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L'écrivain, le savant et le philosophe

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Eveline Pinto

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Christophe Charle, “The social novelist as ‘shine sociologist’ between survey and literature: the example of Zola and L’Argent

1During the Romantic period, literature claimed, in particular fiction, to be used as an ideal or realist mirror of historical and social aspirations. Thus, the social novelist renounces to please the reader as in the classical aesthetics or to provoke emotions as in romanticism. He intends to reveal, to denounce or to demonstrate, which leads, rather frequently to misunderstanding or difficulties of reception for novels corresponding to these goals.

2Zola accepted this program, built his cycle according to it, and systematized their procedures, borrowing from social surveys and press reporters, their manner of gathering informations about social groups. The first part shows how this shine sociology, present in social novels, emerged and for what reasons. The second part analyses a singular book, L’Argent (Money). It allows to see how these elements are combined but also let appear unsolved tensions. It is more and more difficult for the novelist to conciliate objectivist and subjectivist viewpoints to describe contemporary society, since the author, himself, cannot escape to the bias induced by his specific position in intellectual field, and more generally, in the field of power.

Joseph Jurt, “Flaubert and historical knowledge”

3The 19th century was the century of history; historians tried to detect a continuity beyond the political disruptions by postulating 1) collective subjects-the people, the nation, Humanity-and 2) a teleological orientation towards a liberation. Flaubert refers to historiography as science which has to provide against the danger of metaphysical speculations. So, history is present in Madame Bovary although there are no explicit allusions to political events. The oppositions between the different social forces do not go beyond themselves. Flaubert rejects the idea of an intelligibility of the succession of events, which, from his point of view, is a metaphysical way of thinking. The fundamental conflict between life and death in Salammbô is shown as the antithesis of two forces of nature and does not lead to a kind of dialectics. Flaubert is able to show here the radical strangeness of the Phoenician Antiquity. In spite of many allusions to historical events in L’Education sentimentale, Flaubert dissociates himself from the concept of continuity cherished by the historians of his time. But he does not believe in a disordered world either. Instead he puts the discontinuity into a form by inventing a coherence on the poetic level.

Eveline Pinto, “Virginia Woolf, ‘the author’ s point of view’ and the literary construction of the real world”

4A work of fiction obeys a specifically literary scheme and cannot be read as an account of speculative theses. Thus, Virginia Woolf s art is not more a poetic translation of the problem of philosophical realism than a variation on the theme of the aporias of Augustinian time. It originates in a paradoxical literary choice, that of a “realist formalism”, which is a denial of realist aesthetics and of the social novel. And yet, in one of the latter essays, the analyses of “point of view” or angle of vision of English writers between World War I and World War II, of their beliefs and their habits, give rise to a posture which is akin to that of a reflexive and critical sociologist. This sociological guessing, made explicit by the essay, appears as the structure and latent organization principle of the novels. This is what is studied about Jacob’s Room, an ironical description of the intellectual habit incorporated at Cambridge, and about Mrs. Dalloway, in which the author gives marks so as to build up this social space called “field of power”.

Jacques Bouveresse, “Robert Musil, the task of literature and the social fonction of the writer”

5There is an evident similarity between some of the descriptions and analyses of Musil in The Man without Qualifies and the work which could be done by a critical sociologist on the same material. Musil can indeed be considered as a writer who was naturally predisposed by his particular situation to become a sociologist of the literary world and a sociologist in general. The paper examines the way the idea he had of the possibilities and duties of literature and the considerable difficulties he had to face in his struggle for literary recognition may have contributed to lead him to a deep and original reflection on the condition of the writer and the artist in the contemporary world and the relation of the society to literature and to spiritual things in general.

Jean-Pierre Cometti, “The novel and the inner man. Remarks on novelistic literature and introspection”

6The novel, like other literary genres and art forms, is a source of knowledge, which this paper will attempt to demonstrate by concentrating in particular on the statute of the inner in novelistic literature. Unlike philosophies which traditionally call upon resources of consciousness, intuition and lived experience, the novelist entrusts the task of exploring inner to fiction, thus renewing its meaning and in a sense discovering its nature. Seen from the standpoint of this relationship, the novelist’s art is surprisingly congruent with Wittgenstein’s later analyses and suggestions.

Yves Michaud, “Literary conceptual resources: some hypotheses (about Huxley’s Brave new world)”

7The paper addresses two questions: is there a specificity of the literary medium when it comes to analysing social and political issues which also are objects for the philosopher? If there is such a specificity, where does it come from: what are the resources of literature as a tool for conceptual analysis? The paper attempts at answering these two questions through a systematic comparison of Huxley’s Brave New World and contemporary philosophical contributions such as Russell’s A Scientific Outlook.

