Guest Speakers and Participants

 

Guest Speakers:

SAVAGE BROSMAN, Catharine (Tulane University, professeure émérite)

“Gide à la pointe du bonheur”

Dans Les Nouvelles Nourritures (1935), Gide écrit, “La joie devint pour moi non seulement . . . un besoin naturel—mais bien encore une obligation morale”.  Il parle ailleurs d’une “impérieuse obligation” d’être heureux.  Claude Martin n’a-t-il pas souligné la “vocation du bonheur” gidienne?  Ce motvocation peut être entendu dans son sens fort: Gide estappelé à être heureux, à donner une image du bonheur.  A côté du thème du bonheur, cependant, se trouve, le long de l’oeuvre gidien, celui de la morale.  Comment les réconcilier, et en quoi consiste la double vocation du bonheur et de la morale, surtout sur le plan du vécu, si important pour Gide?  Un certain fatalisme gidien complique la question (“Ce qui est m’apparaît toujours ce qui devait être”, Journal, 15 octobre 1929).

Afin que nous comprenions mieux où Gide se situe sur la ligne bonheur-morale, et la façon dont ses ouvrages illustrent sa position, cette communication commencera par aborder la théorie du bonheur dans la pensée éthique, chez les anciens (surtout Aristote) et chez quelques modernes, Mill, par exemple; plus proche de Gide, on évoquera Alain.  Il sera tenu compte de la distinction entre la théorie hédoniste du bonheur et la théorie eudémonique, selon laquelle le bonheur n’est pas simplement le plaisir mais un bien-être plus nuancé, comprenant une dimension de réflexion et de pensée morale, et, à la fin, l’équivalent d’une vie complète.

La notion métaphorique de pointe sera également utile.  Gide se situe-t-il à la pointe du bonheur au sens de l’aurore—un bonheur naissant ou entrevu?  Cette pointe sert-elle à le conduire plus loin—une sorte d’avant-garde, de percée?  On imagine alors Gide au plus fort de la joie, au cap, une sorte de pionnier, tenant la lampe pour les autres, réalisant le bonheur de façon exemplaire.  Cette joie peut-elle durer? (Le suicide manqué d’Olivier semble inspiré par un trop-plein de bonheur, destiné à diminuer.)  Le bonheur de Gide se trouve-t-il au fur et à mesure qu’il écrit, c’est-à-dire à la pointe de son stylo?  LeJournal le suggére.

Ou bien, suivant Schopenhauer, ce bonheur entrevu est-il toujours reporté à l’avenir, étant de réalisation impossible, ou du moins décevante ?  Certaines oeuvres, et certains titres, le suggèrent: LaTentative amoureuse, Le Voyage d’Urien, Le Retour de l’enfant prodigue; dans chaque cas, la conclusion marque un échec, du moins partiel; de même, le chef-d’oeuvre de 1909: une porte (vers la possibilité), mais étroite.  On pense même aux Faux-Monnayeurs—la fausseté, incompatible évidemment avec le bonheur véritable, étant un thème majeur.  Cependant le roman et plusieurs autres ouvrages, Les Caves du Vatican; par exemple, se terminent sur une nouvelle perspective, une nouvelle aurore.

 

GENOVA, Pamela (University of Oklahoma)

“Does Gide Pertain?: Twenty-first Century French Studies and the Role of Writers Past ”


In the current paper, I center my exploration on a question to which I have of late given a good deal of thought: In today’s scholarly field of modern French Studies, preoccupied by such issues as the changing nature of la francophonie and the dynamics of lalittérature monde, does André Gide, twentieth-century cultural giant, still matter? Further, given that the French and francophone fiction scene is undeniably alive and well these days, with a host of authors gaining international celebrity both from their written works and for their real-life escapades, and with graduate students and faculty turning more and more to these new figures on the aesthetic horizon, what exactly is the place for a writer such as Gide, perceived in certain academic circles as limited, outmoded, even completely irrelevant in the current artistic and social landscape? Of course, this is hardly the first time in the history of French letters—or of any other history of cultural production—that a new wave of expression comes to eclipse earlier forms, or that new areas of disciplinary focus come into view. Yet for the history of what we know as French Literature, the past two decades or so do indeed seem to have been truly transformative, deeply self-conscious in the quest for innovation, in subject matter, in form, and in the geographical potential of creative voices emerging from beyond the perimeters of the hexagon. Thus I undertake to examine what Gide might still have to tell us, how he might still simply pertain.

