” has come, for instance, to be seen as illus- trating the concept of cognitive dissonance (one cannot help taking a bow here), two big words for a moral that simply says “It is easy to despise what you cannot get”. (In 1983 Jon Ester pub- lished a whole scholarly volume on Sour Grapes. Studies in the Subversion of Rationality.)
As far as the concept of “fable” is concerned, one could arguably sustain that all poetry has a fable component in it, even when it does not feature animals (a must for real, classical fables); here we can conveniently remember that William Faulkner decided to spend more than a decade to write A Fable(1954), a novel about Jesus during World War II under the guise of Corporal Stephan.
Other well-known “fabulists” would have to include, in the Anglo-American space, Ambrose Bierce, James Thurber, George Orwell, George Ade, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Richard Adams, Bill Willingham, William March, Ramsey Wood… ; or, elsewhere, Hans Christian Andersen, Leo Tol- stoy, Franz Kafka, Sholem Aleichem, Jose Saramago, Italo Calvino… Very good company, indeed.
Our own “fables” for this paper are thus chosen as to present an imaginary journey or quest that the fox (the concept, the image, the archetype, the projection) takes in poems as different as those of Mark Jarman, Lucille Clifton, Philip Levine, John Clare, Kenneth Patchen, W. S. Merwin, Dean Young, Mary Oliver, Rita Dove, Adrienne Rich, Ted Hughes, and Brendan Kennelly (the order was dictated by the various aspects of the quest itself). Here, again, discriminations are in order. Not only do fox species differ in color (from pearly white to black-and-white, to grey, red and auburn; but never completely black, though), but they also change pelts according to the change in seasons (by molting) and to stages of its life; so the real fox goes through many forms, colors, ages and… lives.
If in real life (whatever that may be or mean) foxes are assimilated to dogs, or jackals, or wolves and some of their seven genera and twenty-five species may appear as endangered, in fic- tion their journey is a magical one, because such a character goes from being a wild or urban fox, it can enter the life of a man ‒or poet, for that matter ‒, survive hunts and other pursuits, live several lives itself and turn into a dream, a memory, a thought, or… a poem.
Appropriately enough, this fictional fox’s journey begins in the morning ‒or so thinks Mark Jarman (b. 1952) in his 1990 “Fox Days”:
The fox appears on brisk, uncluttered mornings And hops over the neighbor’s wall with a cat’s grace And looks back from the bottom of the drive On four red legs and trots off down the street.
This is one of the red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that have been inhabiting and breeding in human populated areas since the 20thcentury; i.e. what several authors decided to call “urban foxes” (see, for instance, a thirty-year old book titled Urban Foxes, 1986, by Stephen Harris).
Once the quest is on its way, it can go on until evening and night ‒African-American Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) in “Telling Our Stories”:
The fox came every evening to my door asking for nothing, my fear
trapped me inside, hoping to dismiss her but she sat till morning, waiting.
A vixen, therefore, in a woman’s poem; appearing in many cultures, especially in folklore, foxes have been depicted as symbols of cunning and trickery (with magical powers very often), or as mystical and sacred creatures (Asian folklore); so, no wonder the speaker in the poem is scared:
Child, I tell you it was not
the animal blood I was hiding from, it was the poet in her, the poet and the terrible stories she could tell.
And that poem could also have been Philip Levine’s (1928-2015):
I think I must have lived
once before, not as a man or woman but as a small, quick fox pursued through fields of grass and grain by ladies and gentlemen on horseback…
…Yes, I must have been that unseen fox whose breath sears the thick bushes and whose eyes burn like opals in the darkness, who humps…
softened by moonlight and goes on feeling the steady measured beat of his foxheart like a wordless delicate song, and the quick forepaws choosing the way unerringly and the thick furred body following while the tail flows upward.
Levine’s fox already takes us into the mysterious world of metempsychosis or palingenesis (“being born again”), the religion and theosophy of reincarnation or Rudolf Steiner’s anthropos- ophy, into that of Orphism, post-life recall or Carl Gustav Jung’s cryptomnesia. As a 19thcentury peasant poet had shown (John Clare, 1793-1864, in his “The Fox”, 1820), the fox’s life journey can take him/her into old age (even more cunning and more of a survivor then), but it does not die, except in disguise, only to be “born again”:
The old fox started from his dead disguise:
And while the dog lay panting in the sedge He up and snapt and bolted through the hedge…
He scampered to the bushes far away.
