Caderea, de Albert Camus

Editura: Rao, 2009, limba: romana, traducere din franceza de Georgeta Horodinca

Cat curaj, nu? In mod normal nu m-as fi apropiat de cartea asta nici sa fiu platita, din cauza unei imagini distorsionate pe care o am despre Camus in urma unor lecturi care in amintirile mele de-a lungul anilor au devenit extraordinar de deprimante, desi in timp ce eram in mijlocul lor eram cat se poate de multumita. Nu stiu exact cum sa explic efectul asta, si cu Sartre mi se intampla la fel. Probabil ca subiectele in sine sunt ingrozitor de pedante, dar cartile sunt asa de bine scrise incat atunci cand te afunzi in ele ai un oarecare sentiment de confort care contracareaza norul de disperare in care sunt invaluite lumile lor. Si tocmai motivul pentru care scriu aici despre Caderea este printre altele ca sa imi aduc aminte ca nu Camus este problema ci amintirea lui Camus, si deci a-l citi nu provoaca depresia, ci ocazional cand ma voi gandi la carte o voi vedea probabil sub o lumina deprimanta, ma voi intreba cum am putut sa o citesc si asta imi va spori admiratia fata de propria persoana fiindca iata cand vreau ma mobilizez. Deci numai consecinte pozitive. Oricum ar fi, nici o sansa pe lume ca eu sa fi citit romanul in alte circumstante decat cele care s-au prezentat sambata asta: vineri seara m-am vazut cu coordonatoarea de doctorat care a facut niste eforturi fara vlaga si de forma sa ma motiveze. Chiar si asa, de mantuiala, tentativele au functionat intrucatva (ma intreb de ce ar fi capabila sa trezeasca in mine daca si-ar da intr-adevar interesul) si m-am gandit, cum subiectul tezei mele este fix caderea (don’t ask), ca poate ar fi bine sa citesc acest roman, chiar daca s-ar dovedi ca nu are nimic de-a face (are un pic de tot). Si apoi, a doua zi, mergand spre Grenoble cu trenul, nu aveam nici casti nici cartea pe care o citesc acum, doar Kindle-ul care contine o lista de carti intitulata ‘De citit pentru Stefana’ si in capul listei, la A de la Albert, fix asta. Asa ca am strans din dinti si m-am apucat.

Evident, din moment ce scriu despre ea, intr-un final mi-a placut. Probabil mi-ar fi placut mai mult cand eram adolescenta, am avut aceeasi senzatie citind Lupul de Stepa de Hesse. Intreg romanul este un monolog, ghicim replicile care i se dau naratorului/monologatorului/ personajului, insa ele sunt trecute sub tacere de scriitor, sunt foarte rare si singurul lor rol este, pe langa cel de a declansa raspunsuri care altfel s-ar fi strecurat mai greu in monolog, sa scuture din cand in cand cititorul un pic toropit de atata vorbarie. Didacticismul nu este foarte deranjant fiindca de la un moment dat se disipeaza intr-un delir  religios febril a carui autenticitate a ramas in mintea mea neclara. Ambiguitatea asta am impresia m-a facut sa continui si sa imi creasca interesul fata de personaj; asta si, ca de obicei, ambianta generala care inoata in fum si ceturi fiindca totul se petrece intr-un bar sordid din Amsterdam, sau pe insule friguroase si umede in jurul orasului.

by Caliap

Personajul atat de volubil care este urmarit prin spelunci si prin porturi este un amestec complex de farsor, profet, filosof, burghez cumsecade si adolescent intarziat. In jurul lui, celelalte personaje care intra ocazional in raza vizuala, sunt fantome cu trasaturi nedefinite care provoaca o usoara agitatie in ceata inconjuratoare, insa nimic de natura sa lase urme sau consecinte. Prin comparatie, personajul interlocutorului tacut pare mai usor identificabil de-a lungul romanului, (pentru ca la sfarsit sa fie de-a dreptul clar, dar asta e alta poveste, fiindca imi voi fi credincioasa mie insami si nu voi vorbi despre final nici macar aici unde nu conteaza chiar asa mult) probabil fiindca cititorul este uimit de adresarea directa care il face sa asume in mod inconstient pozitia ascultatorului. De aici pana a empatiza cu personajul absent, rabdator si silentios nu e decat un pas. Toate procedeele sau trucurile sau stratagemele astea converg catre o singura consecinta, foarte surprinzatoare in ceea ce ma priveste: am ajuns sa imi pun intrebari in legatura cu viata si comportamentul meu, si sa imi inscenez dileme morale cu iz masochist ca sa imi demonstrez ca sunt o vaca. Toate astea sunt reactii pe care nu le-am mai avut de multa vreme in legatura cu o carte, fiindca sunt la un stadiu foarte insolent al existentei si tocmai de aceea spuneam ca probabil acum vreo zece ani romanul ar fi lasat o impresie inca si mai puternica asupra constiintei mele. Nu stiu daca sa ma bucur sau nu ca l-am citit abia acum.