 

MASSON, Pierre (Université de Nantes, professeur émérite)

“Gide et les frontières intérieures”

Gide appartient à une génération et à une famille pour qui la notion de frontière n’est pas sacrée; l’espace s’organise autour de lui en fonction de ses affinités et de ses goûts. Son intérêt pour l’Allemagne devient, après 1918, défense d’un esprit européen qu’il étendra jusqu’à l’Union soviétique et qu’il continuera de manifester après 1945.Pour Gide, il n’y a donc de frontières que subjectives, celles que tracent son attirance ou sa répulsion pour un pays; mais cette notion de frontière est ambivalente: elle doit être assez forte pour créer une impression d’étrangeté, stimulant la curiosité, mais aussi assez perméable pour permettre au voyageur de tirer profit de ce dépaysement. La frontière est donc un seuil critique, révélateur de ce que l’homme peut ou ne peut pas assimiler, et dans son œuvre de fiction, Gide l’utilise souvent pour exprimer une morale ambiguë: d’un côté, une invitation à savoir ne pas aller trop loin, mais d’un autre côté la célébration d’une tentation jusqu’au-boutiste qui atteste en lui la nostalgie de l’absolu. C’est cette tentation qui se concrétise dans certains lieux synthétiques réservés aux héros dont il est le plus proche.

 

PUTNAM, Walter (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque)

“Gide à la lumière de la littérature-monde”

Est-ce que Gide se situe pleinement dans le domaine conventionnel de la littérature française ou bien ne peut-on mieux le comprendre par rapport aux innovations et aux élargissements qui caractérisent la littérature-monde?  Remontant à la weltliteratur de Goethe mais m’appuyant également sur des études plus récentes (Casanova, Apter, Moretti, Rouaud et Le Bris, Spivak), je présenterai le profil d’un Gide aux horizons plus larges et aux contours plus amples qu’on ne lui accorde d’habitude.  Cette analyse s’organisera autour d’une distinction entre le roman social et le roman interculturel, le premier se caractérisant par une identité du même, le second par une curiosité pour l’autre.  Le roman social est monologique tandis que le roman interculturel est dialogique.  La crise du roman dans la période de l’entre-deux-guerres oblige Gide, comme bien de ses contemporains, à chercher par-delà les frontières nationales une façon de renouveler la littérature française.  Il élargit ses lectures et ses rencontres en s’intéressant aux écrivains tels que Tagore, Conrad, et Taha Hussein.  La littérature dépasse les frontières, elle se déterritorialise, elle devient l’affaire du multiple, de l’horizontal, du nomade.  Loin de reproduire le réel, il s’agit de conjurer des mondes pluriels et polyvalents.  La trajectoire de Gide, aboutissant aux Faux-monnayeurs, suit le parcours d’un écrivain cosmopolite à la recherche de la plus grande richesse, de la plus grande diversité, de la plus grande ouverture sur le monde.

 

SAGAERT, Martine (Université du Sud-Toulon-Var)

“Gide Hors-Cadre”

Pour André Gide, écrire, c’est s’efforcer de sortir de la terre donnée en héritage, refuser « l’espace des fauves prisonniers »,  avec le risque de heurter un « grand mur »,  « poli comme un miroir et transparent comme du cristal ». Ecrire, c’est « passer outre ».

Seul, à l’écart d’une rassurante normalité, l’écrivain travaille sa terre aux « chemins bordés d’aristoloches* ».

Pour tenter de définir la spécificité de la création gidienne, son « idiosyncrasie puissamment coloratrice », on partira de Paludes et on associera à la représentation de l’homme écrivant  celle  de « l’homme couché », l’homme enceint, prêt à enfanter.

*plantes favorisant l’accouchement.