Pursued by dog, ploughman, shepherd, and woodman, the eternal fox finds a badger hole, goes underground, only to get resurrected soon:
They tried to dig, but, safe from danger’s way, He lived to chase the hounds another day.
Another form of rebirth is imagined by Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) in, of course, his “The Fox”:
DRAGOŞ AVĂDANEI 11
…[S]he limps a little � bleeds Where they shot her Because hunters have guns And dogs have hangman’s legs Because I’d like to take her in my arms And tend her wound
Because she can’t afford to die Killing the young in her belly…
W. S. Merwin (b.1927), in his turn, finds no difficulty in seeing himself as a reincarnation of a fox in “Fox Sleep”:
…I have been a fox for five hundred lives and now I have come to ask you to say what will free me from the body of a fox please tell me when someone has wakened to what is really there is that person free of the chain of consequences and this time the answer was That person sees it as it is then the old man said Thank you for waking me you have set me free of the body of the fox
which you will find on the other side of the mountain…
In this lengthier poem (107 lines), the men find the dead fox (now reincarnated as the poet), whom “they buried as one of them”, while the animal turns out to be a pretext for writing ‒for writing poetry, in fact, as the protagonist looks, in the end ‒
and there beyond the valley above the rim of the wall the line of mountains I recognize like a line of writing that has come back when I had thought it was forgotten.
However, the fox cannot be forgotten as, being eternal, it also becomes fully aware of its identity, as Mary Oliver (b.1935) makes her/him say in “Straight Talk from the Fox”:
What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful [and arrogant]. I would not give my life for a thousand of yours.
And this already opens a dialogue with both Rita Dove (b. 1952) and Ted Hughes (infra);
She knew what she was and so was capable of anything anyone
could imagine. [even Hughes]
She loved what she was…
Unlike Hughes ‒ 12 AIC
She imagined nothing.
She loved nothing more than what she had, which was enough for her,
which was more than any man could handle.
Or, as stories and tales (not only children’s, like Beatrix Potter’s “Mr. Tod” in her 24 Tales, or David Garnett’s Lady into Fox, N. M. Browne’s Huntedor Elizabeth Hand’s Last Summer at Mars Hills) about anthropomorphic animals imbued with such human characteristics as trickery, re- sourcefulness, cunning, intelligence, magic powers would inform us, one could be in want of a fox to recognize his/her identity, like our three final poets, in search for theirs by means of dream (Young), memory (Rich) or imagination (Hughes). So here is Dean Young’s (b.1950) “The Fox”
as a dream:
One day, the fox doesn’t show.
That’s as close as you’ll ever get but she’s already figured out how to appear in your dreams, just not yet, not until you’ve stopped being nervous at twilight… –
or as memory (the Darwinian memory of the species?) in Adrienne Rich’s (1929-2012) “Fox”:
I needed fox Badly I needed
a vixen for the long time none had come near me I needed recognition from a
triangulated face burnt-yellow eyes
fronting the long body the fierce and sacrificial tail
I needed history of fox briars of legend it was said she had run through I was in want of fox
And the truth of briars she had to have run through I craved to feel on her pelt if my hands could even slide
past or her body slide between them sharp truth distressing surfaces of fur
lacerated skin calling legend to account a vixen’s courage in vixen terms For a human animal to call for help on another animal
is the most riven the most revolted cry on earth come a long way down
Go back far enough it means tearing and torn endless and sudden back far enough it blurts
into the birth-yell of the yet-to-be human child pushed out of a female the yet-to-be woman
or as a thought (where one becomes aware of “thought” as a noun, or as a past participle) in
“The Thought Fox”, which we have decided to also quote in full:
DRAGOŞ AVĂDANEI 13
I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive Beside the clock’s loneliness
And the blank page where my fingers move.
Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness Is entering the loneliness:
Cold, delicately as the dark snow, A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now And again now, and now, and now Sets neat prints into the snow Between tress, and warily a lame Shadow lags by stump and in hollow Of a body that is bold to come Across clearings, an eye, A widening deepening greenness, Brilliantly, concentratedly, Coming about its business
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks, The page is printed.
