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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Paroles gelées

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Welcome to Paroles gelées! The editorial board would like to thank all of those who helped to make our archives available online and facilitate our transition to online publishing. Special recognition goes to Stacey Meeker for her assistance as Publications Director for the Graduate Student Association at UCLA and to Michelle Tu for designing the new Paroles gelées logo. Further acknowledgements to the many students and staff who contributed to this achievement are available in the Spring 2009 issue of Paroles gelées.


Déclinaison du collectif. Christian Dotremont : de Cobra aux logogrammes

Surrealism involved dialogue between artists and the arts that crossed national boundaries. Likewise inspired by a dedication to collaboration and the ideal of breaking down ontological barriers, Belgian poet Christian Dotremont (1922-1979) founded the Cobra group in 1948. Based on an acronym that designates the cities of its members (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Brussels), the name Cobra demonstrates the goals of the new movement, which sought to transform Surrealism and broaden its scope outside of the Parisian space. Though Cobra painters and poets are best known for their composite experimental artworks, they also experimented inside the same creative space: the canvas. I use these encounters between text and image in a single work to contextualize my analysis of the relationship between poetry and painting in Dotremont’s own art. I illustrate how he integrates the pluralistic Cobra approach to art into the logograms that he first invented in 1962 through his explorations of the materiality of language. I argue that the artistic approach developed by Cobra continues to influence these hybrid poems and to redefine the text as a visual object.

Michel Houellebecq: The Impossibility of Being an Island

Michel Houellebecq has encouraged the French press and media to cast him as an isolated writer with “island status.” Despite his attempts to revolt against trends in criticism since poststructuralism, Houellebecq creates an intertextual “archipelago” that links his work to both literary history and contemporary cultural thought. In addition to making reference to twentieth-century Anglo-Saxon novels and film, Houellebecq employs narrative techniques typical of nineteenth-century realist writers from the French tradition, like Zola, Flaubert, and, especially, Balzac. His use of speculation as a narrative device and his attention to moral defects in his characters could lead readers to believe that he supports a return to Humanist philosophy that shuns literary developments since May ‘68. However, the rebellious stance that appears in his novels and his recently published correspondence with Bernard-Henri Lévy ultimately betrays an engagement with the same literary and cultural ideas against which he attempts to rebel. As a result, Houellebecq illustrates the impossibility of being an island even while depicting himself, like his characters, as a social outcast.

The Collaborative Lens: Robert de Boron’s Overshadowing of Chrétien de Troyes

This article begins by arguing that medieval texts were by nature the product of collaboration due to their conditions of production and the concept of translatio, which required writers in the Middle Ages to derive “authority” from their predecessors. Next, the article analyses how Robert de Boron modified Le Conte du graal in order to turn it into a Christian tale. Rather than enriching interpretations of the work, his rewriting misled readers for centuries to interpret the grail in Chrétien de Troyes? text as a holy object. With this process in mind, the article defines a “collaborative lens” as the filter by which the perspective of a single author is imposed on a text with multiple authors. It argues that the collaborative lens not only corrupts our understanding of the “original” work, but also affects its future reinterpretations. Comparing medieval translatio to current-day intertextuality, it demonstrates that they both call into question dominant notions of “originality.” Finally, it draws on scholarship by Howard Bloch, Michelle Freeman and Zrinka Stahuljak in order to situate the “collaborative lens” within existing frameworks for “genealogies” in Medieval Literature.

La collaboration littéraire sous Louis XIV, expression d’une communauté – Logique de Port-Royal (1662) et Psyché (1671)

This article explores the nature of collaboration under the early reign of Louis XIV. Whereas absolute monarchy tended to discourage the interpersonal cooperation required for collective projects, this study focuses on literary works that resulted from private collaborations and the spontaneous blend of multiple authors’ talents. In this aim, it analyzes La Logique de Port-Royal, by Arnauld and Nicole, as well as Psyché, a ballet drama co-written by Molière and Corneille. These two works highlight distinct forms of collaboration based on differing motivation and working relationships. On the one hand, friendship between the two authors of La Logique preceded their decision to create a joint project. It inspired them to forge and fuse their thoughts to the benefit of the coherence of the work, leading even their names to recede into the anonymity of their combined thoughts. On the other hand, the need to produce a play rapidly for royal entertainment motivated the authors of Psyché to divide the task: Corneille completed scenes for a plot already devised by Molière alone. Although their collaboration brings together texts that each author wrote independently, a common goal arose from the prestige of satisfying royal request. These two literary collaborations involve different concepts of community that engage the audience in divergent ways. Yet, both demonstrate a commitment to sharing that proves essential to the community and serves as the fundamental basis for creative writing.