 

SEGAL, Naomi (Birkbeck, University of London)

“Gide’s Skin”

Itching, clothing, desire and pleasure: these are four key modes by which Gide lived in his skin and related to the skins of others. Itching was ‘un mal mesquin, inavouable, ridicule’; as for clothing, as the Petite Dame put it, ‘il s’y installe précautionneusement, soigneusement, pour le plus grand bien de ses membres et de ses vêtements, en voluptueux réfléchi’; his desire was directed towards ‘ce qui reste de soleil sur les peaux brunes’; and his pleasure required ‘un total épuisement’ of the fluid body, the depleted skin of the hunger-artist. What do these very different encounters of self with skin, and the senses of touch that they imply, tell us about Gide’s life in the body, a body now available only in words? The paper will analyse these motifs in relation to other texts such as those of Franz Kafka and Lorette Nobécourt and the book of Job, and theorists such as Didier Anzieu and Thomas Laqueur. It will end on a comparison of body fluids on the skin in the two ‘discovery scenes’ of La Porte étroite and Si le grain ne meurt…’

 

WITTMANN, Jean-Michel (Université Paul Verlaine – Metz)

“La terre la plus riche, dit Carey, est la terreur du premier émigrant.” : Gide face aux terres “en marge de la culture, barbares et méconnues”

Gide vante les « terres basses », proclamant la nécessité de l’originalité et du renouvellement en littérature, dans sa troisième conférence « nationalisme et littérature ». La littérature n’est cependant le seul enjeu de ce texte majeur : la frontière qu’y évoque Gide sépare deux types de littérature, mais ce sont aussi celles du groupe, soucieux d’affirmer son identité (ce qui est français et ce qui ne l’est pas) et ses valeurs (ce qui entre dans la norme ou pas), le texte nous renvoyant au contexte de la querelle du classicisme et donc à une séquence, dans la carrière de Gide, qui est à la fois celle de la défense voire de l’affirmation de l’homosexualité, et celle de l’attraction-répulsion à l’égard de l’Action française et des nationalistes.

De ce point de vue – et jusque dans le choix des images – Gide est l’homme de la frontière, parce qu’il appelle à les déplacer, à les repousser (sur le plan littéraire comme sur le plan moral ou politique), mais aussi parce qu’il campe délibérément sur la frontière entre ce qui est admis, normal et intégré et ce qui ne l’est, s’installant à la fois d’un côté et de l’autre, comme écrivain reconnu d’une part, comme homosexuel voire comme protestant de l’autre. Dans le contexte de la séquence évoquée plus haut, la communication se proposerait ainsi de revenir sur le rapport de Gide à la frontière, sans fermer les yeux sur certaines ambiguïtés de sa position.

Participants:

BENJAMIN, Martine (Princeton University)

“Sur les traces d’ André Gide et d’ André Malraux, « compagnons de routes » à Berlin et en URSS.”

L’influence déterminante qu’eut André Gide sur André Malraux n’est plus à démontrer. Pour un temps, de 1922 à environ 1937, Gide fut pour Malraux un maître à penser, un appui prestigieux  (Gide fut l’un des premiers en 1924 à signer la pétition en faveur de Malraux lors du procès de  Phnom-Penh) et surtout un utile « compagnon de route ». Séparément ou ensemble, les deux écrivains n’ont pas hésité à franchir bien des frontières, tant physiques que morales et politiques: contempteurs des valeurs admises, ils furent les premiers à dénoncer de façon retentissante les abus du colonialisme en Indochine et au Congo. Ensemble ils animèrent des manifestations antifascistes pour la défense de la culture, notamment celles de l’Association des écrivains et artistes révolutionnaires, (A.E.A.R). A une époque de grande confusion, ils furent  à leur insu – selon Olivier Todd[1] et Stephen Koch 2- particulièrement courtisés et manipulés par les bolchéviques désireux de s’attacher parmi les intellectuels des sympathisants du régime . Ainsi, par exemple, on apprend que leur voyage à Berlin en janvier 1933, organisé secrètement par Willi Münzenberg et par ses émules, n’avait pas d’autre but que de mobiliser l’opinion française contre le fascisme hitlérien et que Gide et Malraux, espérant y trouver Hitler ou Goebbels avaient été tout simplement  manœuvrés.  Ce qui n’empêchera d’ailleurs pas Malraux, trente-huit ans plus tard, d’affirmer à Jean Lacouture qu’ils avaient bien été reçus par Goebbels! Ce sont les constantes et les variantes des récits de ces deux voyages à Berlin et en URSS que je me propose de comparer. Et la question sera aussi de savoir jusqu’à quel point les deux écrivains étaient dupes.


