Canadian Cultural Exchange / Échanges culturels au Canada
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Canadian Cultural Exchange / Échanges culturels au Canada

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294 pages

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The essays in Canadian Cultural Exchange / Échanges culturels au Canada provide a nuanced view of Canadian transcultural experience. Rather than considering Canada as a bicultural dichotomy of colonizer/colonized, this book examines a field of many cultures and the creative interactions among them. This study discusses, from various perspectives, Canadian cultural space as being in process of continual translation of both the other and oneself.

Les articles réunis dans Canadian Cultural Exchange / Échanges culturels au Canada donnent de l’expérience transculturelle canadienne une image nuancée. Plutôt que dans les termes d’une dichotomie biculturelle entre colonisateur et colonisé, le Canada y est vu comme champ où plusieurs cultures interagissent de manière créative. Cette étude présente sous de multiples aspects le processus continu de traduction d’autrui et de soi-même auquel l’espace culturel canadien sert de théâtre.



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Date de parution 07 avril 2011
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781554586561
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Canadian Cultural Exchange
changes culturels au Canada
Cultural Studies Series
Cultural Studies is the multi- and interdisciplinary study of culture, defined anthropologically as a way of life, performatively as symbolic practice, and ideologically as the collective product of media and cultural industries, i.e., pop culture. Although Cultural Studies is a relative newcomer to the humanities and social sciences, in less than half a century it has taken interdisciplinary scholarship to a new level of sophistication, reinvigorating the liberal arts curriculum with new theories, new topics, and new forms of intellectual partnership.
The Cultural Studies series includes topics such as construction of identities, regionalism/nationalism, cultural citizenship, migration, popular culture, consumer cultures, media and film, the body, postcolonial criticism, cultural policy, sexualities, cultural theory, youth culture, class relations, and gender.
The Cultural Studies series from Wilfrid Laurier University Press invites submission of manuscripts concerned with critical discussions on power relations concerning gender, class, sexual preference, ethnicity, and other macro and micro sites of political struggle.
For further information, please contact the Series Editor:
Jodey Castricano
Department of Critical Studies
University of British Columbia Okanagan
3333 University Way
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7
Canadian Cultural Exchange Translation and Transculturation
changes culturels au Canada Traduction et transculturation
Edited by / Sous la direction de NORMAN CHEADLE LUCIEN PELLETIER
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program for our publishing activities.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Canadian cultural exchange : translation and transculturation / edited by Norman Cheadle, Lucien Pelletier = changes culturels au Canada : traduction et transculturation / sous la direction de Norman Cheadle, Lucien Pelletier.
(Cultural studies series)
Texts in English and French.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-88920-519-2
1. Translating and interpreting-Canada. 2. Canadian literature-Translations-History and criticism. 3. Literature-Translations-History and criticism. 4. Multiculturalism-Canada. 5. Cross-cultural studies-Canada. I . Cheadle, Norman, 1953- II . Pelletier, Lucien, 1958- III . Title: changes culturels au Canada. IV . Title: Translation and transculturation. V . Title: Traduction et transculturation. VI . Series: Cultural studies series (Waterloo, Ont.)
FC95.C339 2007 418 .020971 C2007-902336-3E
Cover art: Bailamos! by Michel Galipeau (1953-2006). An important participant in the cultural movement of Nouvel-Ontario since the 1970s, Galipeau and his work ceaselessly evolved across artistic and cultural boundaries. His works are found in collections throughout Canada, Great Britain, Spain, and C te d Ivoire. Bailamos! now forms part of the Shriver-King collection in Sudbury.
Illustration de la page couverture : Bailamos! , par Michel Galipeau (1953-2006). Michel Galipeau a t un important acteur dans le mouvement culturel du Nouvel-Ontario d s les ann es 1970. Sa production a sans cesse volu la crois e des arts et des cultures. Ses uvres font partie de collections au Canada, en Grande-Bretagne, en Espagne et en C te-d Ivoire. Bailamos! fait maintenant partie de la collection Shriver-King Sudbury.
Cover design by P.J. Woodland. Text design by Catharine Bonas-Taylor.
2007 Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada,
Repatriating Arthur Nortje 2007 George Elliott Clarke

This book is printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper (100% post-consumer recycled).
Printed in Canada
Every reasonable effort has been made to acquire permission for copyright material used in this text, and to acknowledge all such indebtedness accurately. Any errors and omissions called to the publisher s attention will be corrected in future printings.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit or call toll free to 1-800-893-5777.
Table of Contents / Table des mati res
Introduction by Norman Cheadle
I TRANSITIVE CANADA (1): From where to here? / UN CANADA TRANSITIF (1). En amont
La voix de l Autre dans certains r cits de voyages de l Ouest canadien au temps de la Nouvelle-France par Alexandra Kinge et Alan MacDonell
The Creative Translator: Textual Additions and Deletions in A Martyr s Folly by Albert Braz
I am become Aaron : George Elliott Clarke s Execution Poems and William Shakespeare s Titus Andronicus by Susan Knutson
Latin-Americanizing Canada by Jos Antonio Gim nez Mic
Transculturation and Cultural Exchange in Jane Urquhart s Away and Eden Robinson s Monkey Beach by Shelley Kulperger
Transculturation in George Elliott Clarke s Whylah Falls : or, When Is It Appropriate to Appropriate? by Laurence Steven
Repatriating Arthur Nortje by George Elliott Clarke
I Write My Self: The Female Body as a Site of Transculturation in the Short Stories of Carmen Rodr guez by Carol Stos
Cantique du corps m tis. La critique du mythe colonial dans Cantique des plaines de Nancy Huston par Jimmy Thibeault
La migration culturelle de Robert Dickson Propos recueillis par Lucien Pelletier
A Reduced Solitude: Eugen Giurgiu s Ewoclem sau ntortocheatele c r ri [Ewoclem, or The Twisted Paths] as Romanian-Canadian Literature by Stephen Henighan
Polylingual Identities: Writing in Multiple Languages by Hugh Hazelton
La " latinit des Qu b cois l preuve par Victor Armony
Canadian Counterpoint: Don Latino and Do a Canadiense in Jos Leandro Urbina s Collect Call (1992) and Ann Ireland s Exile (2002) by Norman Cheadle
Appendix : The Uninvited Guest by Ann Ireland
V TRANSITIVE CANADA (2): From here to where? / UN CANADA TRANSITIF (2). En aval
Translating North and South: Elizabeth Bishop, Biography, and Brazil by Neil Besner
Dry Lips Moves to Tokyo: Does Indigenous Drama Translate? by Beverley Curran
Out of the Shadows: Translators Take Centre Stage by Judith Woodsworth
Postface. Transculturation et m moire par Lucien Pelletier
List of Contributors / Liste des collaborateurs
Name Index / Index onomastique
Subject Index / Index des mati res
Acknowledgements / Remerciements
L es directeurs de cet ouvrage remercient le Fonds de recherche de l Universit Laurentienne et le programme de ma trise interdisciplinaire en humanit s de l Universit Laurentienne pour leur appui p cuniaire. Norman Cheadle gratefully acknowledges the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Special thanks are extended to the following individuals: Laurence Steven and Carol Stos of Laurentian University, for their valuable participation in the editorial discussions that gave birth to this project; Jacqueline Larson at Wilfrid Laurier University Press, for her vision and skill at navigating the pitfalls involved in publishing a work of this nature; Rob Kohlmeier and Leslie Macredie for their savoir-faire in book production; copy editors Karen Rolfe and Anne Deraspe; and indexers Cheryl Lemmens and Louise Saint-Andr . Merci aux nombreux savants canadiens et qu b cois qui ont g n reusement accept d valuer de mani re anonyme les textes du pr sent ouvrage. Thanks as well to those readers at Wilfrid Laurier who made helpful comments on the manuscript as a whole. Finally, special thanks to Meredith Eles, whose sharp eye, critical acumen, and unstinting hard work were indispensable to the production of this book.
Permission has been granted by the copyright holders to reproduce excerpts from the following texts:
Neil Besner, translator. Rare and Commonplace Flowers: The Story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares , by Carmen M. Oliveira (Rutgers UP, 2002), by permission of the translator.
Dionne Brand. Poem XXII in Thirsty (M S, 2002), by permission of McClelland Stewart.
George Elliott Clarke. Executions Poems: The Black Acadian Tragedy of George and Rue (Gaspereau, 2001); Qu b cit : A Jazz Fantasia in Three Cantos (Gaspereau, 2003); Whylah Falls (Polestar, 2000), by permission of the author.
Robert Dickson. Or" alit (Prise de parole, 1978); Abris Nocturnes (Prise de parole, 1986); Grand ciel bleu par ici (Prise de parole, 1997); po me " And Even Earlier dans Northern Prospects: An Anthology of Northeastern Ontario Poetry (Your Scrivener Press, 1998); Humains paysages en temps de paix relative (Prise de parole, 2002). Passages reproduits avec la permission des diteurs.
Blanca Espinoza C ceres. Tango (Ed. Cielo Raso, 2001), by permission of the author.
Jorge Etcheverry. T nger (Ed. Cordillera, 1990) and Tangier (Ed. Cordillera, 1997), by permission of the author.
Margarita Feliciano. Oc ano Pac fico/Pacific Ocean (Latin American Literary Review, 1981), by permission of the author.
Nancy Huston. Cantique des plaines (Actes Sud, 1993). Passages reproduits avec la permission de l diteur.
Arturo Kurapel. Prom th e encha n selon Alberto Kurapel/Prometeo encadenado seg n Alberto Kurapel (Humanitas, 1989), by permission of the publisher.
Ann Ireland. Exile (Dundurn, 2002), by permission of the author.
Alfredo Lavergne. La conoc (unpublished poem), by permission of the author.
Arthur Nortje. Poems from Dead Roots (Heinemann, 1973), by permission of the Unisa Library of the University of South Africa.
F.R. Scott. On Saying Good-bye to My Room in Chancellor Day Hall (Oxford UP, 1982), by permission of William Toye for the literary estate of the author.
Carol Shields. Unless (Vintage Canada, 2003), by permission of Random House Canada.
Luis Torres. El exilio y las ruinas (Ril, 2002), by permission of the author.
Julio Torres-Recinos. Una tierra extra a (Split Quotation, 2004), by permission of the author.