Fiindca toata aceasta confesiune demonstreaza ca orice gest este interesat, ca orice dovada de altruism este rizibila, ca viata de cuplu este o tortura si ca ipocrizia ne mananca din interior pana ne lasa goliti de substanta. Nimic nou sub soare, nu? Cu atat mai mult, impactul pe care lectura asta l-a avut asupra mea este remarcabil fiindca am prins obieciul sa ma detasez de toate discursurile similare, ca o cititoare experimentata si pe alocuri blazata care sunt. Camus m-a luat insa prin surprindere, cu forta si cu hotarare si m-a scuturat profund de cateva ori pana mi-am venit in simtiri adica pana cand am inceput sa resimt ce spune si sa ma gandesc ca cine stie, poate el de fapt nu e deprimant, e realist. Nu cred ca acum cei care citesc ceea ce am scris se vor inghesui in biblioteci si librarii cautand Caderea, nu cred ca suna foarte apetisant;  insa nadajduiesc ca nu am produs efectul contrar si ca daca o sa dati vreodata din intamplare peste aceasta carte, o voi numerosi si entuziasti cititori ai mei, nu o luati la fuga urland. Cititi-o si pe asta, mai ales daca va simtiti prea bine.


Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Yes, that. Because I have absolutely no time on my hands these days (moving to an apartment with nothing in it requires a great deal of effort, dedication and hesitations on the Ikea website followed by long lines in the Ikea store) but because I miss my blog and the writing, even if it hasn’t been that long since my last post. I also missed the music of a Coleridge poem and so I decided to paste it here just to remind myself of it and to sing the praise of the wonderful iambic pentameter without which the world would be a dreadful place. So here goes, be hypnotized ye mortals:

KUBLA KHAN

  In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
  A stately pleasure-dome decree:
  Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
  Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.                                             5
  So twice five miles of fertile ground
  With walls and towers were girdled round:
  And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
  Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
  And here were forests ancient as the hills,                         10
  Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

  But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
  Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
  A savage place! as holy and enchanted
  As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted                           15
  By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
  And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
  As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
  A mighty fountain momently was forced:
  Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst                             20
  Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
  Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
  And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
  It flung up momently the sacred river.
  Five miles meandering with a mazy motion                            25
  Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
  Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
  And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
  And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
  Ancestral voices prophesying war!                                   30

 The shadow of the dome of pleasure
      Floated midway on the waves;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
      From the fountain and the caves.
  It was a miracle of rare device,                                    35
  A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

      A damsel with a dulcimer
      In a vision once I saw:
      It was an Abyssinian maid,
      And on her dulcimer she played,                                 40
      Singing of Mount Abora.
      Could I revive within me.
      Her symphony and song,
      To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
  That with music loud and long,                                      45
  I would build that dome in air,
  That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
  And all who heard should see them there,
  And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
  His flashing eyes, his floating hair!                               50
  Weave a circle round him thrice,
  And close your eyes with holy dread,
  For he on honey-dew hath fed,
  And drunk the milk of Paradise.



La Main gauche, de Guy de Maupassant

Editeur : Gallimard , 1999, Langue : Français

Il y a un an ou deux, prise dans les tourments créateurs provoqués par la rédaction de mon mémoire de Master 1 ou 2, je lisais Le rire de Bergson en essayant de découvrir de mon pouvoir visionnaire que je surestime régulièrement l’indécouvrable: la formule du comique. Et alors, pendant que je cherchais la gloire d’une contribution décissive à la réflection académique dans le domaine, pénétrée par l’importance de ma mission, et la mienne aussi implicitement, je tombe sur un truc qui me destabilise et me montre d’un coup la rélativité de ma condition. Oui, une révélation, carrément. Sur les pages de ce livre emprunté à la bibliothèque, un étudiant bien pensant et indigné avait souligné de trois grosses lignes en crayon la phrase “et pourquoi rit-on d’un nègre?” (page 32 dans l”édition PLON) ainsi que l’explication qui disait que “le nègre” était perçu comme un blanc déguisé, en devenant ainsi irresistiblement comique. Trois gros points d’interrogation accompagnaient la diatribe silencieuse  de l’étudiant contre ce qu’il considérait sans l’ombre d’un doute le racisme extrême de Bergson. Bien sûr, au début j’ai souri devant son manque de perspective historique et ça m’a donné un très révigorant sentiment d’autosatisfaction. Ma réaction suivante a été de remettre en question tous les principes qu’on tient aujourd’hui pour vrais et absolus, et de m’imaginer comment on sera tous sans doute dans le futur dans la posture de ce pauvre Bergson, victimes des limitations de notre société et de nos convictions.  Donc, mon Master n’aura certainement aucune valeur dans le temps, donc facebooooooooooooook.

