FICTION and INCARNATION: Rhetoric, Theology and Literature in the Middle-Ages
Translation by David Laatsch, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, February 2003,
Introduction: The Christian Epistemological Break
See the latest review by Päivi Mehtonen in the October '03 Rhetorical Review
Modern Language Quaterly 56:2, June 1995 (review on the French version of Fiction and Incarnation)
In spite of the enormous transformations occurring within medieval studies, transformations that revise the internal structure of the field and its most fundamental characteristics, the "Middle Ages" still performs as a cultural icon within the discourse of modernists in an older, manifestly prejudicial sense. It denotes something that never existed, a time of perfect homogeneity, an organic society of unified values, a socius of self-certain confidence in truth revealed and universally engorged along with host and wine. The hierarchy of orders might strike the modernist as undemocratic, but at least all members of society knew their place, accepted it, and performed their lives framed in the comforting confidence of a totalizing justice. Society was gemeinschaft , a shared commonality of values and visions, and even revolutionary traditions shucking off the poisoned gift (Gift, in German, meaning both poison and gift) of religion can appeal nostalgically to its supposed commonality as against the divisive alienations of modern gesellschaft . l
Essential to this fantasy is the role of the intelligentsia - the antecedents of today's intellectuals (pitifully few) and academics (pullulating). In monasteries, cathedral schools, the universities, its members dictated the ideational and cultural foundations for the unified culture of their time. From positions equivalent to "tenure" they produced and controlled the symbolic capital of culture's totality. While few of today's academics would overtly admit to a desire to do likewise, the thirst for power/knowledge and symbolic capital is universal. It has its place in today's academy. But so does its renunciation.
That may be the reason modernists hang on desperately to so superannuated a view of the Middle Ages. Not only does whatever is meant by the phrase, or by its adjectival form medieval, designate the modernist's self-defining other, in a binary functioning well known today, it also designates that part of desire renounced and denied. The "Middle Ages" - not the "reality" of the historical period but the modernist's projection in a collective Imaginary - is that most intimate part of selfhood sacrificed on the altar of a social rationality supporting everything we might characterize as modernity - from aesthetics to politics and economics. It is the denial that defines us as reasonable adults in a reasonable society of reasonable individuals - in a social reasonability all the more precious for the signs of its disintegration.
The nostalgia today for organically institutionalized logocentrism, whether positively endorsed (as in religious fundamentalism) or denied but posited as the self-defining other, serves to define a contrario the supposed openness, the indeterminacy, the gratulatory self-admiration of modern fragmentation, alienation, and historical adventuresomeness. The "Middle Ages" are to the modernist what "Japs" or "Krauts" were to American propaganda in World War II: that ideologeme of a cultural other that allows the construction of its countericon, the heroic academic as free, democratic, and unhappily alienated modernist. The closure modernity imposes on the Middle Ages guarantees the unforeseeability of modernity's adventure and grounds its democratic ideology in contemporary uncertainties as the most fundamental characteristic of knowledge, politics, and their fusions. It legitimates the self-representation of modernity, which excludes closure, hierarchy, repetition, and the conjoined practices of violence and totalization.
Alexandre Leupin's new book, equally attentive to theology and the practices of writing, furnishes a welcome deconstruction of this system of (non)thought. With erudition, a sophistication honed at the tables of contemporary theory, and a ferocious passion for complex, rigorous argumentation, this book cheerfully, determinedly reverses the established problematics of a discipline all too ready to engorge half-truths and oversimplifications in fundamental matters such as the relationship of religion and literature - a special case of the relation between "meaning" and "writing." A received tradition casts medieval literature as publicist for religious propaganda, unproblematically subordinating the adventure of literature to its instrumentalization. In fact, an inherent incompatibility destabilizes their necessary interdependence. Although theology may be dedicated to the pursuit of truth saying about God - an enterprise hollowed out in the paradoxes of negative theology, which can only seem ludicrously fictitious to the nonbeliever - fiction necessarily elaborates structures of narrative that theology cannot but denounce as lies.
Armed with a rhetorical heritage of pagan historicity, Christianity launched a program of converting a continent of nonbelievers, from warriors dedicated to the joys and profits of warfare to peasants engaged in the slow, laborious struggle to make the earth yield wealth and sustenance, autochthonous populations and eastern migrants who held beliefs distant from the revise d Judaism of the new religion. Their ideological resistance drove Christian thinkers into programming fiction and rhetoric as pedagogy and preaching, in a paradox analogous to that of the dualistic, Pauline interpretation of the Incarnation itself. The incorporation of contraries lodged the worm of self-deconstruction at the heart of Christian cultural expansionism.