And so are these pages we are covering with words about imaginary and dream foxes that tend to become real; Ted Hughes (1930-1989): “…long after I am gone, as long as a copy of the poem exists, every time anyone reads it the fox will get up somewhere out of the darkness and come walking towards them” (apudSagar, 1983: 271). Published in his first 1957 collection The Hawk in the Rain (whose manuscript was typed by Sylvia Plath, his wife), the poem and his
“prophecy” are directly reminiscent of Marianne Moore’s 1921 modernist manifesto “Poetry”;
what she says, in a text full of quotations (Tolstoy, Yeats, Blake…) and paradoxes, is that the real poets (as opposed to “half poets”) should be able to “present/for inspection, ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them’”1.
It is this very statement ‒a quotation in the poem, but most likely a false one or one from Marianne Moore herself ‒that Ted Hughes seems to have had in mind as a way of answering her hope to see a new generation of “modernist poets” who can produce such imaginary gar- dens/forests with real toads/foxes in them. Moore’s “Poetry” (an ars poetica, i.e. a poem about poetry, is paralleled by Hughes’ poem about the writing of that very poem) defines poets as “lit- eralists of the imagination”, (another quote, from a Yeats essay on Blake), with imagination placed in opposition to intellection and with “the genuine” as the most essential attribute of good art, whose goal, as with Stevens’, is reality, i.e. human existence and experience, that can also rely on the dullness of “business documents [businessman Wallace Stevens?] and school books” (Tolstoy quote); the only dull anduseless thing is bad poetry, poetry of the “trivial” and the “insolent”; by
“real toads” (or foxes in Hughes) Moore meant the poet’s attempt to render the abstract into the concrete ‒an unattainable goal, after all, so Hughes’ fox can be seen as the reality of his thought.
Moreover, Moore’s fifteen or so revisions of the poem (between 1919 and 1967, i.e. over a period AIC
1See also our “Modernist Poetic Manifestoes” in Revenge of the Intellect(2016: 16‐26).
of half a century and varying in length from thirty, to thirteen and fifteen, to three/four lines) turn it into an Protean process poem, rather than a simple text (see also Hugh Kenner), and so we can more easily read “The Thought-Fox” as a process (of writing poetry), or an open system (see M. L. Rosenthal), or an open text.
But there is more in Hughes’ real “thought fox”; though in (Marianne Moore’s) reality there is no fox at all, we can still see it emerging slowly from the formlessness of the snow only to be caught forever in the words of the poem, on the real white page; Keith Sagar inappropriately (we think) describes this as “a simple trick”: “Suddenly, out of the unknown, there it is, with all the characteristics of a living thing [sic]…” (1979: 19); what we have here is a poem about the com- position of the poem itself (see also Mishra, 2015), and see the poet as what a poet etymologically is, i.e. a maker ‒of his imaginative universe, of his own realities, of his poem, with the poem and the fox proclaiming only the reality of its/their omnipotent creator (see Richard Webster, 1984);
and so, as in Adrienne Rich again, the fox is part of the poet’s identity; an identity that consists in his capacity of capturing the imagination, while exploring his imaginary forest in search of his real-poetic fox.
The “magic journey” of our “real poetic fox” begins in the morning, with the picture of an almost real urban fox jumping over a fence and trotting down the street and ends at midnight in a poet’s mind; in the meantime, it dies and comes back to life and thus lives several lives, fools its hunters and pursuers, moves from summer to autumn and winter in its mythopoeic quest and ends on pages “printed” between the seventh century B. C. and the present, i.e. 2017.
Otherwise, the real foxesare small, carnivorous/omnivorous mammals of the “dog” family, with “red foxes” as the largest among them (2.5–6.5 kg). They are common in farming and [ima - ginary] wooded areas almost everywhere. They eat [real] rodents, insects, frogs, seeds, fruit, eggs and some poultry. They breed usually four to five cubs in January – February and become inde- pendent at about six months. Once more, they prefer wooded or broken country, live in hollow logs or overhangs, often climb trees, enjoy sunning themselves and are not strictly nocturnal, as some poets would have them (see The Canadian Encyclopedia). On the other hand, the imaginary forests‒or towns and villages, fields and plains, valleys and hills, gardens, farms and orchards ‒ can readily come into being, as soon as a white page presents itself in front of the poet, whether he be Aesop or Hughes or any other one; so, what we have been dealing with, after all, are imag- inary poetic forests and real poetic foxes, both of which are no more than words in literary and scholarly texts.