[1] Todd, Olivier, André Malraux, Une vie, Edition Gallimard, 2001

[2] Koch, Stephen, Double lives, Spies and writers in the secret soviet war of ideas against the West The Free Press. 1994.

 

BERTRAND, Stephanie

“Je ne suis pas pareil aux autres ! »[1] : le « je » gidien, entre désir de singularité et tentation de banalité[2]

Dans ses œuvres autobiographiques, Gide n’a de cesse de constater sa singularité : « Je ne suis pas pareil aux autres ! » s’exclame-t-il à deux reprises dans Si le grain ne meurt[3]. Il va, de même, insuffler ce désir chez les personnages de ses récits. Celui-ci prend un nom, partout repris : l’idiosyncrasie. « Nous ne valons que par ce qui nous distingue des autres : l’idiosyncrasie est notre maladie de valeur »[4] s’exclame ainsi Valentin Knox dans Paludes.

Cependant, cette frontière entre le « moi » et les autres n’est pas si étanche : le « je », autobiographique comme fictionnel, subit une autre tentation, celle de s’oublier lui-même, de se reconnaître dans un groupe. En effet, les nombreux aphorismes qui parsèment l’œuvre gidienne semblent témoigner d’un souhait de se conformer à un idéal plus universel ; à une norme ? A moins qu’ils ne soient l’expression d’un « je » qui souhaite s’ériger en modèle ? Dans tous les cas, ces aphorismes permettent de questionner le rapport du « je » à l’autre.

C’est donc la nature ambiguë, voire paradoxale, de cette frontière entre le « je » et l’autre (ou les autres), entre le constat d’une différence et le refus d’une marginalité absolue, que nous étudierons à la lumière des aphorismes, en particulier dans ses œuvres de jeunesse, au moment où la personnalité de l’écrivain se cherche en même temps qu’elle cherche à s’affirmer.


[1] A. Gide, Si le grain ne meurt, Paris, Gallimard, 1955, première partie, chapitre V, p.133.

[2] « Un grand homme n’a qu’un souci : devenir le plus humain possible, – disons mieux : DEVENIR BANAL. » A. Gide, « De l’influence en littérature », Paris, Gallimard, « Bibliothèque de la Pléiade », 1999, p.410

[3] A. Gide, Si le grain ne meurt, Paris, Gallimard, 1955, première partie, chapitre V, p.133.

[4] A. Gide,  Romans et récits, Paris, Gallimard, « Bibliothèque de la Pléiade », tome I, 2009, p.288.

 

CANO, Christine (Case Western Reserve University)

“Gide at the Frontier of the Nouvelle Vague

In a 1961 interview for La Gazette de Lausanne, Marc Allégret concluded that Gide’s notions of cinema anticipated the aesthetics of the Nouvelle Vague.  Indeed, Gide’s rare forays into screenwriting suggest that his cinematic tendencies stood outside the conventions of the state-supported tradition de la qualité that dominated French postwar filmmaking.  The best-known adaptation of a Gidean work, Jean Delannoy’s prize-winning La Symphonie pastorale (Palme d’Or, 1946), is a case in point.  Although Gide participated in Delannoy’s project by drafting a screenplay of his 1919 novella, Delannoy preferred to use a script penned by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, the screenwriting team lambasted by François Truffaut in Les Cahiers du cinéma for their “faithless” literary adaptations.  The result was a commercially successful film that exemplified France’s response to Hollywood in the postwar era: a polished, formulaic historical drama that left Gide indifferent.  Gide, meanwhile, was busy adapting his 1911 novella Isabelle for the cinema–a project never brought to the screen in his lifetime.  When Jean-Jacques Thierry adapted Isabelle for French television in 1970, he put aside Gide’s innovative screenplay and based his script directly on the novel, following Isabelle’s conventional structure and chronology.