M i nombre es Ana y cuando sea grande voy a ser int rprete, announces the Latina-Canadian protagonist in the last sentence of Camila Reimers s 2005 prize-winning short story (Reimers n.p.). Under questioning in English in an Ottawa courtroom, Ana knows that she is being asked her name, but literally cannot say it until the interpreter, her new friend Nawal, intervenes and talks with Ana in Spanish-kindly, somatically even-and thus lays the bridge that enables the little girl to not only cross from one culture to another, but also reinvent who she will be when she grows up: a Canadian and an interpreter. Little Ana, as she makes the difficult transition from her unnamed Spanish-American country of origin to Canada, has learned that translation is a key gateway to citizenship, as Sherry Simon recently remarked in a plenary address. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than in bilingual, multicultural Canada. Furthermore, Ana s story clearly illustrates that translation and transculturation , though analytically distinguishable terms, are nevertheless processes that in practice overlap. Just as the act of translation willy-nilly adds layers of meaning, so does the process of transculturation: A does not merely pass over and disappear into B ; rather, the two interact in complex and unpredictable ways to produce something new, say A1 and C , to cite the variables beautifully conjugated by Alejandro Saravia in a passage from his novel quoted by Jos Antonio Gim nez Mic . * In a word, the peculiarly Canadian inflections of this unpredictable complexity constitute the overarching theme of this volume of essays.
The idea for our book stems from two seminal contributions by Neil Besner and George Elliott Clarke , both of whom had been invited to Laurentian University 1 to address the issue of cultural appropriation, a subject of hot debate in Canada in recent years, especially in relation to Aboriginal issues. 2 Besner chose to speak about the difficulties and joys of translating, from Brazilian Portuguese into Canadian English, Carmen Oliveira s best-selling biography Rare and Commonplace Flowers (1995), a novelized version of the lives of Canadian-born poet Elizabeth Bishop and the avant-garde Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. The story recounts the passionate encounter between those two women; its translation entails a cultural encounter in several dimensions-nationality, gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, as well as langue and its many registers. If Besner frames all this under the geopolitical axis running between north and south, he does so not to reduce the complexity of his account but rather as a point of departure from which to begin to unravel the multiple mediations among those dimensions that complicate any consideration of the ethics of translational appropriation.
George Elliott Clarke spoke about his bold project to reappropriate the poet Arthur Nortje (born in South Africa) for the Afro-Canadian canon. Clarke not only extended the debate into the area of canon formation, but also inverted the negative sign under which the term appropriation has normally been understood. With one bold rhetorical stroke, Clarke thus shows that appropriation is not necessarily a form of theft, but also can be a legitimate gesture of creative empowerment. It also forces us to think again about Northrop Frye s famous question. If Nortje comes home to Canada and Dry Lips Moves to Tokyo, as Beverley Curran aptly titles her article on Tomson Highway s play, then where is here now ?
Besner s paper nudged the discussion about intercultural negotiations toward the sphere of translation, an activity that in Canada takes place daily, at every discursive level, on the two-way street between French and English. But we are not simply a bilingual and bicultural country; we are also engaged in an ongoing experiment in which multiple cultures interact within the formally defined geographical and political space called Canada. Translation must take place not only between English and French, but also between either or both these languages and Spanish, Italian, Greek, Chinese, and a host of others. If multiculturalism is to be anything more than an ideological mask donned by the liberal State to dissimulate its appropriation of the Other into the One, 3 that is, if multiculturalism is to be a truly creative and empowering exchange among cultures, then surely this will have been made possible, in large part, by the activity of translators.
On the other hand, Clarke s gesture convinced us of the need to alter the terms of the inquiry and to allow it to develop within a rhetorically more open-ended framework. This conviction was subsequently strengthened when Ann Ireland submitted The Uninvited Guest (included as an appendix to Cheadle s Canadian Counterpoint ), part of which recounts how she overcame the publishing industry s hypocritical dread of voice appropriation in order to get her novel Exile into print. Rather than focus exclusively on the twin positions of bad conscience and victimhood that tend to fuel post-colonialist discourse on cultural appropriation, we have opted for Fernando Ortiz s notion of transculturation , the turbulent and unpredictable process resulting from the interaction among cultures in contact and which potentiates, in spite of unequal power relations, the emergence of new cultural forms. Transculturation, too, has come to be a contested term (see Cheadle ). It has been denounced in terms similar to those used against official multiculturalism-i.e., as an ideologeme that ultimately serves a hegemonic power. However, the similar term transculturalism has been advocated by Indo-Canadian writer Ven Begamudr (Coleman 36) and is now common currency among scholars in Quebec. 4 As one Canadian Studies scholar has put it, transculturation can still be used as a critical paradigm enabling us to trace the ways that transmission occurs within and between different cultures in order to account for the interplay between sameness and difference (Walter 27). 5 Hence, we propose the notion of a Canadian cultural exchange as a conceptual frame for transitive cultural movement as it takes place in the political entity called Canada.
However, as the concept is deployed in relation to Canada by this volume s contributors (all of them Canadian but one), transculturation, too, inevitably becomes more than a descriptive sociological or ethnographic term, and shades over into an instrument of critical intervention and/or utopian projection. Thus, under the rubric Cultural Appropriation Revisited, Jos Antonio Gim nez Mic makes a strong case for rehabilitating the move of appropriation as reterritorialization, which in turn becomes a vehicle for his case for Latin-Americanizing Canada. Shelley Kulperger reads both negative and productive instances of transcultural exchange in Jane Urquhart s Away (1990) and Eden Robinson s Monkey Beach (2000). Laurence Steven reads Whylah Falls to find an appropriate form of appropriation, a creative forging of identity that results from transcultural exchange between the novel s characters. And George Elliott Clarke -with no apologies, just powerful arguments-performs appropriation on Arthur Nortje, the Black/African, Dutch/Boer, Jewish, British, and landed immigrant/Anglo-Canadian whose [p]oems caught between revelation and revulsion anticipate the work of luminaries such as Caribbean-Canadian Dionne Brand.
This collection s two editors, Norman Cheadle and Lucien Pelletier , have worked both separately and collaboratively. In principle, the articles written in English have fallen under Cheadle s editorial purview, while Pelletier has vetted and edited those written in French. In practice, however, we have consulted one another continually. Generally our views have found common ground, but not always; hence, our decision that this book should be framed twice, once in English (by Cheadle s Introduction) and again in French (by Pelletier s Postface), expressing two editorial overviews that partially overlap but do not entirely coincide. We feel that this double framing is entirely appropriate, given the nature of the Canadian federation with its official bilingual and bicultural composition. This historical structure is not likely to change soon. Indeed, our basic hypothesis is that this non-coincident double framing replicates the structural feature that has made it possible for Canada to become a multicultural society and for that society to continue to evolve transculturally.
The collection s title itself is an instance of non-coincident doubling. The attentive reader will have noted a subtle difference between the English phrase, Canadian Cultural Exchange , and the French changes culturels au Canada . The singular noun exchange in English and the French plural form changes are not necessarily at odds; exchange should be understood in a collective sense as the hypothetical set of many possible instances and modalities of exchange, and the plural changes makes that nuance explicit, in effect explicating the English title. However, the differing syntax of the two titles does index a certain conceptual divergence. In the English title, the qualifier Canadian overdetermines the syntagm cultural exchange ; not so in the French version, in which the plural changes culturels is accompanied by an adverbial phrase. Canadian imposes an abstract, unifying quality upon a substantivized complex process; au Canada is merely circumstantial to the process. This morpho-syntactic variance, slight as may seem, signifies an ineluctable difference in perspective between English- and French-speaking Canada or, perhaps more accurately, between Quebec and the hegemonic Rest-of-Canada, a difference addressed frontally by Pelletier s Postface. Even more disquieting, perhaps, is that the English title, unlike the French changes culturels , carries a perverse echo of stock exchange, implying that Canada may be a site of cultural commodity exchange, where incommensurable cultural values will have been reduced to the colourless exchange value of money. The Anglophone editor consciously assumes this risk: cultural exchange will inevitably be caught up in the bad infinity or negative side of a globalization driven by capital s insatiable tendency to surpass its quantitative limit. Nevertheless, the bad infinite of capital, as Marx following Hegel theorized, is inherently limited; its will to infinite self-expansion stands in dialectical counterpoint to a circular good infinity, in which thought develops freely through the infinite self-mediation of its very categories (Browning 908-9). Replace the term thought (and its categories) by culture (and its forms), and the Hegelian concept of the good infinity can, mutatis mutandis , characterize the utopian horizon of transformative cultural exchange as it takes place within Canada. The globalized market system may feverishly commodify cultural difference, reducing diversity to the abstract sameness of money, but the reduction never reaches completion. Cultural creativity, as Fernando Ortiz observed decades ago in his essay on Cuban cultural history, springs eternal, in spite of successive waves of imperial globalization and the reductive, exploitative economies they have imposed on the Caribbean island.
An updated figuration of the good infinity can perhaps be read in a conceptual metaphor developed by Antonio Ben tez-Rojo, whose interdisciplinary thinking owes a great deal to that of his compatriot Ortiz. For Ben tez-Rojo, the Caribbean is an archipelago: a paradoxical formation, a discontinuous conjunction with neither border nor centre, a strange attractor within a shifting confluence of global currents (2-4). In the Caribbean, beginning in Cuba, the Western powers set up a vast machine for capital accumulation (5). Canada has played a similar role in the development of European capitalism, but with an obvious difference. Little wealth has remained in the Caribbean, whereas Canada s white settler colonies and their middle-class descendants have done very nicely indeed: Canada and Cuba stand at opposite ends of the North-South geo-economic axis. Nevertheless, thanks to the world economic machine s hydraulic pumps, the boundless Caribbean cultural archipelago pours into Canada through many valves. Thus we find the Cuban-Haligonian Pedro in George Elliott Clarke s Whylah Falls (see Steven ); Montreal s Carif te provides the indispensable backdrop to Jos Leandro Urbina s Collect Call (see Cheadle ). Elsewhere, the Trinidad-born Dionne Brand has written of Toronto s impossible citizens, their identity figured in a pocked / whale-boned, autumnal arctic stone of a face and through whom some unproven element works unproven, not unseen (40). Brand s image conflates Inuit kayakers and carvers with Ben tez-Rojo s Caribbean-planetary Peoples of the Sea (16), whose wisdom is proof against the destructiveness of the bad infinite of empire, though its project be called Operation Infinite Justice. Thanks to its porous construction, Canada is more receptive than other, more rigid national identities to the unproven element borne by planetary winds and cultural currents that permit us to glimpse the impossible citizens of our collective becoming.