And the explanation comes as an afterthought: “In the beginning was the Word. In the end will be the Word…; language is a human miracle always in danger of drowning in a sea of famil- iarity” (see Kennelly, Penny’s poetry pages); this is how prolific Irish poet Brendan Kennelly (b. 1936) can help us in the end ‒a perfect ending, in fact: “Dream of a Black Fox”, the title poem of his 1968 collection:
Dream of a Black Fox
The black fox loped out of the hills And circled for several hours, Eyes bright with menace, teeth
White in the light, tail dragging the ground.
The woman in my arms cringed with fear, Collapsed crying, her head hurting my neck.
She became dumb fear.
The black fox, big as a pony, Circled and circled, Whimsical executioner,
Tormented dripping like saliva from its jaws
DRAGOŞ AVĂDANEI 15
Too afraid to show my fear, I watched it as it circled;
Then it leaped across me
It great black body breaking the air, Landing on a wall above my head.
Turning then, it looked at me.
And I saw it was magnificent,
Ruling the darkness, lord of its element, Scorning all who are afraid,
Seeming even to smile At human pettiness and fear.
The woman in my arms looked up At this lord of darkness
And as quickly hid her head again.
Then the fox turned and was gone Leaving us with fear
And safety – Every usual illusion.
Quiet now, no longer trembling, She lay in my arms,
Still as a sleeping child.
I knew I had seen fear,
Fear dispelled by what makes fear A part of pure creation.
It might have taught me Mastery of myself, Dominion over death, But was content to leap With ease and majesty
Across the valleys and the hills of sleep.
A perfect ending with his dream of a salaciously imaginary “lord of darkness” and “whimsical executioner” ‒a magnificent monster of a fox in man’s forest of fear and illusion, in his “valleys and hills of sleep”; a frightful contemporary and postmodern fable of man’s confrontation with language and thought (a terrible thought-fox this time), by the author of some of the best poetry of our time (when most of the people in this world ‒like it or not ‒do not seem to be much in- terested in the writing and reading of poetry).
Canadian Encyclopedia, The (1985). Vols. I-III (vol. II, pp. 684-685). Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers.
CLARE, John (2009). John Clare’s Poems: The Lifetime Published Poetry. Edited by Simon SANADA. Online edition (http://www.johnclare.info/poems.html). [Last accessed: March 2017].
CLIFTON, Lucille (1996). The Terrible Stories. Brockport: BOA Editions.
DOVE, Rita (2004). American Smooth. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
ELSTER, Jon (1983). Sour Grapes: Studies in the Subversion of Rationality. Cambridge: CUP.
HARRIS, Stephen (1986). Urban Foxes. London: Whittet Books, Ltd.
HUGHES, Ted (2003). Collected Poems. Edited by Paul KEGAN. London: Faber and Faber.
HUGHES, Ted. Poems and profile at the Poetry Archive. Available at: http://www. - poetryarchive.org /poet/ted-hughes. [Last accessed: March 2017].
JARMAN, Mark (2011). Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. Louisville, KY: Sarabande Books.
KENNELLY, Brendan (1990). A Time of Voices: Selected Poems, 1960-1990. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books.
KENNELLY, Brendan. Penny’s poetry pages. Available at: pennyspoetry.wikia. - com.wiki/Brendan_Kennelly. [Last accessed: March 2017].
LEVINE, Philip (1984). Selected Poems. New York: Atheneum.
MISHRA, Alok (2015). The Thought Fox Poem by Ted Hughes. Available at: http://alok- mishra.net/the-thought-fox-ted-hughes-analysis/. [Last accessed: April 2017].
NOBLEMAN, Marc Tyler (2007). Foxes. New York: Benchmark Books.
OLIVER, Mary (2008). Red Bird: Poems. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
PATCHEN, Kenneth. The fox. Available at: http://www.agonia.net/index.php/poetry/ - 13898258/%20The%20_fox. [Last accessed: April 2017].