This thesis, here established as fact, is of capital importance to medievalism and, implicitly, to modernity. Its role in the present Manichean context of exacerbated tensions between fundamentalisms and paralyzed sophistication, between resurgent primitivisms and weakening structures of tolerance and respect based on the recognition of complexity and difference, ought to reach beyond the circles of medievalism. Its importance imposes two immediate requirements: the necessity of its rapid translation into English and its extension into ideational domains only tangential to the book itself. My account will extend the book's discursive arguments into the field of language's others: culture and material social engagements. Indeed, it has already begun to do so. The fundamental thrust of Christian doctrine, as it devolved from Saul-turned-Paul, was to rend any presumed, totalizing cohesion in the individual subject and in the created cosmos, leaving in its stead the cold realities of conflictuality that transgressed the borders of the inner and the outer, of the individual and society, of cultures as praxis and order. What might be the role of writing in this context?
The ultimate problem, located beyond the limits of this courageous and often coruscatingly brilliant book, is posed by the symmetrical paradoxes of fiction and supposedly straight discourse; as they reflect luridly back onto Christian theology. Fiction is far from exhausted by the contemporary definition of "literature" as self-reflexivity, a historical phenomenon that may be recurrent at certain periods. In the very structure of its miscognition and false representation, fiction both speaks truthfully and has truth-effects in a world unready to acknowledge its hypocritical dependence on fictions. On the other hand, the Derridean critique of philosophy applies to theology as well: its supposedly literal discourse rests on as many metaphors as any lyric. For the Nestorian cynic, denying the divinity of Jesus, the Incarnation might figure as a narrative whose ideological baggage ought to be believed, ought to be granted the effectivity of truth, because it is so beautiful a lie. Doctrine - monological, logocentric, and totalizing - develops from the failure of the self-deprecating as if; which might be humanity's closest approach to "truth." In its rigidification, it turns into an icon and instrument of political power.
For Christianity, Cicero and Quintilian perform a rhetorical Eden, although in fact they had dealt with the intersection of language and political issues of law, power, and justice. The institutions that framed and housed rhetoric - the Senate and the law courts - were dead for most of the Christian dispensation. Rhetoric, based on analogical synonymy, is inherently "fictive," spreading in endless metaphoricity. Christian thought attempted its incorporation in an imperfectly successful effort at what Leupin terms "radical homonymization", in which the meaning of all signifiers inherited from Christianity's pagan and Jewish pasts would be rebaptized with new signifieds. Rhetoric is geared to doxa, to the communal definition of "truth", Christianity to transcendent truth and its transmission by literal, "proper" language: their incompatibility is obvious. Tertullian constructs a new dogma, in which the Incarnation must serve as the ultimate, universal ground of language and fiction. Linguistic reference therefore must be exact. But the Incarnation is fused and identified with its gospel accounts, with its text. Linguistic reference, then, is denied by this synonymic identification of sign and referent.
At the opposite pole from homonymy, the Incarnation must be infinitely synonymizable, in all languages past and future. Hence the imperative necessity of limiting the metaphorization that is the rhetorical norm, particularly in its misogynistic associations with femininity, cosmetics, and feminine self-presentation.2 The solution is to avoid the theatricality of pagan fiction, as classical modes of representation are made to provide a de-ethicized, purely formal propaedeutic, circumventing the Luciferian idolatry of art. Of course, this is thought that takes the power of what we denature as aestheticized "literature" far more seriously than the poetasters of modernity.
Augustine encounters the problematic of fiction directly in the autobiographical project of his Confessions . Neither proof nor truth can be attained in writing. Furthermore, verbal polysemy is irreducible to intention. Rather than anticipate the contemporary disseminatory view of writing, however, Augustine elaborates procedures to reduce the uncertain ambiguities of meaning. Depersonalization of the text and the author's death perform as signs of believability. Language has a double lineage: the paternal, turned toward power and honors, at play in the school cursus, demoniacal, seductive, and lying. The Satanism inherent in rhetoric has to be conjured repeatedly in the Confessions, with the elaboration of an ethics of discourse. But this ethics is problematized by the fact that its model, divine language, is a wordless language, a totalizing system of truth performing (between God and angels) in a perfect absence of the signifier.
