- Les ‘Cahiers du chemin’ (1967–1977) de Georges Lambrichs: poétique d’une revue littérairepar Serge Martin
Is there a renaissance of the revuein France currently? If so, which direction will it take? Lignesor Décapage? Vacarmeor Nunc? Bordel or La Revue littéraire? Researchers will not necessarily find an answer in Serge Martin’s recent study of the Gallimard journal, Les Cahiers du chemin; but they will be impressed by the method adopted. If the subtitle suggests a literary approach to a literary journal, Martin is also comprehensive in his treatment of the writers associated. The journal’s pages are graced not only by Nobel laureate J.-M. G. Le Clézio, who contributes regularly across the ten years of its existence, but also by his laureate colleague Patrick Modiano appearing alongside (notably) Michel Butor, Jacques Réda, Jude Stéfan, Michel Deguy, and even Michel Foucault, Samuel Beckett, and Pierre Guyotat; not to mention the three ‘Jeans’ (Ristat, Starobinski, and Ricardou), as well as Pierre Klossowski, Pascal Quignard, Jacques Roubaud, Yves Bonnefoy Bernard Noël, Henri Michaux, Claude Ollier, Gérard Macé, Guillevic, Georges Perec, Marianne Alphant, Michel Chaillou, Jean-Loup Trassard, Raymond Queneau, Francis Ponge, Eugène Ionesco, Philippe Jaccottet, Pierre Alechinsky, and Pascal Lainé. As well as the journal’s éminence grise Georges Lambrichs, two other names stick out: Henri Meschonnic and Georges Perros. Meschonnic becomes the in-house poetry theorist of the journal, Perros its practitioner. The bibliographical apparatus supplied by Martin is a model to follow: it records the contents of each of the thirty numbers, lists authors by frequency, and offers an index. Much of the analysis revolves around Lambrichs, his own œuvre (including the book series ‘Le Chemin’ published by Gallimard from 1959), and his relations with Gallimard, especially in the cross-over with the Nouvelle Revue français (NRF). Vaguely touted as the new NRF, Les Cahiers du cheminare squeezed between (and, finally, squeezed out by) this world-renowned journal of the Gallimard stable on the one hand — Lambrichs becomes the rédacteur en chefof the NRFjust as Les Cahiers du cheminfold in 1977 — and on the other, the phenomenal success of Tel quel. Marcel Arland even saw Les Cahiers du cheminas the place that Tel quel-type material was dealt with (hence the importance of Meschonnic’s radical poetics in the Cahiersin the early 1970s). But there is no ‘split’ between the NRFand the Cahiers, in the way that Changehad broken away from Tel quel inthe tumult of 1969 and 1970. Indeed, that the Cahierscould continue alongside the NRFsuggests an ‘older and younger sibling’ metaphor rather than any antagonistic family feud, perhaps enabling Les Cahiers du cheminto be a theoretical and journalistic training-ground for the continuation of the NRFbeyond the paternalism of Arland’s long stewardship. Its launch suggests that the French literary revuein general had a new lease of life in the 1960s; but also that there is an element of belletrism in the Cahiersbelied by the humanistic notion of literature in its title and by its failure to see the necessarily institutionalized condition of literature.