Across cultures and disciplines
When Fran ois Par wrote his essay on Les litt ratures de l exigu t -those small literatures produced by small, marginal, resistant cultures-he drew upon a Borgesian series of examples: Basque, qu b coise , Inuit, Slovenian, acadienne, franco-ontarienne , French Swiss, Walloon, Galician, Catalonian, Tyrolian, Berber, Barbadian, Mauritian, Seychellian, Navajo, Scots. It is a fractal series, without apparent conceptual design or representativity, whose random variety invokes through synecdoche a universal that, as Par openly acknowledges, exceeds his (or anyone s) comprehension. J aurais voulu que ce livre soit universel, dans un tout autre sens, Par confesses wistfully (7). The utopian universal paradoxically finds its support in the small and the finite, the non-globalized. Nevertheless, three of those on Par s list of literatures/cultures are Francophone Canadian, and a fourth represents the Aboriginal peoples living in the far north of the territory claimed by Canada. Which allows one to say, through the magic of rhetorical and political synecdoche: they are, all four of them, Canadian. Canada: a federation formally presiding over a jumble of cultural identities, an aggregate whose national identity is notional -irremediably virtual, speculative, utopian. Canada: a baroque chunk of the impossible universal. Ac nada - here, nothing -runs the apocryphal joke in Spanish as though in oblique and untimely response to the famous question posed by our Anglo-Canadian Prospero, Northrop Frye. The Canadian here is nowhere and everywhere, an identitary topos that exemplifies L vi-Strauss s succinct definition of identity: une sorte de foyer virtuel auquel il nous est indispensable de nous r f rer pour expliquer un certain nombre de choses, mais sans qu il ait jamais d existence r elle (332).
Like Fran ois Par , we might have wished this book to be universal, somehow representing all the many cultures and their literatures that crisscross Canadian social space. In this regard, Stephen Henighan s essay A Reduced Solitude begins by knowledgeably surveying Canadian minority literatures. But the volume as a whole was never meant to be representative in a descriptive sense; it does not attempt to provide anything like a systematic account of the diverse cultural productions in Canada. Thus we have deliberately eschewed the facile recourse of grouping the articles according to ethnicity or language. More interested in the cultural interactions and transactions among ethnicities, we have instead organized the book according to five thematic concerns that seem to arise from the whole set of our contributing texts. In Part I , the overarching concern may be summed up in the questions: whence the Canadian here ? where have we come from? how has Canada come to be what it is? In Part II , what are the various valences of cultural appropriation in all its propriety and impropriety? In Part III , how is transculturation in Canada lived as embodied experience? In Part IV , what are the cultural consequences of our bilingual/binational constitution as we become multicultural? Finally, in Part V , Part I s concern is swivelled Janus-like: whither the Canadian here ? where are we going? how are we becoming who we will be? The reader will find that many of these concerns overlap in several articles, and so s/he should feel free to rearrange the articles, take eggs from one basket and put them in another.
In a similarly Borgesian spirit, we have gathered an interdisciplinary series of texts written not only by academic critics and theoreticians of literature, theatre, and culture, but also by translators, creative writers, philosophers, and sociologists. A variety of discursive practices-from theoretical inquiry to close reading, from polemic (e.g., Clarke ) to notes from the front (e.g., Ann Ireland or Pelletier s interview-essay on Robert Dickson)-commingle in the volume as a whole and, more often than not, within individual articles. We have preferred not to divide the articles according to their discursive type, but rather to put them into dialogue with one another under the general thematic concerns outlined above.
In sum, this book aims to be not only about cultural exchange, as its title indicates, but also to enact a performative exchange across cultural and discursive boundaries, all under the sign of the foyer vituel named Canada. In one case, translation too is performed: Jos Antonio Gim nez Mic wrote his article in Spanish, but it appears here in Kate Alvo s English translation. If the Anglophone reader is discomfited by certain awkward turns of phrase in this translated text, let her heed Cr ole writer douard Glissant s plea, not just for the right to difference, but for the cultural and linguistic right to opacity. A certain opacity, Glissant argues, is the index of a given singularity s irreducibility to the Transparent, the hegemonic One: Le droit l opacit n tablirait pas l autisme, il fonderait r ellement la Relation, en libert (qtd. in Gim nez Mic 62). The right to opacity may be seen as analogous, in this context, to the right to solitude, a theme to which we shall return presently.
Transitive Canada
Most national identities may be compared to a virtual hearth , a retrospectively imagined historical origin serving as the singular, unitary centre of a given national community. In Canada s case, we should translate L vi-Strauss s foyer by its less homely and more abstract meaning of focus , for two fundamental reasons. First, the Canadian constitution is predicated on not one but two founding nations ; any notion of a unitary Canadian identity must arise from neither one nor the other but out of the differential space mediating between the two. Second, as a result of this forked foundational gesture, Canada must imagine itself prospectively , ceaselessly speculating toward, reformulating, and internally wrangling over its particular universal -i.e., its moment of totalization or universalization which is simultaneously impossible and necessary, as Ernesto Laclau has lucidly argued with respect to identity and hegemony (84). What Laclau theorizes for community in general becomes especially transparent in the case of Canada: its formal foundation on the gap between two nations renders it proof against the ideological gesture of essentialization; hence, our notorious lack of a national epic, as both Clarke and Steven point out. This indeterminacy may have been a source of national-cultural anxiety- Where is here? -but it also makes for a unique collective experiment in which radical freedom must be framed by mutual respect, the former evoking the latter as an appropriate, and necessary, ethical response. Our famously Canadian tendency to be polite to a fault is no mere behavioural quirk; it is a collectively spontaneous response to our constitutionally pluri-cultural makeup.
Canada, at its best, is a unique example of what Julia Kristeva has called the transitional nation- the nation as a series of differences (41; Kristeva s emphasis)-in her utopian re-thinking of what France should offer its citizens: an identifying (therefore reassuring) space, as transitive as it is transitory (42). Transitive is that cultural space constitutionally mediating between the descendants of the two imperial European powers that successively colonized Canada. That transitive space necessitates the act of translation from French to English, et de l anglais vers le fran ais , in a ceaselessly transformative and reciprocal gesture. If Albert Braz , extrapolating from our cultural condition in 1930, protests that translation has never been properly valued in Canada, Judith Woodsworth reads in the novels of Carol Shields and Kate Taylor a new awareness of the importance of translation. If, in the early 20th century, the abyss between the two solitudes permitted anonymous and dishonest English translations of La Bourrasque , Maurice Constantin s historical novel about Louis Riel, then at the turn of the 21st century, as Woodsworth argues, translators have come out of the shadows to take centre stage. 6 From two antagonistic cultural hearths, two alienated centres of gravity, we are shifting to a new virtual identitary locus in the transitive space that mediates between, but does not totally subsume, the traditional French- and English-Canadian foyers . 7
The two-nation foundation, of course, is a figment fashioned by Eurocentrism. Many nations thrived on this continent before the French and then the English arrived to colonize it. Alexandra Kinge and Alan MacDonell reexamine the encounter with the non-European Other in the travel journals of French explorers of the Canadian West. Even as the French seek to appropriate the discourse of the Natives, on whom they depend for the success of their project, the Sauvages in turn manipulate French imperialist ideology by cleverly referring to the English as meschants Fran ois. Already in the 17th century, the indigenous peoples, confronted by the European conqueror, are finding wiggle room in the gap between the two prospective founding nations. Thus by 1971 the Aboriginal peoples, erroneously labelled Indians by colonial discourse, were able to challenge the two-founding-nations thesis by officially declaring themselves the First Nations, overlaying the latecomers duality with an anterior plurality; this rhetorical/political move is doubly powerful in that it weakens the Eurocentric foundational claim both numerically and temporally. The descendents of the French and the English have thus become, in one scholar s words, this country s two fragile minorities (Frideres 58), albeit large ones. Their fragility is not weakness but a relational condition: neither can dominate the totality of social-cultural space, not even within their own reduced ambits. Thus, along with the voices of the First Nations, those of Afro-Canadian culture can begin to make themselves heard, eventually finding powerful literary expression, as witnessed in the anthology Odysseys Home . Officially cast as a subaltern companion in the European colonial enterprise, the African, even in the 17th century, managed to occupy the strategic position of translator among the mercantile invaders of the Canadian East Coast, as Susan Knutson reminds us with the case of Mathieu Da Costa. Knutson goes on to show how George Elliott Clarke s Execution Poems intertextually re-appropriate not only Shakespeare but also his classical and biblical sources, retroactively effecting a teleological realignment that helps articulate the Afro-Canadian identity-another powerful voice in the Canadian foyer .
Ce pays qui n en est pas un
Luce Irigaray argued in Ce sexe qui n en est pas un that woman is not a sex because the notion of woman has been traditionally conceived, in patriarchal culture, as not-man: woman would be man manqu . At the same time, woman is not one sex (as man is), but a being whose sexuality is multiple and uncontainable, rather like Ben tez-Rojo s archipelago. Woman, then, is at once less than one and more than one. Similarly, Canada is not one nation, nor is it one-plus-one nations or deux nations . Perhaps it is, with post-materialist Quebec at its core, informed by a latinit am ricaine du Qu bec [qui] est porteuse de valeurs autour desquelles peut se construire un projet collectif pluraliste et int grateur ( Victor Armony ), the potential model for a non-epic, post-heroic nation: one that exists not under the shadow of a single phallic signifier that violently imposes a homogeneous cultural unity, contained within fiercely defended borders, but rather as an archipelago of pluralities that may also be figured as a transcultural (female) body. Carol Stos theorizes woman s body as a site of transculturation with a close reading of Carmen Rodr guez s short stories, drawing out the Chilean-Canadian writer s use of synecdoche to evince a new transcultural whole, in Canada, from the fragments of the female body that, physically and metaphorically, had been dispersed in the Chilean trauma and diaspora. Rodr guez s strategy, as theorized by Stos, recalls by analogy Clarke s move to gather up, under a new sign, the disjecta membra of Arthur Nortje s corpus scattered by the South African native s convulsive transcontinental career. Both cases imply the act of naming the strange attractor that spins virtual identity out of the boundlessly diverse and complex. Jimmy Thibeault reads the score of the Cantique du corps m tis in the heterodox polyphony of Nancy Huston s Cantique des plaines ; it is the body of Miranda that weaves together the voices of the conqueror, of the colonisateur de bonne volont , and of her Blackfoot grandmother to produce a strange new Albertan beauty.