RICH, Adrienne (2001). Fox: Poems 1998-2000. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
SAGAR, Keith (1979). The Art of Ted Hughes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
SAGAR, Keith (Ed.) (1983). The Achievement of Ted Hughes. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
SAGAR, Keith (2000). The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes. Liverpool: Liverpool Uni- versity Press.
STEVENSON, Ian (1980). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. Second and revised edition.
University of Virginia Press.
WEBSTER, Richard (1984). ‘The Thought Fox’ and the Poetry of Ted Hughes. The Critical Quarterly, 26, 4. Available at: http://www.richardwebster.net/tedhughes.html. [Last accessed:
YOUNG, Dean. The Fox. Available at: http://www.versedaily.org/2009/thefox.shtml. [Last accessed: April 2017].
DRAGOŞ AVĂDANEI 17
Limites physiques dans le monde du rêve chez Théophile Gautier
Academia Naţională de Informaţii „Mihai Viteazul”, Bucureşti
Conçu traditionnellement en tant qu’espace dépourvu de toute limite, le monde du rêve acquiert dans la poétique développée par Théophile Gautier dans ses nou- velles le sens d’une reconfiguration de l’art. La perception artistique de la réalité détermine une reconstruction physique du monde du rêve, selon un moment es- sentiel de toute création artistique dans la conception de l’esthéticien roumain Tudor Vianu – l’isolement. Chez Théophile Gautier, le rêveur doit ainsi affirmer l’ex- istence de son espace personnel, en écartant parfois même les signes de vie et mo- bilité, afin de conférer une dimension plus artificielle à la réalité du rêve. De cette manière, la limite gagne une dimension hautement concrète et physique et l’entrée dans le territoire du rêve est soigneusement préparée, y compris en marquant les frontières à l’aide de signes immédiatement perceptibles. C’est ce qui marque la re- connaissance du rêve en tant qu’élément essentiel chez Gautier et permet l’admira- tion du haut degré de plasticité des images (bien que certaines soient assez communes), ainsi que l’alternance de la fermeture et de l’ouverture. Le respect de la forme ou les teintes claires, caractéristiques à la civilisation, se joignent ainsi à une réalité parfois horrible, marquée par le culturel.
Mots-clés : rêve ; isolement ; pictural ; limite ; construction.
The poetics developed by Théophile Gautier in his short stories entails an artistic reconfiguration of the world of the dream, which is traditionally conceived as a boundless space. The physical reconstruction of the oneiric universe is made pos- sible by the artistic perception of reality, namely by one essential element of any artistic endeavour, which Romanian aesthetician Tudor Vianu calls isolation. In Théophile Gautier’s view, the dreamer needs to assert the existence of his personal space, by sometimes renouncing any signs of life and mobility, in order to give a more artificial dimension to the reality of his dream. Thus, the limit itself acquires a highly concrete and physical dimension, and the access to the territory of the dream is carefully prepared, while the borders are marked by immediately percepti- ble signs. This is what makes the dream a distinctive element in Gautier’s writings, highlighting the outstanding plasticity of his images (despite their occasional ba- nality) as well as the alternation of closings and openings. The attention bestowed on form and clear hues, viewed as a hallmark of civilization, joins, every now and then, a culturally determined horrible reality.
Keywords: dream; isolation; pictorial; border; construction.
19 nr. 20AIC 2/2017
Physical Limits in Théophile Gautier’s
Le rêve est un monde difficile et les rêveurs – que ce soit de simples gens ou des spé- cialistes en psychanalyse ou en littérature – aiment croire qu’ils ne doivent affronter aucune limite. Espace d’un privilège inouï, le rêve jouit traditionnellement de la capacité de déterminer ses propres limites, sans avoir à rendre compte quant à la manière dont il construit saréalité. Tout en manifestant une certaine liberté, le rêveur jouit pleinement de la capacité créa- trice de son esprit, celle d’effacer certaines limites du monde qu’il construit, de telle manière que le rêve, tout en ouvrant sur de nouvelles perspectives, devient en même temps fermeture(Bachelard, 1948 : 98), car son monde se re-compose selon de nouvelles lois.