The maternal lineage leads to conversion but must struggle against the other side of the feminine. Fictional language is essentially female, imaginary, and fornicative in its theatricality. Nonetheless, it must be used to communicate divine will: it's the only language humans have. Homonymy is the answer. Instead of accepting the historicity of the human subject, forced into utterances contaminated by the conjugated pasts of language in the city, the theological Subject invents a new language at slight cost, by claiming that all the words in its language - the same signifiers pronounced by everyone else - bear brand-new signifieds. A "radical homonymy" is instituted, which claims to leave no ambiguity possible, despite the menacing identity of signifiers with the past, merely human language, so utterly polluted by history and literature. The latter is to be placed, in spite of its resistance, "in quotation."
Gospel fiction, gospel rhetoric, are then in perfect homonymy, avoiding the lying status of pagan fiction, distinguished from lying by having no intention to cheat the interlocutor. Since biblical fiction intends the truth, its purified fiction evades the condemnation of pagan lies. The intentionalist solution to the issue of fiction may be an elegant one, though it has been found somewhat troublesome - by Augustine and others. The degree to which its distinguo is accepted depends on the destinatee's belief system. Some, less than fully sympathetic, might insist on dealing with religiously inspired fiction as medieval churchmen dealt with secular fiction, denouncing it as lies and fables. More important, the distinguo hides a properly theoretical problem. If the gospel lie is a truth, two different versions of /truth/ must be at work. Fiction is a lie, insofar as it recounts as an event what never occurred: it is a lie in reference to the "realistic" view of language, in a linguistics insistently "référentielle, chosiste" But the truth this fictive language recounts must then be of a kind different from the linguistic reference to things. That truth exists, not only at the level of things, not at the level of "referents" as objects, but in a realm, ultimately Platonic in derivation, of Ideas or Forms. The Robertsonian hobbyhorse of caritas provides a perfect example. A fictional account may be exemplary of caritas, in illustrating the virtue by a story that is technically a lie, as the events of the story never actually occurred. But caritas belongs to a different realm than things or "real events": it is an ideational Form, no less certain, no less crucial, than the world of object references, but of a different nature. Augustinian linguistics is complex; its notion of reference is not limited to the designation of concrete, material objects. As Leupin notes, the prosopopeia of Augustine's autobiography depends on an authenticity based in turn on the other of language: the Thing, the Real, the Incarnation-terms hardly used to designate the world of real, material things and carnality (the meaning of the diacritical caps) ...though they are Objects of faith and "scientific" deduction.
Martianus Cappella's Marriage of Mercury and Philology may be the last coherent pagan treatise, but, like rhetoric, it was incorporated into the Christian tradition as a constitutive aporia. Its anti-Christian thesis lays the basis for the schizophrenic structure of medieval culture, in which literature resists its homonymization. Its ironic allegory requires a "double mirror" method of reading, with a doubled enunciator deploying continuous irony in a late example of "asiatic" rhetoric, fundamentally opposed to the "chosisme de I'Incarnation" Where Quintilian restricted voluptuousness to literature, for Martianus all knowledge becomes literature and hence the domain of voluptas. Indeed, the synonymic law of metaphor is absorbed into a musicalization that totalizes an aesthetics of discourse. What could be further from a truth- and salvation-oriented ethics of discourse?
Isidore of Seville's Etymologies, in spite of their encyclopedic reach, abandon totalizing ambition. Some words have no traceable etymology, and the only words studied are those of Latin and Greek: all vernaculars are left untouched. If God is the creator of the world, he is the ultimate etymon of all language, the unspeakable Thing that silences all writing. Isidore's specific aporia is to valorize the ancient in the study of etymologies, whereas the content of his message is the radical newness of the new religion. The impossibility of coherent totalization, his crucial heritage for the Middle Ages, catches the very etymology of "fiction": the potter's making, forming, giving shape. The potter par excellence, however, is God himself (Rom. 9.20). Intertwined fiction and theology thus are made part of the myth of the unity of human culture, which the Etymologies invent on the model of the Creation, thereby becoming the acte de naissance of medieval culture.