If woman is not-man, Canada can also be seen as not-USA, both negatively and positively. On the one hand, we seem to be less-than-American, either as Francophone others ( aliens in Americanese) or as the emasculated descendents of British colonials who never realized the self-determining gesture of republican independence (Canada as abortive America, in Arthur Nortje s vitriolic formulation [qtd. in Clarke ]). Following Irigaray s lead, however, we may read the same condition as more-than-American. United States frontier mythology has the monolithic, Anglo-American Daniel Boone. We have the constitutively conflicted and divisive figure of Louis Riel, whose m tissage we must interpret or translate over and over again (see Albert Braz ). Whereas the image of Daniel Boone has degenerated into a flat and silly stereotype, the figure of Riel is a site of perpetual encounter and struggle for hegemony, a locus for the democratic cultural/political exercise of re-thinking and reinventing, through discussion and debate, what Canada means-even as the volatile m nage- -trois of Aboriginal and French and English nations gets further complicated by ever more newcomers.
More solitudes or more social cohesion? Yes, please!
It is significant that Nancy Huston places the narrator of her novel in Montreal, the city of the famous two solitudes; there, in between the two, Miranda s lover s granddaughter finds the narrative space she needs to re-imagine the loving wisdom of Miranda s body. We should bear in mind (as Stephen Henighan reminds us) that Hugh MacLennan took his lapidary title from Rainer Maria Rilke s verses: Love consists in this, / that two solitudes protect, / and touch, and greet each other. Political cartoonists like to portray French and English Canada not as lovers, but as a pair of fractious spouses who squabble, scratch, and bite, though they can t face a divorce. Everyday reality, as it is lived in Montreal, falls somewhere in between the ideal evinced by MacLennan s epigraph and its satirical cartoon version: the solitudes generally recognize and respect one another s cultural space. The important element to be recovered from Rilke is his positive valorization of solitude, the pre-condition of love s gestures and its (pro)creative intercourse across the space that separates individuals, genders, or cultures; douard Glissant (cited above) makes a similar point when he poses the axiom of irreducible singularities as the basis for a true relation. In Montreal, the space between solitudes is everywhere palpable; at every street corner they brush against and often greet one another. Adapting Edward Said (qtd. by Gim nez Mic ), one might say that Montreal is a foreign land to itself; its plurality of vision makes possible originality of vision (my emphasis). Most people are aware of one culture, writes Said; exiles [and Montrealers] are aware of at least two (my emphasis). In Montreal, perhaps more than in any other Canadian city, the condition of cultural otherness is, paradoxically, somehow naturalized, which means that any number of new cultural solitudes can and do find space there, not as barbarians in the polis, but as Montrealers. That is why Canadians should resist the false alternative between recognizing cultural singularities, on one hand, and the desideratum of social cohesion, on the other. One must resist the temptation to deny the kernel of opacity at the heart of cultural solitudes in the name of social cohesion or unity. 8
Montreal may be the Canadian city par excellence, but the quasi-original two solitudes co-exist right across the so-called Bilingual Belt running from Moncton, New Brunswick, to Hearst, Ontario (Joy 5). In Nouvel-Ontario , for example, the poet Robert Dickson has realized his translingual migration culturelle ( Lucien Pelletier ). Grandson of a Spanish-speaking Sephardic Jew who came to Canada from Turkey (where his community had been living since their exile from Spain in 1492), Dickson grew up speaking English deep in Southern Ontario, but came to live in Francophone Sudbury, where he has become a leading spokesperson for Franco-Ontarian culture, as well as a literary translator between French and English in both directions-including Tomson Highway s Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998) as Champion et Ooneemeetoo (2004). In the trajectory from the Sephardic grandfather to Robert s transculturation, one is tempted to discern a kind of historical redemption la Walter Benjamin. In 1492, Spain inaugurated the Western colonization of the Americas with a violent triple gesture-the consolidation of Spanish Catholic political power with the defeat of the Moors in Granada; Crist bal Col n s arrival in America, financed by the reyes cat licos and catastrophic for the continent s indigenous nations; and the expulsion of the Sephardim. It is remarkable that a descendent of the Sephardic diaspora should have reversed the direction of the 1492 exile by migrating to Canada and that then his grandson should have migrated, within Canada, across one cultural divide (from English to French), which in turn enabled him to negotiate another divide by translating an important Native-Canadian text written in English, Ojibwa, and Cree. It is as though Benjamin s weak Messianic force (254; emphasis in original) were at work on a symbolic redemption, inverting the sign of exile and touching a radically re-imagined or translated Zion, 9 a gathering in agape of those who were historically excluded (the Sephardim) and repressed (indigenous North Americans) by Western imperialism. A redemption both transitive and transitory, however, like Carmen Rodr guez s gathering-up of the fragments of the female body, or Clarke s re-membering of Arthur Nortje s disjecta membra .
Dickson and his work provide a fine example of how the two solitudes can be reconfigured, not by melting them down into one national/notional essence or chopping them up into a multicultural salad, but by protecting, touching, and greeting one other. These Rilkean gestures, of course, need not be circumscribed within a circle of two or three. Stephen Henighan finds Eugen Giurgiu s Romanian-Canadian novel to be the work of a reduced solitude ; its precarious, almost structurally impossible existence is nonetheless strengthened by Henighan s thoughtful reading of Ewoclem , anagram of welcome. Hugh Hazelton considers the work of several polylingual writers who write in both Spanish and in Canada s official languages and the implications for their writerly identities. Victor Armony has engaged with Latin Americans who have immigrated to Quebec in his attempt to throw new light on the notion of the Latinos du Nord, as Francophone Quebeckers sometimes call themselves. Norman Cheadle considers the arrival of another solitude by looking at the dialogue between Don Latino and Do a Canadiense, in both her Francophone and Anglophone personae, in his contrapuntal reading of two novels, Collect Call by Chilean-Canadian Jos Leandro Urbina and Exile by Ann Ireland . In an appendix to Cheadle s article, Ireland recounts how she long resisted the colonization of her text by an imaginary Latino poet, but in the end allowed The Uninvited Guest to move in and totally transform her narrative.
The Canadian here is in motion, being both transitive and expansive, but reciprocally so. English-Canadian poetry moves to Brazil and back ( Besner ); Madame Proust moves fictionally to Canada and redefines the place of translation ( Woodsworth ); and Dry Lips moves to Tokyo ( Curran ) so that we may think again about where Kapuskasing may be situated. The Canadian here is an aggregate of particulars tending toward a virtual universal, a figure that potentially may be drawn in countless ways, beginning from any number of points. Robert Dickson, a nouvel-Ontarien install en r gion, dans un ici tr s pr cis, finds that now je suis un citoyen, de mon pays d abord, mais aussi de la plan te. In verse, he has written ici thus:
crique Bissette, rivi re
Pouce Coup , rivi re de la Paix, le grand fleuve
Mackenzie, l oc an du grand Nord. Le monde est vaste
partir de n importe quelle petite place. (qtd. in Pelletier 185; Dickson 48)
Robert Dickson est d c d le 19 mars 2007, quelques semaines avant la parution de cet ouvrage. Les directeurs d dient celui-ci sa m moire.
1 Laurentian s Interdisciplinary MA in the Humanities hosted Besner in November 2002 and Clarke in February 2003.
2 See, for example, Ziff and Rao s excellent volume Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation .
3 Even though one may not agree with his position, Alain Badiou s polemic against the quasi-L vinasian ethics prevailing in post-Cold War Europe should at least serve as a salutary note of caution: les ap tres affich s de l thique et du " droit la difference sont visiblement horrifi s par toute diff rence un peu soutenue . Car pour eux, les coutumes africaines sont barbares, les islamistes affreux, les Chinois totalitaires, et ainsi de suite. En v rit , ce fameux " autre n est pr sentable que s il est un bon autre, c est- -dire quoi, sinon le m me que nous ? [ ] Il se pourrait bien que l id ologie thique ne soit que le dernier mot du civilis conqu rant : " Deviens comme moi, et je respecterai ta diff rence ( L thique 41-42; Badiou s emphasis).
4 See, for example, the Spring 2003 issue of the IJCS, Transculturalisms / Les transferts culturels (Schwartzwald). European scholars of Canadian Studies are also adopting the term; see for example Canada in the Sign of Migration and Transculturalism (Ertler and L schnigg, 2004).
5 The term interculturalism conveys a similar notion: interculturalism recognizes that in a society of mixed ethnicities, cultures act in multiple directions. Host or majority cultures are influenced by immigrant or minority cultures and vice versa inter-culturalism acknowledges and enables cultures to have currency, to be exchanged, to circulate, to be modified and evolve (Powell and Size). All of this is included in the idea of transculturalism, but the prefix trans connotes movement and displacement, a certain dynamic breaking of boundaries that contrasts subtly with contained space implied by inter.
6 Unfortunately, there is recent evidence that Braz may be right after all. In spite of the recent spate of academic interest in translation-such as Katherine Faull s Translation and Culture (2004) or Bermann and Wood s Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation (2005)-there seems to have been a marked decrease in the actual amount of literary translation being published in the Anglophone world, especially in North America, in the last 10 to 15 years; this, according to Stephen Henighan s article The Insularity of English (61). English Canada is not entirely immune to this insular tendency. While in the academy we celebrate Anglophone translators (as in Whitfield), Henighan cites the example of Qu b coise writer Sylvie Desrosiers, whose work has been translated into Spanish, Greek, and Arabic, but not English. Indeed, Wilfrid Laurier University Press was initially hesitant to publish the mixed-language collection that the reader holds in her hands, but then made the enlightened decision to buck this parochial trend in the publishing industry. This disturbing paradox-translation as ideologeme in theoretical and literary discourse being given the lie in socioeconomic practice by a reluctance to translate-might be further fodder for Badiou s scorn for the hypocrisy of hegemonic liberalism.