Récemment, je me suis confrontée à une indignation similaire et très vive, spontanée, en lisant certaines des nouvelles de Maupassant. Cette fois, le sentiment m’appartenait et il restait là en dépit de mes efforts de tout remettre en perspective, afin de ne pas répéter l’erreur de cet étudiant dont je me souvenais très bien. Comme le sentiment m’appartenait et que je pensais malgré tout avoir un peu de raison (je pense toujours avoir raison, même si je dis le contraire), j’ai eu plus de patience à l’analyser et à contempler les choses qu’on demande de nos “génies” réconnus. On leur demande une clarté de vision qui soit parfaitement en concordance avec ce qu’on considère aujourd’hui vrai, clair, net et bon. N’importe quand ils sont nés, ni autres circonstances. Si ce n’est pas toujours le cas, et s’ils n’ont pas su comment faire une sélection favorable des principes qui seraient bons à étaler cent ans plus tard aussi,  on la fait nous, maintenant, honteux, en espérant que les jeunes à qui on enseigne certains oeuvres ne trouveront pas les autres. En faisant comme s’ils n’existaient pas. J’ai senti que c’était un peu le cas de Maupassant aussi: à 16 ans, on lit Bel Ami au lycée en France, mais est-ce qu’on va plus loin? J’en sais vraiment rien, mais j’ai bien l’impression que non. Pas en Roumanie, en tout cas. Et alors, de manière automatique et très comique,(selon Bergson, on pourrait être accusé de mécanicité en se faisant de telles réflections donc ça devient risible) on plonge dans une indignation bien apprise devant certaines propositions à connotations racistes et xénophobes. On se doit un pas en arrière pour se redresser et se rapeller que ce n’était pas du tout mais du tout le même monde que le nôtre et que sa vision colonialiste et déformée des pays africains correspondait à un point de vue plutôt ouvert de l’époque, fasciné par l’exotisme, et par la soit-disante animalité des hommes du sud. Ce mouvemet orientaliste, dès qu’on l’accepte et qu’on n’est plus intimidé par sa dimension outrageusement politically incorrect, devient assez fascinant et suscite une imagerie foisonnante, belle même.

La force de Maupassant réside principalement dans ses descriptions, je crois. Mon passage préféré est de loin celui de la pêche nocturne en Algérie, dans les eaux de la Méditérannée, à la lumière des flambeaux selon une coutume locale et à une température insupportable.  Des miliers de créatures sortent à la surface, sont capturées et sont partiellement éclairées par les flammes pendant leur agonie. Toutes semblent être surgies de cette énergie du Sud que le narrateur, (et cette fois l’auteur aussi, on le sent), voit comme inexhaustible et rampante, renouvelable et dangereuse. Même mourantes ces belles créatures sans nom, ont l’air farouche et fier et menaçant, des vraies incarnations d’une force vitale incompréhensible aux yeux clairs et propres de l’européen. Les nouvelles ou “contes”, comme Maupassant les appelle, ont souvent le fil narratif tout simple et clair. Les digressions ne sont pas fréquentes, ni l’invention ou les artifices de style. Par contre, comme c’est souvent le cas avec les écrivains de la fin du XIX-ème siècle, qu’ils se caractérisent comme réalistes ou pas, la force de la narration vient justement de l’universalité des sujets abordés, de la véracité des histoires et de leur impact direct et immédiat sur le lecteur. Des histoires des mariages rompus, des maris trompés, d’enfants abandonnés, se succédent dans ce volume sans sombrer dans l’ennui ou le généralisme. C’est grâce aux personnages, j’en suis sûre. Maupassant dessine des figures complexes et contradictoires et fascinantes dans quelques lignes juste et au cours de ce livre je me suis souvent trouvée extrêmement surprise par leur comportement. Le plus déroutant c’est qu’on peut les voir, pourtant, comme des personnages type. Le paysan riche, la jeune ingénue, la courtisane algérienne ne sont jamais réduits à la caricature par leurs caractéristiques les plus pregnantes justement parce que ces traits sont toujours compensés par d’autres qui semblent les contredire tout en les accentuant. Beaucoup de finesse et une vraie écoute et du respect pour l’humanité en général sont évidents de ces portraits, donc il serait vraiment injuste de se limiter à ces divagations qu’aujourd’hui on considère racistes en lisant Maupassant. Je me fais donc une très publique et sincère mea culpa, en demandant des excuses pour mon attitude de journaliste (oui, pas de plus grande insulte dans mon vocabulaire) hystérique écervelée scandalisée par des phrases qu’il y a 20 ans on aurait considére comme innocentes. Pardon, Guy.