Le monde de Théophile Gautier témoigne d’une nostalgie fondamentale de l’écrivain envers l’art. Son univers semble se réclamer d’une perception artistique de la réalité et la manière dont il bâtit le monde de son rêve ne fait pas exception à cet égard. Dans les nouvelles de Théophile Gautier le rêve marque la manifestation explicite de ce que l’esthéticien roumain Tudor Vianu nommait l’isolement(Vianu, 1968 : 93-98). Le spécialiste roumain considérait que, pour affirmer l’œuvre d’art en tant que réalité délivrée de la nécessité de l’enchaînement des évènements, celle- ci doit définir quelques moments, dont le premier serait l’isolement. L’œuvre d’art doit s’isoler par rapport aux phénomènes qui composent le champ des expériences pratiques, les modalités préférées à cet égard étant différentes selon le type d’art : le silence qui précède le début d’une représentation musicale ou théâtrale ; le cadre d’un tableau ou le socle d’une sculpture. De cette manière on facilite aussi la transposition du spectateur dans le temps artistique, qui peut modifier la durée des évènements et même leur succession. Tudor Vianu envisageait ce concept d’une manière radicale, en affirmant même que l’absence de l’isolement est à même de compromettre la valeur esthétique des œuvres et mène au désaveu esthétique. Naturellement, l’isolement du point de vue temporel est assez facile à répérer dans le champ littéraire, pourtant il est intéressant le fait que la limite physique est manifeste dans le cas du rêve, surtout chez un écrivain amoureux de l’art tel Théophile Gautier. Aussi, la limite physique est-elle immédiatement perceptible, trait caractéris- tique à une imagination hautement plastique telle la sienne, le rêve parvenant ainsi plus facilement à la conjugaison avec la réalité.
Une limitation fondamentale, si visible d’ailleurs, est celle physique, perceptible en soi. Le rêveur se trouve chez soi dans l’espace personnel de son rêve, car l’espace du rêve « n’a plus de lointain » , il est « synthèse des choses et de nous-mêmes » (Bachelard, 1970 : 196) ; donc, s’il se perçoit dans son rêve dans une chambre étrangère, il est tout de suite frappé par la limitation que celle-ci lui assigne : Onuphrius s’aperçoit dans son rêve qu’il se trouvait « dans une chambre où je n’étais ja- mais venu, et que cependant je connaissais parfaitement bien » (Onuphrius, in Gautier, 2011 : 29) : celle-ci a les jalousies fermées et les rideaux tirés, détails auxquels s’ajoute la lumière agonisante d’une veilleuse pâle – une manière pseudo-pléonastique de souligner la demi-obscurité qui l’en- toure. À la limitation physique s’ajoute celle psychologique : le rêveur avoue connaître cette cham- bre, bien qu’il n’y eût jamais été là auparavant ; donc, son rêve ne serait pas un de la reconnaissance, peut-être aussi en vertu du fait que par le rêve « la conscience est compatible avec le désordre » (Valéry, 1960 : 729). La difficulté de la connaissance est accompagnée par celle du mouvement de tous les personnages (y compris du rêveur, mais celui-ci est mort dans le rêve) : « On ne marchait que sur la pointe du pied, le doigt sur la bouche » (Gautier, 2011 : 29). Aussi, le calme que devait induire cette familiarité imaginée trouve son contrepoint dans le statuaire dans lequel sont figés les personnages du rêve.
Le tableau est d’ailleurs sujet d’une étrange pétrification, par laquelle non seulement on arrête tout signe de vie, mais l’on pare tout le décor d’une auréole semblable à une œuvre d’art : les per- sonnages préfèrent les gestes théâtraux ( « Les personnes qui traversaient l’appartement avaient un air triste et affairé qui semblait extraordinaire » Gautier, 2011 : 29), la précision avec laquelle l’on décrit tel geste est cinématographique ( « De temps en temps une larme tombait de ses cils sur mes joues, et elle l’essuyait légèrement avec un baiser » , Gautier, 2011 : 29) et les limites physiques illustrant la séparation par rapport à la vie se multiplient : on présente au héros une glace – donc, un autre objet ayant un cadre – devant la bouche pour voir s’il respire encore ;