7 Doris Sommer, in her otherwise delightful book on Bilingual Aesthetics , poorly understands the potential of Canada s bilingual, binational structure: Canada, in my opinion, is not the best model of irritation [a positive term in Sommer s discourse], except maybe for the big cities where multicultural immigration makes trouble [also a positive term] for official bilingualism official bilingualism doesn t require one lingua franca ; instead it frustrates underrepresented (French) speakers [this, in a country where the Bloc Qu b cois leads the official parliamentary opposition!] and bothers the (Anglophone) majority that perceives no need for a second language. Debates get stuck between communitarian authenticity from the minority viewpoint and personal freedom from the majority (96; my emphasis). Sommer reduces the complexity of Canada s language politics to a one-sentence summary of Charles Taylor s work. In fact, probably most Anglophone Canadians do value bilingualism, at least in principle, almost as much as Sommer does. But a more disturbing problem with Sommer s overall argument is her sotte voce insistence on a coordinating lingua franca (xi; my emphasis); I am suggesting that multilingualism demands an agile lingua franca (94-95; my emphasis). But lingua franca, in Sommer s usage, turns out to mean not an informal m lange of commonly understood vernacular languages, but rather the formal language of the state s administrative institutions (96); her example is the role of English in multilingual, (post-)colonial India, though she carefully elides this language s name. Lingua franca, then, no longer means a bastard vernacular as opposed to official Latin, but has drifted over to its semiotic and political opposite: the language of imperial administration. How agile is the singular official language of state? Sommer s adjective is superfluous at best, if not rhetorically dishonest. She goes on to ask: Is the majoritarian language a practical choice for the lingua franca? Then members of the majority should learn at least one more language (95). By eliding the implicit Yes! that answers her rhetorical question about the lingua franca, i.e., the official state language, Sommer effectively elides the contradiction at the heart of her argument. Finally, her prescription that the majority should learn another language is, ironically, the norm in Canada, whose bilingual model she dismisses as inadequate.
8 The subtitle of this section is an homage to a favourite rhetorical ploy of i ek, who has continually played off the Marx Brothers joke- Tea or coffee? Yes, please! -to argue against accepting false alternatives (e.g., his intervention titled Class Struggle or Postmodernism? Yes, please! ). In the present context, I am thinking of Neil Bissoondath s critique of Canadian multiculturalism: [H]ow far do we go as a country in encouraging and promoting cultural difference? Is there a point at which diversity begins to threaten social cohesion? The document [the Act for the Preservation and Enhancement of Multiculturalism in Canada] is striking in its lack of any mention of unity or oneness of vision (43). Rather than pose a continuum between opposing poles of diversity and cohesion, I would argue that recognition of diversity does not somehow weaken harmonious social cohesion; on the contrary, such recognition is the very condition of possibility for the latter.
9 On the notion of translation as touching (as opposed to taking possession ), see Samuel Weber s luminous commentary on Benjamin s abstruse essay on The Task of the Translator. Likewise, touching is one of the Rilkean gestures of love, a traslatio between solitudes.
Works Cited
Badiou, Alain. L thique: Essai sur la conscience du mal . Caen: Nous, 2003.
Ben tez-Rojo, Antonio. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective . Trans. James Meraniss. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992.
Benjamin, Walter. Theses on the Philosophy of History. Illuminations . Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. Nueva York: Schocken, 1969.
Bermann, Sandra and Michael Wood, eds. Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Bissoondath, Neil. Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada . Toronto: Penguin, 1994.
Brand, Dionne. Thirsty . Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2002.
Browning, Gary K. Good and Bad Infinites in Hegel and Marx. Contemporary Political Studies . Conference Proceedings 1996, 907-17. 20 June 2005.
Coleman, Daniel. Writing Dislocation. Transculturalism, Gender, Immigrant Families: A Conversation with Ven Begamudr . Canadian Literature 149 (1996): 36-51.
Dickson, Robert. Abris Nocturnes . Sudbury: Prise de Parole, 1986.
Ertler, Klaus-Dieter and Martin L schnigg, eds. Canada in the Sign of Migration and Trans-Culturalism: From Multi- to Trans-Culturalism / Le Canada sous le signe de la migration et du transculturalisme: Du multiculturalisme au transculturalisme . Frankfurt: Oxford, 2004.
Faull, Katherine M., ed. Translation and Culture . Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2004.
Frideres, J.S. Ethnogensis: Immigrants to Ethnics and the Development of a Rainbow Class Structure. Immigration and the Intersections of Diversity. Spec. issue of Canadian Issues Spring 2005: 58-60.
Henighan, Stephen. The Insularity of English. Geist 61 Summer 2006: 61-62.
Irigaray, Luce. Ce sexe qui n en est pas un. Ce sexe qui n en est pas un . Paris: ditions de minuit, 1977. 23-32.
Joy, Richard J. Languages in Conflict: The Canadian Experience . Toronto: McClel-land and Stewart, 1972.
Kristeva, Julia. Nations Without Nationalisms . Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.
Laclau, Ernesto. Identity and Hegemony: The Role of Universality in the Constitution of Political Logics. Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj i ek. Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left . London: Verso, 2000. 44-89.
L vi-Strauss, Claude. L Identit : S minaire interdisciplinaire . Paris: Grasset, 1977.
Ortiz, Fernanado. Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el az car: Advertencia de sus contrastes agrarios, econ micos, hist ricos y sociales, su etnograf a y su transculturaci n . Madrid: Cuba Espa a, 1999.
Par , Fran ois. Les Litt ratures de l exigu t . Hearst: ditions du Nordir, 1994.
Powell, Diane and Fiona Size. Introduction. Interculturalism: Exploring Critical Issues . Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2004. 5 July 2005.
Reimers, Camila. Ana. Tendiendo Puentes: La Participaci n C vica y Pol tica de los Latinoamericanos en Canad . Lared (Latin American Research, Education and Development). August 2005. 7 June 2006.
Schwartzwald, Robert, ed. Transculturalisms / Les transferts culturels . Spec. issue of International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d tudes canadiennes 27 (Spring 2003).
Simon, Sherry. Translating Across the Multilingual City: Montreal as a City of the Americas. A Plenary Address to the Canadian Association for Translation Studies. Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. York University, Toronto. 28 May 2006.
Sommer, Doris. Bilingual Aesthetics: A New Sentimental Education . Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2004.
Walter, Roland. Between Canada and the Caribbean: Transcultural Contact Zones in the Works of Dionne Brand. In Schwartzwald. 23-41.
Weber, Samuel. A Touch of Translation: On Walter Benjamin s Task of the Translator. In Bermann. 65-78.
Whitfield, Agnes, ed. Writing Between the Lines: Portraits of Canadian Anglophone Translators . Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006.
Ziff, Bruce and Pratima V. Rao, eds. Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation . New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
i ek, Slavoj. Class Struggle or Postmodernism? Yes, please! Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj i ek. Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left . London and New York: Verso, 2000. 90-135.
La voix de l Autre dans certains r cits de voyages de l Ouest canadien au temps de la Nouvelle-France
L a mentalit des explorateurs de l Ouest canadien n est sans doute pas celle des premiers d couvreurs du Canada 1 . Leur perception de l Autre, de l Autochtone, manifeste une certaine familiarit - l Autochtone est pour eux connu - mais en m me temps une reconnaissance du pouvoir de l Autre : il n est ni le " sauvage des J suites convertir, ni le fournisseur de fourrures exploiter, ni m me le guerrier redoutable qui menace la survie de la colonie. Les explorateurs de l Ouest voient l Autochtone selon deux optiques : celle des voyageurs qui ne peuvent se passer des indig nes pour les guider et leur donner les moyens de parvenir destination; et celle des capitalistes qui doivent financer leurs d couvertes et qui, par cons quent, comptent sur l Autochtone pour la traite des fourrures - une traite qui leur sert non pas s enrichir, mais plut t payer les frais de leurs voyages car, ironie capitaliste par excellence, ceux-ci taient rendus plus co teux pr cis ment cause de la n cessit de faire de la traite. Dans ces conditions, les discours des explorateurs rapport s dans des journaux et r cits de voyage doivent tenir compte de la parole de l Autre : pour la traite, pour les conseils de guerre, pour la r colte du riz sauvage, pour la chasse, pour les cartes, si fantaisistes soient-elles, les explorateurs de l Ouest n ont d autre choix que de se fier aux Autochtones et de traiter avec eux d gal gal. Ces explorateurs ont donc une mani re particuli re de rapporter la parole de l Autre : car m me en d formant celle-ci pour essayer de la rendre conforme leur vision du monde et leur d sir de d couverte, ils ne peuvent taire son potentiel de v rit , v rit des Autochtones d une part, et v rit des explorateurs d autre part.
Le r cit de voyage qui parle du Nouveau Monde pr sente, en tant que genre, un int r t tout particulier parce qu il se situe au croisement de diff rents r cits. Souvent, en effet, il est la fois r cit litt raire, anthropologique, conomique et historique. En cela, il est souvent malais de le d finir. Notre analyse ne pr tend d ailleurs pas examiner tous ces types de r cits. Nous examinerons plut t la question de l appr hension d autrui travers la parole qu il prononce. Car si l explorateur t moigne de ce qu il a vu d autrui, il l a aussi entendu. Or, la vue de l Autre constitue la mati re m me des r cits d exploration, tandis que la parole de l Autre est assez rarement entendue et souvent mal comprise. Le d couvreur transcrit m thodiquement ce qu il observe chez ceux qu il rencontre; ce faisant, il va parfois jusqu rapporter leurs mots. L Autre devient ainsi partie int grante du discours de l explorateur, participant de fa on indirecte ou directe au r cit. En donnant la parole aux Autochtones, les explorateurs, marchands ou missionnaires venus en mission dans l Ouest canadien nous offrent un aper u diff rent de l tranger qu ils rencontrent sur leur chemin ou avec lequel ils vivent. Ainsi, leur discours n est plus univoque, car m me s il encadre le discours de l Autre de multiples pr cautions oratoires, politiques et autres, l Europ en inclut ce discours dans le sien propre. Ce discours de l Autre est pr sent sous plusieurs formes dans le r cit : il peut tre repris simplement de fa on indirecte et donc port au compte du narrateur ou bien, et c est l le sujet de notre recherche, il peut tre transcrit de fa on directe. On peut alors s interroger sur la port e d un tel discours. Cette prise de parole est-elle " na vement transcrite par le narrateur, ou est-elle plut t utilis e des fins id ologiques ou politiques? Nous nous proposerons dans cette analyse de montrer comment l auteur du r cit cherche ma triser la parole directe de l Autre pour remplir sa mission imp rialiste qui vise contr ler et assimiler l tranger, et comment cette d marche est souvent trahie par les paroles de l Autre qui ne se laissent pas apprivoiser par le discours europ en et arrivent m me leur tour encadrer celui-ci, subordonnant les vis es europ ennes une intentionnalit autochtone.