The account of this complex tradition could obviously be expanded - Cassiodorus is conspicuously absent - but the thrust is clear: the theological tradition is riddled with fundamental aporias. It incorporates its others in a typically bad marriage of inimically constitutive partners. Indeed, it incarnates them! Medieval intellectual history might be recast in terms of the unravelings of aporetic strands held together by theological ambition, burning faith, and a lot of rhetoric, not to mention fiction. Such history will not be written by an enunciator sitting comfortably inside the hermeneutic circle that still encloses many medievalists in the scholarly kitsch of nostalgic identification with the supposed unity and clarity of medieval religion, in consistent disregard for the moral, theoretical, and historical burdens of such self-identification.
As this complex problematic shift from Latin and the ecclesiastical institution into the vernacular world of the laity, it enters a new cultural bath, structured by radically different value systems, even when the subjects nominally declare themselves Christians. What happens to the homonymization imposed upon paganism, and to the ideological program of the Church, seeking a totalized transformation of values by conversion of individuals, culture, and belief, in the bath of the foreign linguistic culture that is, in fact, its major antagonist: that of the values of this world, in which most people operate? The question, by the way, might well be posed of the extension of democratic values to cultures possessing neither the economic nor the social structures and the values of tolerance and generosity assumed by the better moments of "really existing" democracies.
As does any administrative or political entity, the Church manufactured instrumental ideological representations. Clerics legitimized fiction as the vehicle of transmission for theocentric truth in hagiographic exempla, communicating and justifying institutional ideology. The first surviving document to contain Old French, however, is not "literary" but political. The Serments de Strasbourg (842) addresses the problem of establishing loyalty among troops whose leaders have come to a major military and geographical settlement that changes the political face of Europe. The problem thus is ideological: to retain the troops' loyalty and to guarantee observation of the terms of the treaty. Hagiography is not that far removed from the political issues of the oaths that initiate the Old French archive! It will be a major genre for centuries, transmitting ecclesiastical ideology to adhere to its value system and legitimate the exaction of tithes.
Linguistic transposition was an ideological necessity: a vernacular saint's life always adapts a Latin original. Transposition is more than linguistic translation, however. Shifting narrative from one cultural co-text to another does not leave the text untouched, or the doctrinal significations it produces, or the belief it might induce. Something happens on the way to the vernacular, in the intertextual space Leupin calls "silent and virginal", which is the cultural space of code-shifting. In Eulalie narrativity and the figure of the martyr herself are reduced; reflexivity increases, but dissimulated within the vernacular narrative itself, as an integral part of poetic practice. For centuries narrative will incorporate appearances of metatextuality, which remain part of the fiction. It is an incorporated specularity, or an "incarnated" one. Between the ninth and the thirteenth centuries, theoryexists only within the praxis ofwriting itself.3
The text establishes equations that will nourish European literature for centuries. The opposition of body and soul recasts that of the letter and the spirit; the martyr's virginity is the white parchment that allows for the conjunction and assimilation of the masculine, that which writes, and the feminine, that which is written. At the linguistic level, virginity symbolizes the split, the cut, the independence and the sexual difference present at the creation of a new vernacular writing. Eulalie itself, with its linguistic source and reference, is the "unheard-of name of an irreducible alterity" ( nom inoui d'une altérité irréductible), through which clerics return to the maternal linguistic bond, after its repression during the ecclesiastical apprenticeship.
More is at stake than a Proustian recovery of a Lacanian past Religion is an institution as well as a theology. The hagiographic text is also an act, a social act, the expansionary ideological gesture of a totalizing institution, intent on colonizing subject populations with claims of a universal religious message: universality is a claim of all ideologies! Expansionary colonization characterizes not only the Crusades but military expansions to all cardinal points.4 The same impulse toward territorial domination is at work in contemporary fundamentalisms, intent on colonizing women's bodies, for example, and the conversion campaigns typical of a Christianity convinced of the "truth" of its doctrines. Aggression on foreign beliefs was initially focused on subordinated local populations: the Albigensian crusade was not an anomalous exception but a model of internal colonization taken to its logical extreme. Homonymization of language was accompanied by the violent enforcements of conquest, pillage, the extermination of towns and populations, and, of course, the passing of land title to the conquerors.5
Alternative understandings to the Christian were possible: not all laymen were convinced by religious accounts, even the biblical. Leupin cites the story of Jean de Soissons's "disincarnation." At the account of Jesus' suffering and resurrection, the count responded jokingly: " Ecce fabula, ecce ven- tus!" [That's all fable, it's nothing but wind!]. Heresy, even disbelief, was immediate, close to style, right where the Church itself lived. Hence the centuries-long campaigns for its extermination.