Why have Gide’s screenplays been ignored by the directors and scriptwriters who have realized his works?  Did Gide force the boundaries of pre-Nouvelle Vague cinema through his experiments with temporality and his mixing of genres?  To address these intriguing questions, I consider Gide’s screenwriting efforts in conjunction with the non-Gidean versions of La Symphonie pastoraleIsabelle, and Les Faux-Monnayeurs that have been produced for cinema or television.

 

CONNER, Tom (St. Norbert College)

After providing a short history of the committed public intellectual in France, who came of age thanks to to the Dreyfus affair, I will look at André Gide’s record during the affaire. Despite his future committent to progressive causes, Gide chose not to become involved, and I will examine a few reasons why Gide reamined on the sidelines, as it were.

 

DEBARD, Clara

“La collaboration artistique entre André Gide et Jacques Copeau : Amal et la lettre du roi

Traduite par Gide, programmée pour le Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier dès l’année 1914, puis reportée à cause de la 1ère guerre mondiale, inscrite au programme de 1920, prévue successivement dans les saisons 1920-1921, 1922-1923 et 1923-1924, mise en répétitions juste avant la fermeture du Théâtre au printemps 1924, la pièce de théâtre Amal et la lettre du roi n’a finalement jamais été portée à la scène par Jacques Copeau.

Quelles sont les caractéristiques de cette traduction-adaptation ? Peut-on spéculer sur les raisons pour lesquelles elle n’a pas vu le jour dans la mise en scène de Copeau ? En quoi les dossiers de travail aident-ils à comprendre la relation entre l’écrivain et le metteur en scène ?

 

DIVAY, Gaby (University of Manitoba)

“Gide Crossing German, Canadian and American Borders”

One of Gide’s earliest and foremost German translators was Felix Paul Greve, who later became the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove, or FPG for short (1879-1948).

Gide’s “Conversation avec un Allemand” provides an important key to Grove’s early life. Greve had just served a year-long sentence for fraud in Bonn, when he rushed to Paris for this important meeting with Gide in June 1904. He had translated L’Immoraliste in prison, and was hoping to secure further assignments. Common grounds for discussion were also Nietzsche’s philosophy of “Beyond Good & Evil,” and Oscar Wilde’s l’art pour l’art dandyism. Gide was to remember Greve for years to come in his diaries, and likely based his immoral protagonist Lafcadio in Les caves du Vatican on him.

Included in Claude Martin’s masterly critical edition of this memorable encounter were two revealing letters by Greve (BAAG 1976; e-Ed. 2001). They document his voluntary exile in Wollerau, Switzerland, and Étaples/Paris-Plage in 1904/05, and ambitious plans to depict his lover Else’s life in poetry and prose.

Else, who had left her husband August Endell for Greve in 1903, became the notorious Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven in New York dada circles spearheaded by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. Her expressive Autobiography mirrors Greve’s 1905 novel Fanny Essler about her. It also chronicles Greve’s “suicide” in 1909, his subsequent life in American, their reunion in Pittsburgh in 1910, and his abandonment in Kentucky a year later.

In June 1921, Else had Man Ray’s pupil Bernice Abbott approach Gide on her behalf. Identifying herself as Greve’s wife, and documenting her recent literary fame with various issues of The Little Review, she made him the following immodest proposal: Gide should support her in Paris to further her creative endeavors — to the invaluable benefit of the Metropolis!

As to Greve, he settled in Canada as Grove in 1912. Ill concealed references to Gide in his 1946 autobiography In Search of Myself prompted D. O. Spettigue’s ground-braking discovery of Grove’s dual identity in 1972. FPG became a big fish in a small pond, while Else swam alongside bigger fish in international waters.

 

DUBOIS, Elsa

“LE PERSONNAGE GIDIEN : LA (RE)CONCILIATION DU ROMAN ET DU MYTHE”


Gide est  peu étudié en France, notamment dans le cycle secondaire, comme si la pensée du « contemporain capital » était devenue ésotérique, voire obsolète. Nous entendons montrer la nécessité de lire Gide : déjouant l’enfermement nombriliste majoritairement à l’œuvre dans le XX° siècle finissant et au XXI° siècle commençant, où le Je  complaisamment s’observe et de facto empêche l’autre de se dire, notre auteur restaure un âge d’or dans une époque problématique. Inquiéteur, certainement, mais dans un but conciliateur, sans aucun doute, Gide parvient à concilier le mythe et le roman.