Avant de passer des exemples concrets de la parole de l Autre, pr cisons que l int r t de notre discussion est th orique aussi bien que pragmatique. En effet, si nous acceptons dans ses grandes lignes l observation de Todorov sur la parole de l Autre et sur l exp rience de l alt rit , nous croyons possible d y apporter des nuances en vertu des rapports uniques tablis avec les Autochtones par les explorateurs et colonisateurs fran ais dans l Ouest canadien. Todorov conclut la dichotomie fondamentale tablie par l Europ en entre sa propre parole et celle de l Autre :
Colon m conna t la diversit des langues, ce qui ne lui laisse, face une langue trang re, que deux comportements possibles, et compl mentaires : reconna tre que c est une langue mais refuser de croire qu elle est diff rente; ou reconna tre sa diff rence mais refuser d admettre que c est une langue. (43)
Cette observation, g n ralis e peut- tre outrance, conduit distinguer deux composantes essentielles dans le comportement de tout explorateur et colonisateur face l Autre :
Ou bien il pense les Indiens (sans pour autant se servir de ces termes) comme des tres humains part enti re, ayant les m mes droits que lui, mais alors il les voit comme non seulement gaux mais aussi identiques, et ce comportement aboutit l assimilationnisme, la projection de ses propres valeurs sur les autres. Ou bien il part de la diff rence; mais celle-ci est imm diatement traduite en termes de sup riorit et d inf riorit . Ces deux figures l mentaires de l exp rience de l alt rit reposent toutes deux sur l gocentrisme, sur l identification de ses valeurs propres avec les valeurs en g n ral, de son je avec l univers; sur la conviction que le monde est un. (58)
Cette vision dualiste de la perception d autrui convient mieux la colonisation du Mexique par les Conquistadors qu l exploration de l Ouest canadien par les explorateurs fran ais. Un exemple tir des journaux et lettres de La V rendrye montre ce pouvoir du discours de l Autre qui oblige l Europ en se remettre en question. Apr s le massacre de son fils a n , du P re Aulneau et de vingt voyageurs sur une le du lac des Bois, le premier mouvement de La V rendrye est de chercher se venger. Le gouverneur Beauharnois Qu bec et le ministre de la Marine Vaudreuil Versailles s y opposent farouchement : il faut maintenir tout prix la politique fran aise et apporter la paix aux nations autochtones afin de favoriser la traite et l exploration. La V rendrye doit donc " se faire une raison , accepter de refouler le d sir, naturel chez un p re qui a perdu son enfant, de se venger. Mais la situation se corse, car La Colle, grand chef monsoni de l poque, suivant en cela une politique de guerre contre les Sioux vieille d un si cle, veut aider La V rendrye se venger contre les auteurs du massacre. Celui-ci est donc confront un dilemme angoissant : non seulement est-il d chir entre le d sir de vengeance et la n cessit de respecter la politique de Versailles, mais il se voit aussi remis en question en tant qu homme : pourquoi refuse-t-il de suivre le penchant naturel de tout guerrier valeureux? Il faut en effet souligner que, si La V rendrye est respect des Autochtones, c est en grande partie pour son courage dont t moignent les blessures re ues Malplaquet et dont il exhibe les cicatrices aux Autochtones afin de prouver sa bravoure. Cela n emp che pas La Colle, en fin strat ge et grand chef, de s tonner de la conduite paradoxale de La V rendrye dans le but d engager les Fran ais comme alli s contre les Sioux.
Le discours de l Autochtone ne pr sente pas toujours ce genre de drame la fois existentiel et politique. Mais il conteste le discours europ en et va parfois jusqu faire intrusion dans la conscience europ enne. Laisser parler l Autre, c est jusqu un certain point le reconna tre et l accepter. partir du moment o il y a un dialogue, il y a reconnaissance d autrui. En cela, le discours direct des r cits de voyage est une mani re de rendre l Autre sa parole. Mais peut-on avancer pour autant que l on est en pr sence d un v ritable change? Dans le discours direct, transcrit avec l usage de guillemets et sans commentaires, un dialogue se forme entre les Autochtones et le narrateur. L Autre se fait alors interlocuteur direct du narrateur et, par l interm diaire de ce dernier, du lecteur. La transcription directe donne la parole un peuple chez qui la tradition discursive est orale, et marque alors la reconnaissance d une langue (parfois parl e par le narrateur ou comprise par le truchement d interpr tes), mais aussi d un mode de pens e qui diff rent de ceux des Europ ens. La parole d note une fa on particuli re d appr hender l alt rit . Par la parole, l Autochtone prend visage humain; travers ses mots, le lecteur est m me de reconna tre un esprit, une fa on de penser et de raisonner diff -rents. Ce statut privil gi accord la parole autochtone est particuli rement frappant chez l explorateur La V rendrye. D un point de vue historique, cette nouvelle perspective dans le r cit est le r sultat de l volution des rapports avec les Autochtones. Dans le cas de La V rendrye, il devient vital de s entendre et de chercher se comprendre pour pouvoir rester dans la r gion, y continuer la traite et surtout progresser dans la d couverte de la mer de l Ouest, passage mythique qui donnerait acc s au Pacifique.
Car si la connaissance passe par le langage, il en va de m me pour la conscience de l Autre. Dans les r cits de La V rendrye, l Autre parle et prend un nouveau visage. On d couvre un tre qui n est pas simple pr sence physique, mais est capable de paroles et de pens es. Si l explorateur a choisi de transcrire de fa on directe le discours des Autochtones, c est sans doute par souci de faire comprendre leur volont , dans le but d am liorer les relations avec eux et de renforcer les alliances. En effet, dans ces r cits, le " Sauvage parle et donne son avis. Sa parole est rapport e souvent sous la forme d une harangue tenue par les Autochtones. La V rendrye ponctue son r cit de dialogues qu il a eus avec des chefs de nations : la harangue se pr sente comme un c r monial tr s tudi et ritualis dans lequel l explorateur ou un chef prend la parole pour exposer ses dol ances. En voici un exemple :
J adressai ensuite la parole au chef cri qui m avait accompagn , et lui dis de parler au nom de sa nation et de faire conna tre ses sentiments toute l assembl e. Il se leva, pr senta une brasse de tabac et adressant la parole tous, il dit : " Mes fr res, pensez-vous ce que vous allez faire? Les Sauteux et Sioux sont nos alli s, et enfants du m me P re. Pourquoi un tel, en parlant au chef de guerre, as-tu le coeur si mauvais, que de vouloir tuer tes parents? Songe aux paroles que nous avons envoy es notre P re et ne nous fais pas mentir Je te dis au nom de notre nation que tu aies couter la parole de notre P re qui nous donne de l esprit ( La Mer de l Ouest 54, 56)
Comme le montre toutefois ce passage, la parole directe s ins re dans le r cit de l explorateur et permet l Autre de prendre la parole, mais cette parole n est pas toujours transcrite innocemment.
Elle est en effet utilis e des fins id ologiques pr cises; dans cet exemple, on y recourt dans le but de renforcer les paroles du gouverneur de la Nouvelle-France, sans doute transmises par La V rendrye aux Autochtones. Elle sert en l occurrence les int r ts id ologiques de l exploration. Ce discours est efficace dans la mesure o il ne fait que valoriser et renforcer les id es de l Europ en. Ainsi, le dialogue est manipul par le narrateur, alors m me qu il se pr sente comme direct. Le discours de l Autre peut donc tre utilis pour satisfaire les attentes du lecteur officiel, ministre de France ou gouverneur de la Nouvelle-France. Il est d ailleurs assez difficile de faire la part de ce qui est l expression du point de vue des Autochtones et de ce qui est dit pour plaire, ou parfois pour d plaire. Comme l affirme Todorov, " le destinataire est aussi responsable du contenu que son auteur (232). Ainsi, les paroles des Autochtones sont le plus souvent utilis es propos , dans la mesure o elles servent les int r ts de l exploration et de la colonisation. M me si le discours de l Autre lui conf re un r le dynamique en tant que personnage, comme l explique Gilles Th rien (355), dans ce dialogue, le discours est finalement toujours entre les mains du Blanc. Le narrateur cherche toujours ma triser le discours, tout comme il cherche ma triser la situation d crite. En comprenant la langue et en la traduisant pour la transcrire, l explorateur cherche aussi assimiler autrui et convaincre du bien-fond de ses propres entreprises. Le discours de l Autre rend plus cr dible le r cit, mais il est utilis des fins rh toriques pour convaincre, pour confirmer la r ussite des explorations, de la traite et de la colonisation fran aises, sans doute pour masquer tant bien que mal une r alit politique vidente : l chec des ententes et alliances avec les Autochtones. Mais l id ologisation du discours de l Autre est souvent trahie par l intrusion de ce discours dans celui de l explorateur.
