- Scholarship in Languages Other Than English
i French Contributions: Françoise Clary and Daniel Royot
Many research centers in American studies now publish collections of articles focused on broad subjects, allowing joint ventures among specialists of literature and civilization. Emprunts, Empreintes dans la fiction nord-américaine (Bordeaux: Maison des Sciences de l'Homme d'Aquitaine) testifies to the admirable coherence demonstrated by its editors, Christian Lerat and Yves-Charles Grandjeat, through their various research projects. Lerat remains one of the few French Americanists interested in colonial literature. In this volume he acknowledges Benjamin Franklin's borrowings from both ancient masters and neoclassical canons set by his American contemporaries. Such an approach may have allowed Franklin to become an exceptionally talented imitator while leaving his own stamp. Thus, cultivating genres especially tailored to the expectations of his public, Franklin also became "the poet of common sense," in Sainte-Beuve's words, in addition to his didactic achievements ("Ecritures frankliniennes: des modèles au 'modèle,' " pp. 15–30).
Jean-Pierre Martin claims attention for his numerous and talented contributions to American studies. Etats-Unis d'hier, Etats-Unis d'au-jourd'hui (Paris: L'Harmattan) is a festschrift in his honor. In its introduction (pp. 7–14) Serge Ricard puts the debate in historical perspective, tracing patterns of cultural change and reaction in "L'Amérique des ruptures." Gérard Hugues's "De quelques mots vides du lexique républicain" (pp. 17–30) provides a subtle analysis of the principles of the social compact in the United States, while André Muraire interrogates the myth of a gunfighter nation in "Le Western et la guerre du Vietnam" (pp. 31–52). In "Le procès des huit de Chicago: Un Kulturkampf à [End Page 457] l'américaine" (pp. 79–93) Hélène Christol discusses the roots and political dimensions of counterculture. "Faut-il stériliser les pauvres? Interrogations d'un pasteur progressiste" (pp. 132–46) by Michel Bandry is particularly stimulating. Bandry brings new material to a fuller understanding of Erskine Caldwell's description of the misery of God's "forsaken ones" in both Tenant Farmers and Tobacco Road. He offers innovative ways of thinking about how the domestic and religious life of Reverend Ira Sylvester Caldwell—Erskine Caldwell's father—locates power. In "Les écrivains indo-américains, témoins d'une nouvelle (im)migration" (pp. 333–48) Jean-Robert Rougé discusses The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee. This essay is followed by Claude Massu's "Robert Venturi et les sources littéraires du postmodernisme architectural" (pp. 349–60), which studies the symbolism of architectural forms with reference to T. S. Eliot and James Joyce. Similarly, in "Holden Caulfield et le fou qui vivait dans les tombes: Réflexions sur une péricope de Marc (le démoniaque de Gérasa: Marc 5.1–20)" (pp. 361–80) Sylvie Mathé suggests a new reading of The Catcher in the Rye that would examine the book's religious motif.
Exploring universal and national myths, La Tragédie: variations américaines, ed. Joseph Urbas (RFEA 82), is as much a critical document as a study of characteristic 19th- and 20th-century American fiction. Its six articles, with an introduction to "Memories of Master Gaddis by William H. Gass" (pp. 3–16) by Marc Chénetier, aim at affording new answers to the problems raised by tragedy. In "Scepticisme et tragédie: Shakespeare, Emerson, Cavell" (pp. 17–33) Sandra Laugier studies how Stanley Cavell's reading of Shakespeare and Emerson brings out a specifically American concept of the tragic. Devoted to a new reading of Moby-Dick, Joseph Urbas's essay "Moby-Dick: tragédie de la médiation" (pp. 34–57) addresses the issue of the "tragedy of thought" without falling victim to the treacheries of material representation. Confronting The Turn of the Screw with its preface, Agnès Derail's "Le Tour d'écrou ou l'illusion tragique" (pp. 58–70) examines how James recasts the question of the tragic in modern fantastic fiction. "Le pathétique dans les premiers romans de William Faulkner: un exemple de rapport tragique à la loi...