The Apple Tree by John Galsworthy

Nonsuch Publishing, August 1, 2005, Language: English

Right, so anyone who knows me knows that I have a penchant for the classics and that I manage to appreciate novels that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with, well,  life now and today. One of the things I adore about books is that they manage to make me go back in time; I never want to go forward, just back. Science fiction is lost on me, but I sure like my Victorians (yes, I do know that Gaslworthy comes a bit later, I don’t mean just him). I am all for quaint, bucolic adventures on the moors, or at least what seems as such to other people, for to me they are mostly disturbing tales of great psychological insight and the best escapism there is. Fluid writing, intelligent observation and wit as well as a good dose of confidence preventing the author from falling into the trap of gimmicks make an enjoyable reading experience for me. I really appreciate my friends who love fantasy and science fiction and I hope to one day open myself more to these genres, since I really do feel that I am missing out. Maybe this blog will help, but until then, let’s talk about John Galsworthy’s Apple Tree.

Let’s be clear from the start: I am not going to pretend that this short story is mind blowing, that it made me rethink my views on the world or that it changed my life. However, not all books are supposed to do that : I love a relaxing read with a certain flowiness to it that transports me for one afternoon and never once makes me cringe. It is a simple story about spring, love and all those things that come with it. Also, a hint of darkness and cruelty,  a dramatic ending and a short meditation on memory and the passage of time. Nothing never heard of before. But (and here’s when I start to sound like that old lady we all know) the descriptions of nature, of spring nights, of the flowered trees and of innocent maidens wandering on the moors or around candlelight parlours lulled me to a place of harmony and serenity which is so perfect it’s tacky. We do need this, though, don’t we?

The main character, one of those too well educated, too well-off youths with nothing much to do, discovers his own power and the extent of his hypocrisy within the space of one month of April (which, as we all know, is the cruelest month). What is interesting to follow in the character’s development is the lowering of his self esteem from the first paragraph to the last, the loss of his innocence perceived by his own eyes. Righteous at first, comparing himself favourably to his coarser, less sensitive travel companion, he goes on to admitting he is a scoundrel within the space of a few weeks and finding excuses for it with the easiness of a Ibsen character.  The final blow to his barely salvaged self image comes years later, as he is experienced enough to be fully aware of his scoundrelness and likely not forget it to the end of his days. The other characters are, on the other hand, a bit flat. The two female characters perfectly complement each other, being complete opposites, with an obviousness that is not even awkward: it just goes without saying.

There is also a hint of a remnant of Romanticism about this short story. Often mocked and turned around by the main character, the tendency towards idealizing the past (ahem, I know) and getting lost in considerations on the savage beauty of the elements and the purity of the simple folk is nonetheless there. For some reason, though, this did not bother me: I saw it as proof of an exquisite optimism, of that beginning of the century belief in the better nature of man when left to his own devices and unspoiled by civilization and education.  The kind of belief that Isadora Duncan’s dancing stemmed from, or Nietzsche’s convoluted reasoning. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that the story was written in 1916 and the Great War was just starting to give further proof that men were all beastly regardless of education and that savage was not such a fascinating thing to be after all.

Oh, and before you jump to any conclusions: no hint of the war in this short story. We feel it’s not there, not just yet. The Belle Epoque glides understatedly on, serving as a perfect background to this story about becoming an adult. It’s only too bad that it takes roughly one afternoon to read, one afternoon to write about it, and then one is left with the ruthless October rain which seems to characterize a month that is nonetheless crueler than April. It’s really cold and the wind is blowing and really, The Apple Tree bears no resemblance to real life whatsoever. Thankfully.

The countryside and apple trees made me think of this