Id ologisation du discours de l Autre
Le " je du discours de l explorateur l emporte souvent sur le " ils des Autochtones, non seulement dans le discours direct, mais aussi dans la reprise du discours de l Autre ou dans l insertion de commentaires et de pr cisions. Au-del du discours propre, l agencement des mots ou des id es effectue une v ritable mainmise id ologique sur le discours d autrui. La rh torique est soigneusement utilis e au profit de l emprise id ologique de l Ancien Monde. tel point que ce discours proclame un pr jug fondamental propre la colonisation en g n ral, et bien exprim par Albert Memmi : " Les Europ ens ont conquis le monde parce que leur nature les y pr disposait, les non-Europ ens furent colonis s parce que leur nature les y condamnait (132). C est la sup riorit de l Europe qui est exprim e dans le discours direct des Autochtones. La rencontre entre deux cultures diff rentes, l une ne pouvant s emp cher d exprimer son emprise sur l autre, se trouve parfaitement illustr e dans ce discours. Si bien qu travers les paroles des Autochtones, ce que les Fran ais expriment est ce qui est bon pour eux-m mes. Edward Sa d explique cela propos de la domination anglaise en gypte. Se mettant dans la position du dominateur anglais, il crit :
he does speak for them in the sense that what they might have to say, were they to be asked and might they be able to answer, would somewhat uselessly confirm what is already evident : that they are a subject race, dominated by a race that knows them and what is good for them better than they could possibly know themselves. (35)
Il s agit en fait de convertir l id ologie et aux int r ts de la France par le discours, m me si ce discours est celui qu on tient soi-m me. On fait donc dire aux Autochtones qu ils ont besoin que les Fran ais prennent soin d eux. Il n est pas rare, dans les harangues transcrites par La V rendrye, qu un chef indien commence par remercier La V rendrye de leur apporter ce dont les Autochtones ont besoin : " Mon P re, nous te remercions de ce que tu as bien parl l -bas notre P re pour nous. Nous connaissons aujourd hui qu il a piti de nous en nous envoyant des Fran ais sur nos terres pour nous apporter nos besoins ( Mer de l Ouest 96) lui dit un chef monsoni. Que ces paroles aient t v ritablement prononc es ou non importe peu. Il s agit de voir qu elles sont utilis es dans un but pr cis et qu elles v hiculent un message qui pose l Europ en comme le bienfaiteur des Autochtones. Dans L Empire des signes , Roland Barthes recourt une analogie on ne peut plus pertinente pour notre propos entre l id ologisation du langage et le bapt me forc des populations autochtones : " L Occident humecte toute chose de sens, la mani re d une religion autoritaire qui impose le bapt me par populations; les objets de langage (faits avec la parole) sont videmment des convertis de droit (92-93).
La parole attribu e aux Autochtones est modifi e pour servir les int r ts id ologiques et culturels des Fran ais. Ainsi, les Anglais, ennemis des Fran ais pour la traite des fourrures dans la r gion, deviennent galement ennemis dans le discours de l Autre. La parole des Autochtones exprime une opinion qui est surtout celle des Fran ais. Lorsque le P re Silvy, alors en mission avec d Iberville dans la baie d Hudson, relate dans son Journal du P re Silvy Depuis Bell Isle jusqu PortNelson qu il a t inform par les Autochtones d une pr sence anglaise dans la r gion, les mots des " Sauvages qu il rapporte pour parler des Anglais sont loin d tre innocents. Dans les deux occurrences suivantes, les Anglais sont des " meschants Fran ois : " on revint avec deux canots de sauvages qui avoient traitt avec nos Fran ois, et qui n alloient point aux Anglois qu ils appellent avec raison meschants Fran ois (xlvi).
Il rench rit plus loin dans son r cit, cette fois en transcrivant directement des paroles d Autochtones : " Quelques sauvages qui ne faisoient que d en venir, vinrent me dire tout em s. Viens voir, viens voir les meschants Fran ois qui traversent et qui vont piller les Fran ois (lv).
De m me, dans Relation du d troit et de la baie d Hudson de Monsieur J r mie, lorsqu il s agit de d crire le pillage d un fort par des Autochtones affam s, ceux-ci deviennent naturellement des cannibales, mais comble d ironie, m me dans la description de leur cannibalisme le narrateur trouve le moyen de promouvoir une certaine forme de morale chr tienne par laquelle le Sauvage cannibale reconna t sa propre culpabilit . Or, Monsieur J r mie pr sente ce passage comme la simple transcription de ce que lui aurait expliqu un p re de famille pr sent comme un cannibale; il se dissocie de l explication de ce dernier par l introduction d italiques :
J en ai v un qui, apr s avoir d vor sa femme six enfans qu ils avoient, disoit n avoir t attendri qu au dernier qu il avoit mang parce qu il l aimoit plus que les autres, qu en ouvrant la t te pour en manger la cervelle, il s toit senti touch du naturel qu un p re doit avoir pour ses enfants, qu il n avoit pas la force de lui casser les os pour en sucer la mo lle. (36)
Dans la recherche de la ma trise du terrain, on peut noter cette m me volont de toujours ma triser le discours de l Autre. On conna t l importance du r le des Autochtones dans l orientation topographique des explorateurs. Bien videmment, lorsqu il est n cessaire de reconna tre le terrain, les Autochtones ont leur mot dire, mais le narrateur ne peut pas leur donner la parole sans prendre part lui aussi au r cit en pr cisant les informations re ues, comme le montre cet extrait du journal de Monsieur J r mie :
Les Sauvages disent, qu apr s avoir march plusieurs mois l O est-Sudo est, ils ont trouv la Mer sur laquelle ils ont vu de grands Canots (ce sont des Navires) avec des hommes qui ont de la barbe et des bonnets, qui ramassent de l Or sur le bord de la Mer (c est- -dire, l embouchure des Rivi res). (12)
Le narrateur inclut ses commentaires sous la forme de parenth ses qui ren-ferment l information r elle, par comparaison avec celle nonc e par les Autochtones. L encore, ce discours t moigne du conflit de deux cultures aux r f rents distincts. Les parenth ses viennent rappeler qu il y a un seul discours compr hensible et accessible, le discours dominateur des Fran ais. La reprise du discours de l Autre semble dans ce cas ne pas pouvoir se passer d un commentaire de l auteur qui viendrait corriger les informations pour certifier leur authenticit et en reprendre son compte les paroles. Car il s agit bel et bien de ma triser la parole de l Autre, au m me titre que les explorateurs tentent de ma triser le pays et ses habitants. Comme l explique Todorov propos des textes qui expriment le point de vue des Autochtones, il ne faut pas les lire " comme des nonc s transparents, mais [il s agit] d essayer en m me temps de tenir compte de l acte et des circonstances de leur nonciation (59). L explorateur, par exemple, exprime sa sup riorit en faisant siennes les d couvertes faites par les Autochtones. Il faut convaincre de l int r t des explorations, de l installation de postes de traite, mais aussi de la ma trise du pays par ceux qui s y sont nouvellement install s. Pour faire plus vraisemblable, on se sert donc des paroles des Autochtones que l on transcrit, mais toujours dans le sens de l exploration, de la traite ou de l vang lisation. Cette parole sert assimiler en faisant prof rer aux Autochtones des paroles qui pourraient tre celles d un explorateur ou d un missionnaire.
La parole est un outil id ologique qui concerne ce qui ne peut tre dit et pourtant transpara t dans le r cit : l chec croissant des missions, du main-tien du commerce, des alliances, et les rapports avec les Anglais et les Autoch-tones. On fait dire ce qu on veut aux Autochtones pour se dispenser d avouer l chec. Le discours de l Autre est codifi et utilis pour justifier et l gitimer. Les Anglais sont m chants, les Autochtones qui ne prennent pas part la traite des fourrures sont des cannibales, ceux qui au contraire y participent ont " de l esprit et deviennent les "enfants de la France; les Autochtones non convertis sont de mauvais chr tiens et des barbares; l inverse, ceux qui acceptent les lois morales sont de bonnes mes. Au sein m me du discours de l Autre, on retrouve un dualisme dans l image des Autochtones qui alimente le r cit de voyage. Le " Sauvage est bon ou mauvais, mais il n est jamais tout fait ce que l explorateur voudrait qu il soit.
Retour de l Autre
Impossible donc de limiter notre analyse du discours de l Autre une simple consid ration de l emprise id ologique de l explorateur europ en. Les textes d explorateurs montrent aussi que la parole ne peut pas tre syst matiquement contr l e par le narrateur. Parfois, en transcrivant le discours des Autochtones, l explorateur laisse percevoir sa perte de contr le du discours de l Autre et, par extension, de l Autre lui-m me. Ainsi, l Autre peut prendre la parole au sens litt ral du terme, plut t que de se la faire donner par le narrateur. En effet, le discours, m me s il reste entre les mains du narrateur, peut parfois lui chapper. On peut trouver un exemple frappant de cela dans un journal de La V rendrye dat de 1734. Alors que la situation des alliances se d grade entre les Fran ais et certaines nations autochtones, un chef monsoni vient rencontrer La V rendrye pour exprimer son opinion sur la guerre :
" Mon P re, nous sommes venus te trouver, esp rant que tu auras piti de nous, puisque nous ob issons ta parole. Nous voil rendus chez toi, sur qui frapperons-nous? Et avant ma r ponse il continua : " Si tu veux je dirai la pens e de nos guerriers, je suis chef, il est vrai, mais je ne suis pas toujours ma tre de leur volont . Si tu veux nous accorder ton fils pour venir avec nous, nous irons droit o tu nous as dit d aller, mais si tu nous refuses, je ne saurais r pondre du coup qui va se faire. Je ne doute pas que tu ne saches la pens e de nos parents les Cris, mais je ne te cache pas, mon P re, qu il y a plusieurs chefs parmi nous qui ont le coeur mal fait contre le Sioux et le Sauteux Pense ce que tu as faire. ( Mer de l Ouest 56)
Alors que le discours commence par la reconnaissance du rapport de soumission qui existe entre l explorateur et les Monsonis, comme l expriment les mots " puisque nous ob issons ta parole , la suite du discours montre l absence de pouvoir du chef et, par extension, de l explorateur. Le discours transcrit montre que le narrateur n arrive pas prendre la parole lors du discours du chef monsoni. La V rendrye crit, d ailleurs : " Et avant ma r ponse il continua . Dans cet exemple, c est le chef qui prend le dessus dans le discours et il le termine m me par un imp ratif : " Pense ce que tu as faire , qui peut tre compris comme un ultimatum. Pourquoi l explorateur a-t-il choisi de transcrire un discours qui exprime une menace du chef monsoni, introduite par des " si contre le pouvoir fran ais? Pourquoi l explorateur a-t-il tenu garder ce discours dans sa narration dans laquelle il n exprime en rien son point de vue sur le probl me soulev par le chef monsoni et o il ne cherche pas prendre le dessus sur le discours de l Autre? Est-ce pour montrer la mauvaise volont des Autochtones et leur soif de guerre? Ce genre de prise de parole manifeste la complexit des alliances qui r glaient les rapports intertribaux, de m me que les rapports entre Fran ais et Autochtones. On pourrait alors avancer que l explorateur cherche rejeter la faute sur les Autochtones pour les checs qui s annoncent; il s agirait de montrer que les guerres prennent des proportions incontr lables certes, mais que la responsabilit en revient aux Autochtones.