Nous montrons tout d’abord combien certains mythes, qui obsèdent l’auteur au point d’en devenir personnels, se conjuguent selon le mode romanesque. Ainsi le Je que l’on voit sans cesse à l’œuvre chez Gide est-il nécessairement sollicité par cette double motivation personnelle et mythique, donc universelle. En réponse à cette motivation, Gide crée un Je multiforme, protéen, qui parvient à échapper à l’individualité, à la clôture de la définition, ferment de toute séparation. Par la médiation de ce Je, Gide fonde l’accord du personnage non seulement avec les autres protagonistes, mais aussi avec la diégèse, et surtout avec le lecteur.  Persona du théâtre antique et du mythe, sans être pour autant figure imposée et transcendante, le personnage gidien  s’oppose  à l’individu mythifié et autocentré, qui consacre le désaccord avec le monde  pour le plus grand dommage du lecteur, et instaure le mythe humaniste de la personne.

 

JAMES, Allison (University of Chicago)

“The fait divers at the Frontier of Fiction: Rhetoric and Voice in Gide’s Documentary Texts”


It is a truism to state that André Gide’s works have a significant factual dimension. Gide’s creation of what Philippe Lejeune calls an “autobiographical space” — an ambiguous zone where fact and fiction meet — is now well-explored critical territory. Also well known is the paradoxical hypothesis, presented in Si le grain ne meurt, that novels may approach truth more closely than do memoirs. However, another body of factual writing occupies a more marginal place in Gide’s oeuvre: Souvenirs de la Cour d’Assises (1914), and the reports Gide publishes in the NRF collection Ne jugez pas: “La Séquestrée de Poitiers” and “L’Affaire Redureau” (1930). Although Gide situates these texts outside his literary practice, the fait divers has an important place in literary history, where it often functions as a psychological puzzle and as a source of narrative inspiration. Crossing rapidly into the literary realm, the case of the séquestrée, as mediated by Gide, has echoes across twentieth-century French fiction (Mauriac, Sarraute, Sartre, Simenon, Queneau…). Gide’s interest in reportage, along with his long-term collection of faits divers, has been read as a symptom of “repressed” realism and as the site of a belated engagement with the naturalist tradition. Developing a different approach, this paper offers a close analysis of the rhetorical and narrative construction of Gide’s factual reports, with a particular focus on the role of voice. Gide’s ostensibly impersonal organization of documentary testimony is in fact a complex staging of polyphony that has close affinities with his novelistic practice, notably the dialogic structures of Les Faux-monnayeurs. Gide’s “documentary” work casts light on the ethical stakes of his fiction, not only by revealing the author’s profound attachment to the real, but also by making visible the boundaries and border crossings between literary invention and the demands of fact.

 

KOFFI-TESSIO, Marie-Hélène (Columbia University)

“André Gide à la frontière; Gide et le monde noir”

En 1925 alors que Les Faux Monnayeurs sont sous presse, Gide entreprend un périple en Afrique Équatoriale Française, ce voyage qui s’est « imposé à [lui] par une sorte de fatalité inéluctable – comme tous les éléments importants de [sa] vie » (Souvenirs et voyages, 333). Ce périple sera à l’origine de deux ouvrages : Le voyage au Congo (1927) et Le retour du Tchad (1928). Dans cette communication nous nous attacherons à montrer qu’avant même son départ pour l’Afrique subsaharienne, Gide s’est trouvé confronté au monde noir en Afrique du Nord, confrontation placée sous le signe de la violence (les orteils coupés des Soudanais qui annoncent leur statut d’esclaves dans Amyntas) du délire physique et du déchainement tels qu’on les trouve dans une scène d’hystérie décrite dans le Journal ; là où l’on aurait pu trouver la scène presque attendue d’une visite de harem (regard volé à la Delacroix) c’est à une scène d’hystérie présidée par une « sorcière » noire dans une cours privée que le lecteur est convié. La violence qu’impliquent les orteils mutilés et l’excès du délire hystérique annonçaient déjà la brutalité que Gide découvrira lors de son voyage au Congo. A travers l’analyse de ces descriptions et la « cartographie » du monde noir qu’ elles dessinent, c’est sur le Gide à la frontière entre le monde connu et l’inconnu, le monde « sauvage » et le monde  « civilisé » mais aussi un monde accessible et un monde mystérieux, dérangeant et interdit que nous voulons nous attarder.