The Christian perspective gave the writer of vernacular fictions the negative model of the Cathar, with a Luciferian aesthetics that would, in fact, inspire many medieval writers in the idolatrous pursuit of literary desire. None is so rich in examples as the multiple branches of the Roman de Renart, the very name of whose hero makes him the artist of nothingness (Renart: ren/m = rien, nothing; -art = artifex) .His adventures persistently parody the ecclesiastical order, setting into play lies, trickery, cheating, all the stratagems of mendacity, in an unremittingly negative phantasm constructed with all the resources of medieval misogyny, artificial rhetoric, and narrational perversity. Its logical conclusion is to found an inverse religion, recuperating any and all alterity into the desirous play of signifiers, a parody of Christianity, identifying nothingness with the Thing of all things as their origin and rationale. The writer, rather than a distant and respectful imitator of the divine model in the comfortable hierarchy of a Chartrian Neoplatonism, replaces the Creator as literary discourse contests the Incarnation in an explicit negation.
Leupin 's vernacular texts are all three closely tied to the Church. As we have seen, vernacular hagiography always follows on the tracks of a Latin original, requiring the active participation of a cleric in the scriptorial process. The invention of the Roman de Renart is attributed in early manuscripts to a cleric, one Maitre Pierre de Saint Cloud. Guillaume de Machaut was himself a canon at Rheims. His Livre du voir-dit both displays its fictiveness theatrically and claims the power to say anything and to say it all. Indeed, enunciation is defined as power, as Seigneurie, producing a self-authenticizing "truth" without reference to truth, thanks to its poetic structure. Truth is hidden, hypothetical, aporetic, impossible of complete assertion. Mirroring doublings are a preferred narrative structure. The author - narrator doubles himself in two coffrets, each of which encloses his portrait. One produces a monstrous writing, which abolishes paternity and generation, equating the language of transmission with the originary language. The second mimes the "white writing" of Augustine, making believe it fills the open interstices of an originary language by the very multiplicity of signs. Doubling itself is doubled: his secretary is also a double for the doubled poet. The very notion of the originary is questioned, as the poet falls in love, not with the Lady but with the poem that sings her and with her reputation - an ancient troubadour conceit. Presence dissolves into absences for which letters and poems, themselves often missing, are fetishistic substitutes.
The degree to which these three vernacular texts abandon, pervert, or parody the strictures of theology is even more striking, best accounted for as the shift from an ecclesiastical epistemic context to a vernacular, secular culture, rather than intentional profanation. As Momente, their performances are ambiguous, shared with other texts and other moments, earlier in textual history as well as later. The sequence of discrete moments, inviting the construction of a historical dialectic, represents different moments of a permanent and continuing conflict at the heart of Western civilization and its semiosis, with strong antecedent moments in both the pagan and the Jewish pasts. The conflicting claims of truth and fiction are certainly played out in the Platonic opposition to styler as well as in the extraordinary inclusion of Job and the Song of Songs in the Jewish Bible. To suggest that neither Greek nor Jew addressed the problematic nature of relations between the divine and human life requires polemical oversimplification. The presence of the divine in this world was not invented by one particular Roman crucifixion, either in intellectual or in religious history. The claim that an incarnate god frames a radically new era of history is made, of course, by its early propagators. To note that claim belongs to history; to credit it is a matter of belief.
Leupin's concrete and often brilliant analyses confirm the sense of the enormous distance between theology and what we mistakenly call "literature." This sense was amply asserted in the late sixties and early seventies, in the extensive discussions around Robertsonianism. The present confirmation is most welcome. It reinforces an insistence upon the contradictory nature of medieval culture, in which the first and primary divide is linguistic, between Latin and the vernaculars, inexactly doubling an opposition between religious and secular cultures. It continues an established current of critical reflection, which, inspired by contemporary theory, has pondered the puzzling relations of different medieval textualities, both Latin and vernacular, without the a priori commitment to a unitary cultural theory. Some of its larger historiographical claims, derogating from its own standards of subtlety and complexity, require a more cautious evaluation. They fall back into the mode of piously purified unities, rather than remain conscious of inhabiting the polluted Pharmakopeia in which all is contaminated by its defining contrary. Nevertheless, it is a seminal work of critical scholarship. The vigor of a discipline largely sunk in the torpors of self-protective mediocrity should be well shaken!