Pascale Casanova, “Literature and philosophy: structural misunderstanding and double instrumentalization. The case of Samuel Beckett”

8The interpretation of Beckett’s work in France is a paradigm of the power relations that caracterize the relationships between literature and philosophy. As a matter of fact, philosophers –among them Maurice Blanchot and Gilles Deleuze– appropriated Beckett’s texts. Thus, they imposed philosophical methods and issues to literary texts, producing a meaning which hides systematically the literary specificity. On the reverse, Beckett himself made a great use of philosophical texts in his work; more precisely, he made a non-philosophical use (that means a literary use) of philosophical texts (particularly of Berkeley and Geulincx). That’s the reason why we proposed to speak here of a “double instrumentalization”.

Jean-Marie Klinkenberg, “Poetry and science: one knowledge?”

9The hypothesis which is defended here is that the very form of literary language constitutes not only an instrument to know the world, but also a tool to change cognitive and social values. The study of the atomic unit of literary language –the figure– shows that it has a powerfully hermeneutic function, which brings it closer to a scientific approach. Rhetoric knowledge and scientific knowledge share a common basis: although their distinction remains relevant, it is essentially a pragmatic difference.

Jeffrey Mehlman, “Paul Valéry, between craniometrics and critic”

10A consideration of the euvre of Valery in terms of the intersection between literature, philosophy, and a “social science” known as “anthroposociology” toward the end of the 19th century. Attention will be paid to a “craniometric” fantasia of European Intelligence as well as to the poet’s “tearwork”, figure of the threat posed by the diffusion of that Intelligence to regions of the world more statistically significant than Europe itself. The argument will end with a reading of “Le Yalou”, an anticipation of Valery’s mediterranean masterwork “Le Cimetiere marin” –but unexpectedly transposed to an asian setting.

Gisèle Sapiro, “The principle of sincerity and the writer’s ethics of responsibility”

11It was through the affirmation of specific values linked to their artistic practice, such as defense of beauty, truth, sincerity, probity, disinterestedness, responsibility, that writer’s claim for autonomy against the economic, political and religious powers expressed itself. This article analyses the writers’ deontology through the value of truth, that was common to the new professions which claimed their autonomy in its name, and that of sincerity, which is more specific to the occupation of writer. It focuses on three moments. The first one is when writers affirmed an ethics of responsibility opposed to the social conception of the writer’s responsibility as defined by the public prosecutor in the 19th century trials for outrage to high morals. The principle of sincerity as ethics of responsibility of the artist was illustrated in André Gide’s autobiographical enterprise, which is examined in the second part. At last, the purge trials after Worl War II implied a paradoxical social recognition of the writers’ deontology of sincerity.

Anne Simonin, “Pierre Drieu La Rochelle’s suicide: literary strategy, judicial strategy?”

12Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, the most famous collaborator among french writers, commited suicide during the Liberation of France. His suicide could be considered in many ways. The point of this article is to focus on its political consequences and to show that ail the writers who accepted to work with him at La Nouvelle Revue Française were, during the so-called epuration, enforced smooth sentences because of it.

Jean-Pierre Salgas, “Witold Gombrowicz, a weightless sociologist”

13Even if he quotes once the name of Bourdieu, Witold Gombrowicz did not know his work. At the contrary, Pierre Bourdieu knew rather well the books of the polish writer. The aim of this article is to show how the permanent objectivation of the author of Ferdydurke, leads him very near the “field sociology” of the author of The rules of art.

Anna Boschetti, “Olivier Cadiot’s realist formalism: the questions of possibilities and the role of research today”

14In the analysis he dedicated to Flaubert’s and Baudelaire’s work, Pierre Bourdieu defined their aesthetics as a “realist formalism”, based on “the conciliation of possibilities that was wrongly separated by the dominant art’s representation”. In fact, “it is the ‘pure’ work on the ‘pure’ form, formal exercise par excellence, that produces, as by magic, a reality more real than that is immediately perceivable by senses”. But it is not easy to get rid of very resistant mental schemes: the opposition formalism/realism is still very strong today, so that it risks to hide the main contribution that formal researches can give to the world’s knowledge. The work of Olivier Cadiot is a good example of “realist formalism”, because, far from validating the prejudices about the gratuity of formal work and its ethic neutralism, it gives new answers to questions such as the literature’s relationship with the reality and its social function.

© Éditions de la Sorbonne, 2003

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