 

MORELLO, André (Université du Sud Toulon-Var)

“Lire Bossuet au Congo: Gide à la frontière des préjugés et de l’ethnologie”


Dans son dernier livre, Pensées simples (Gallimard, 2011), Gérard Macé consacre trois pages à l’attitude de Gide en Afrique noire, rappelant la formule de Barthes dans ses Mythologies. Dans le prolongement des études de David Ellison, mais aussi du texte d’Orhan Pamuk invitant à une relecture de Gide, et des livres de Vincent Debaene (L’Adieu au voyage) et de Gérard Cogez sur les écrivains voyageurs au XX è siècle, j’ai interrogé, lors du colloque de Toulon en mars dernier (Actualités d’André Gide), la position de Gide vis à vis du dialogue des cultures. Je souhaite développer cette analyse en ajoutant à la relecture des notes de Gide sur la Turquie celle du Voyage au Congo. C’est dans ce texte que Gide écrit à propos des “Noirs”: “je ne les crois capables que d’un très petit développement, le cerveau gourd et stagnant le plus souvent dans une nuit épaisse”.  N’y a-t-il pas, chez Gide, une tentation de repli identitaire, et la conviction profonde que les cultures, comme l’a écrit Edgar Morin, “ne peuvent pas dialoguer”. Avec une sensibilité différente d’un Montherlant (voir Les Voyageurs traqués), Gide n’est pas loin de la position qui sera celle de Lévi-Strauss à la fin de sa vie, lorsqu’il écrit: “les cultures [...] ont besoin, pour exister et se renouveler, de disposer en quelque manière d’une base de repli identitaire à partir de laquelle elles affirment une singularité qui paraît s’opposer à l’ouverture vers l’extérieur”.

 

PILLET, Claude (Paris-IV Sorbonne)

“Gide et le Haut-Pays (1940-1945)”

Le photographe, éditeur et journaliste lausannois Maurice Blanc est un admirateur fervent de nombreux écrivains de son temps, français ou suisses, avec lesquels il entretient des rapports amicaux. Parmi eux, Gide occupe sans doute la première place. La fondation des éditions du Haut-Pays, à Lausanne en 1940, va permettre à Blanc et de publier le dernier roman de Malraux et, grâce à celui-ci, de rencontrer l’auteur des Faux-Monnayeurs à qui il demande aussitôt un texte majeur inédit. Malheureusement, entre l’Egypte (1939) et la Tunisie (1942), Gide est en proie à mille hésitations et atermoiements. Ce n’est pas qu’il pratique telle forme d’attentisme, c’est bien que les circonstances l’obligent à prendre des décisions ou à prendre position de manière publique et définitive, attitude qui lui déplaît particulièrement et qui l’empêche peut-être de nourrir de grands projets littéraires.

Toutefois, grâce sans doute à son «Chardonne 1940» et aux textes qu’il a ensuite confiés au Figaro, Gide propose à Blanc la publication partiellement inédite de ses Interviews imaginaires que le Lausannois s’empresse de faire paraître quelques jours après La Lutte avec l’Ange de Malraux (1943), non sans de grandes difficultés. Fort reconnaissant et sans doute aussi soucieux de développer sa collection des «Textes inédits du Haut-Pays», Maurice Blanc échange avec l’écrivain une belle correspondance dans laquelle on découvre que Gide avait un moment songé à donner à son nouvel éditeur une part de son journal récent. Blanc devra attendre la fin de la guerre et compter sur sa ténacité pour venir à bout des réticences de Gide, retourné chez Gallimard. Les Pages de Journal. 1939-1941 (mai 1942) constitueront alors le dernier livre d’importance que publiera le Haut-Pays (1945).

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