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"Des Petits Ebranlements Capillaires The Art of Michel Vinaver ROSETTE C. LAMONT ". ''I'm allergic to Beckett and Ionesco," Michel Yinaver stated in conversation in June 1986. He went on: "I'm not interested in writing psychological theatre, or plays of the absurd. 1wish to create the kind of theatre which would exercise an action upon the world, but without preaching or teaching. Writing is already a political act.'" Although Yinaver will not align himself with any movement, he has been embraced by the Leftist intelligentsia ever since Roger Planchon directed his play, Les Coreens. at the Theatre de la Comedie in Lyons (1955). Until very recently, Vinaver was perceived as the in-house author of Theatre Populaire. a member of the Barthes-Dort team which advocated a "Brechtian cure'" for French theatre. He himself says in no uncertain terms: "I never felt 1 was a Brechtian, although 1had and still have a great admiration for Brecht the writer, and Brecht the director. In the second half of the fifties and the sixties, 1found myself outside any existing movement in the theatre.'" Yinaver may practice the "Y Effect," but in his case the Y stands resolutely for Yinaver rather than Veifremdung. To define the nature of the estrangement Yinaver is aiming at, and to differentiate it from that of Brecht, one need only tum to his impishly incisive "Auto-Interrogatoire": Brecht intended to make the banal appear "strange" by holding it at arm's length, thus lending it decipherability ... My own procedure takes its start from a different vantage point, only to reach a comparable effect of alienation. It consists in borrowing some elements from a flat, raw reality, to dissociate them from one another, and to reassemble them by means of montage, collage, assemblage, culminating in a form of laceration ... Only then does their fundamental strangeness strike the public. These elements rub against one another, sliding, colliding, dribbling, derailing, caught in the rhythms and consonances of the spoken word ... It is not my intention to present a world "on trial" (Barthes's expression), but to The Art of Michel Yinaver suggest the tiny palpitations which, in the long run, aim at major perturbations ... One must begin by capturing the public's interest, then, gradually, one may be able to bring about a degree of instability. thereby easing the way to an eventual toppling of the system, a transformation of society.4 Yinaver's political position and his involvement with experimental theatre are interlaced, yet the dramatist's social situation as a successful executive in the multinational firm of Gillette seems to be in direct contradiction with his early Brechtian background. As a dramatist intent on exploring revolutionary forms, he challenges the system to which until his recent retirement he belonged in the top levels of management. The author of two novels publisbed by Gallimard, Lataume (1950), and L'Objecteur (1951), Yinaver joined the capitalist establishment when Gillette moved their headquarters from Paris to Annecy. He explains having been hired with no previous experience in the following manner: "I think the reason I was offered thejob was that1told them I had inherited a house in Anneey. My Russian grandfather, a refugee from the Communist Revolution, had purchased this home in 1920.'" Like Brecht, Yinaver comes from the upper middle class, a family of prominent businessmen, attorneys, and intellectuals. In Russia, they were liberal democrats, opponents of c23rism. As members of the upper class intelligentsia, they were also class enemies of Communism. The Yinaver family left for France in the early days of the Revolution. Yinaver's father became a successful antique dealer in Paris. During the Second World War the family emigrated briefly to the United States where Michel Yinaver attended the Lycee Fran~ais in New York. They returned to France at the end of the war. These successive moves, due to political upheaval, left their mark on the writer's psycbe. There is nothing simple about Yinaver's political slant; he does not follow any ideology, and will not conform to a program of action. He is an individualist, a humanist, who belongs to the category most feared and hated by Communism: the cosmopolitan intellectual. In his "Auto...


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