The distance between "theology" and "literature" established, later discussions can start off on the basis that much vernacular writing, in France as early as the twelfth century, occurs in a cultural context that is predominantly secular, that is of the saeculum: a world writing, a writing of the world in the world, that constitutes itself and its culture as the other of the established, officially instituted culture of the Church, even as it reproduces, incorporates, and parodies some of its traits. Indeed, the overriding historical task of that writing - recognized in occasional denunciations by perceptive churchmen - was to establish as an institution the secular culture, which, three and four centuries later, the Johnny-come-latelies of the self-styled "renaissance" would claim as their own. The vernacular culture of fiction addressed issues of exchange, power, polity, and justice under the convenient cover of the fictional "lie", issues eluded by most of those concerned with doctrine and theology, though absent neither from their institutional concerns nor from their originary text: see Jesus' love of parables, in Matthew! It is a culture simultaneously transcendent and imbricated in the political life of its time, participating in its defining conflicts. Pari passus, it is the culture we inhabit and continue to transform today: our culture still, as the twentieth century turns into the twenty-first.
Whether this writing, first oral and then inscribed on parchment, should continue to masquerade under the name of "literature" is the question posed to the reader of this journal by this, Leupin's most recent book. If literature designates anything other than practices of writing, if it specifies an institution that came into being with or after the eighteenth century revolutions, acquiring, along with the "arts" in general, a transcendence ultimately inherited from a religious domain whose cultural force was largely spent, then the term, formed for our present modernity by a tradition extending from Baudelaire to Maurice Blanchot, seems a bit limiting. The littburiti of the Middle Ages did not exclude profound connections to cotexts. The self-reflexiveness of the texts is not a closure; it incorporates an openness to the others of "literature" - social, political, even economic history - which is quite remarkable. To raise that question, the most fundamental in literary study, is not one of Leupin's minor virtues but the occasion of a great and joyful debt.
Peter Haidu, University of California, Los Angeles
1 This sociological terminology was introduced by Ferdinand Tonnies ( community and Society -[Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft], trans. Charles P. Loomis [New York: Harper and Row, 1963]) and picked up by Max Weber ( The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, trans. and ed. A M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons [New York: Free Press, 1947], 136ff) ]ean-Luc Nancy has challenged the traditional historiography, which has communitarianism precede alienation, in La Communauté désoeuvrée (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1986).
3 The claim is true in the vernacular, if it and Latin are taken to be separate domains. The claim cohabits uneasily with a continuing Latin tradition and the transformation of grammar and rhetoric into a poetics at the hands of Geoffroy de Vinsauf, if one posits relevance of the two domains (as does Leupin in "Absolute Reflexivity", in Barbarolexis: Medieval Writing and Sexuality [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989] 1-38)
5 In this bloody conflict, to trust the account of a heresy given by the persecutors seems like misplaced charity. It is rather like recommending trust in the Christian charity of the papal legate who, a few years later, resolved the practical problem of whether or not to kill the women and presumably innocent children of Catharist Beziers by urging his interlocutor to kill them all: God would recognize his own!
Cornell University, 4 April 2004
Dear Professor Leupin,
I've just finished writing a review of your Fiction and Incarnation. I had dipped into the French version, but never really appreciated the strenght of the larger argument until now. I'm writing just to say how much I admire the book and your work generally. For years, I've been making my grad students work through the early chapters of Barbarolexis, and I only wish I had been able to read it in the pre-theoretical days when I myself was first trying to express my sense that Martianus, Bernardus Silvestris, Alain, and Geoffrey were wonderful writers.
My thanks for your fine criticism, and all good wishes
Tréguier, 10 mars 94
j'ai bien reçu votre livre et j'en ai lu plus
des deux tiers mais je ne veux pas tarder à vous écrire.
Car vous avez " élevé un monument " (.), et je crois que,
dans une occasion comme celle-là, on n'avertit jamais assez vite
l'auteur qu'il a touché le but. Longue vie, à partir de
là, à toutes vos pensées. (.)
*J'ai encore usé du vous familier de mon enfance, avec autant de spontanéité que tu ferais du tu .
* * *
Yale University, March 28, 1994
I have just received your Fiction et Incarnation
and have quietly perused it.
* * *
(.) " Fiction et incarnation " est assurément
le plus ample et le plus neuf de tes ouvrages; rupture et continuité
avec les productions antérieures (.)