D un point de vue historique, cette perte de contr le met tr s bien en relief la perte de pouvoir des explorateurs fran ais sur les Autochtones et l chec des ententes et de la pr sence fran aise dans la r gion. Le discours utilis dans une optique id ologique de d monstration de sup riorit ne semble pas pouvoir masquer ce qui ne peut se dire, mais qui transpara t clairement travers l utilisation du discours de l Autre : l emprise que ce discours exerce sur le discours europ en. En reconnaissant la pertinence des opinions des Autochtones, qui peuvent parfois aller l encontre de celles de l explorateur et, plus grande chelle, de celles du gouvernement de la Nouvelle-France, un dialogue certain est cr dans lequel les deux parties ont leur mot dire. En cela, les textes de La V rendrye sont remarquables puisqu ils montrent toutes les complexit s de l appr hension d autrui et de son acceptation. La conqu te mat rielle n explique qu moiti l exp rience de l explorateur, car la face cach e des transformations qu il impose aux nations et aux territoires conquis, c est le contact opini tre des Autochtones. La meilleure illustration de cela est sans doute la suite et fin de cette requ te faite La V rendrye par le chef cri. L explorateur nous dit :
J tais agit , il faut l avouer, de diff rentes pens es qui me tourmentaient cruellement, mais je faisais le brave et ne m en vantais pas. D un c t , comment mettre mon fils a n entre les mains des barbares que je ne connais pas et dont peine sais-je le nom, pour aller en guerre contre d autres barbares dont je ne connais ni le nom ni les forces. Qui sait si mon fils en reviendra, et s il ne tombera pas entre les mains des Maskoutins Pouanes ou Pouannes , ennemis jur s des Cris et Monsonis qui me le demandent? D un autre c t , si je leur refuse, je crains avec fondement qu ils n attribuent mon refus la peur, qu ils ne prennent les Fran ais pour des l ches, et qu ils ne secouent le joug fran ais ( Mer de l Ouest 58)
Les cons quences de la d cision de La V rendrye de permettre son fils de partir en guerre avec les Cris se font sentir long terme. Par la suite, en 1736, des guerriers sioux, voquant parmi d autres griefs la pr sence du fils de La V rendrye dans un parti de guerre qui les avait attaqu s, massacrent ce fils, le P re Aulneaux et des voyageurs sur le lac des Bois. Pendant toute l ann e 1737, La V rendrye, suivant en cela la politique de Versailles et de Qu bec, essaie de calmer le d sir de vengeance de ses alli s cris et assiniboines. On peut donc dire que cette perte humaine repr sente aussi une remise en question pour plusieurs ann es de la mission de d couverte de La V rendrye.
Mais l analyse de la parole de l Autochtone ne devrait pas s arr ter ces cons quences humaines et politiques. N oublions pas que l aventure de la d couverte chez La V rendrye commence par la parole de l Autochtone, telle qu interpr t e par l explorateur et le P re Gonnor, et que cette entreprise a donc des origines ambigu s. En effet, La V rendrye est simple traiteur sur le lac Nipigon quand lui et le P re Gonnor font la rencontre de Pako, un Autochtone qui leur parle d un grand fleuve qui va droit vers le couchant et qui d bouche sur une mer ayant un flux et reflux et dont l eau n est pas bonne boire :
Ce n est pas qu il n y ait toujours se d fier des Sauvages qui, tant fort oisifs et ne sachant quoi passer le temps, l emploient assez souvent inventer des fausset s qu ils racontent ensuite comme les plus grandes v rit s avec la derni re effronterie. On les coute et on ne leur dit jamais non, parce qu on serait m pris si on le faisait et on passerait pour n avoir point d esprit, mais on ne les croit pas pour cela. On a raison en bien des rencontres, mais aussi quelquefois on a tort, parce que les Sauvages, m me les plus grands menteurs, disent vrai quelquefois. Or, il semble que ce soit ici une de ces occasions o on ne puisse les soup onner de tromper sans se faire soup onner soi-m me d incr dulit excessive et d aveuglement outr . ( Mer de l Ouest 34)
Aux origines de la d couverte de l Ouest se trouve donc un quiproquo fond sur la d pendance envers la parole de l Autre, sur une tendance irr sistible l interpr ter selon les n cessit s de l exploration (dans ce cas, le besoin imp rieux de voir dans le lac Winnipeg la mer de l Ouest) et les vingt ann es de travail et de sacrifices qui ont men , malgr tout, la d couverte de l Ouest canadien.
L tude du discours de l Autre r v le donc des changements subis par l explorateur son insu. Il semble que La V rendrye, qui d pend de la traite et donc des Autochtones pour mener bien ses explorations, n ait d autre choix que de dialoguer avec eux pour assurer la poursuite de la d couverte de la mer de l Ouest. la lecture de r cits d explorateurs, on est sensible d abord la tentative de masquer la d couverte de l alt rit par le discours dominateur du colonisateur. Pourtant, comme nous avons tent de le montrer, le dialogue avec l Autre peut tre pr sent, et la situation de domination par le discours europ en peut m me s inverser. L exp rience de l alt rit se r v le par le langage, car, lorsqu il prend la parole, l Autre est reconnu par l effet que cela produit sur l Europ en. Il ne s agit plus alors pour le narrateur de relater uniquement ce qui lui convient, mais aussi ce qui lui d pla t ou ce qui le compromet dans ses certitudes. Les textes de La V rendrye en particulier nous pr sentent cette remise en question de l id ologie dominatrice de la colonisation, ne serait-ce que par ces failles du discours o perce le discours de l Autre.
1 Olive Dickason ( The Myth of the Savage ) soul ve le probl me de la v racit des premiers rapports du discours autochtone. Elle cite entre autres l exemple du cosmographe Thevet : " Thevet s version of his first visit to New France was a compound of fact and fancy : On my first voyage, returning from the southern lands, we had difficulty meeting barbarians. A kinglet in animal skins, accompanied by several persons, thinking that we were worried and that we feared them, spoke to us in a friendly manner in his language Come, come my brothers and friends. Come and drink of what we have. We swear to you by the heavens, by the earth, by the moon and by the stars, that you will suffer no more harm than we ourselves. Seeing the goodwill and the affection of this old man, we stayed with him the whole day, and the next took the route of the Gulf of Canada. On the other hand one could also wonder if this was Donnacona s version of his first encounter with Cartier. Thevet met Donnacona in France; it could well be that the cosmographer could not tell the chief s own story as his own (176-77).
la recherche de la mer de l Ouest/In Search of the Western Sea , dir. Denis Combet, Winnipeg, ditions du bl /Great Plains Publications, 2001.
Barthes, Roland. L Empire des signes , Gen ve, Albert Skira diteur, 1970.
Dickason, Olive P. The Myth of the Savage , Edmonton, University of Alberta Press, 1997.
Memmi, Albert. Portrait du colonis , Paris, Gallimard, 1957.
Monsieur J r mie. " Relation du d troit et de la baie d Hudson Monsieur ** , dans Recueil d arrests et autres pi ces pour l tablissement de la Compagnie d Occident , Amsterdam, 1720.
P re Silvy. " Journal du P re Silvy depuis Bell Isle jusqu Port Nelson, 1685 . Documents Relating to the Early History of Hudson Bay , d. par J.B. Tyrell, Toronto, Champlain History Publication XVIII , 1930.
Sa d, Edward. Orientalism , New York, Vintage Books, 1979.
Th rien, Gilles. " L Indien du discours , dans Figures de l Indien , dir. par Gilles Th rien, Montr al, Universit du Qu bec Montr al, 1988.
Todorov, Tzvetan. La Conqu te de l Am rique : la question de l autre , Paris, Seuil, 1982.
The Creative Translator: Textual Additions and Deletions in A Martyr s Folly
[I]t is impossible to do a good translation unless there is creative intervention by the translator. (Iren Kiss)
O ne of the most common refrains in the discourse on translation is the lament about the invisibility of the individual who makes the enterprise possible, the translator. Newspaper critics are particularly notorious for reviewing translations as if they were source texts. However, critics are often abetted in their practice by publishers, who deliberately camouflage the fact a given work appears in a language other than the one in which it was first written. The English version of Anne H bert s celebrated 1970 novel Kamouraska is a case in point, as only the most recent edition (2000) openly acknowledges that there is a linguistic mediator between H bert s words and the reader. 1 Although far more rare, the reverse has also been known to occur. Because of national chauvinism, the local celebrity of the translator, or perhaps in an attempt to avoid paying royalties, texts sometimes bear only the translator s name. An example of this phenomenon is the first New Canadian Library edition of Canadians of Old , whose cover presents Charles G.D. Roberts as the work s author, not the translator of Philippe Aubert de Gasp s Les anciens Canadiens , as the title page indicates (Aubert de Gasp n.p.). Since its translator s name does not appear anywhere in the text, A Martyr s Folly would seem to fall into the first tradition, that of deliberately effacing the translator. Yet, despite his or her ostensible absence, the anonymous scribe transforms the work in fundamental ways. A Martyr s Folly is the Canadian translation of Maurice Constantin-Weyer s La bourrasque , a 1925 French historical novel very loosely modelled on Louis Riel. It was published in Toronto in 1930, the same year that another edition appeared in New York bearing the title The Half-breed. The two works are remarkably similar, conveying the impression that they are (largely) the labour of the same individual. The notable exceptions are scenes involving Riel s still controversial trial, where the U.S. version tends to be faithful to the French original but the Canadian one does not. As well, the Canadian text deletes two sections of Constantin-Weyer s novel on the politics of the trial and replaces them with two new ones. Indeed, as I will contend in my essay, so creative a translation is A Martyr s Folly that, at times, it becomes completely distinct from its putative source.
La bourrasque remains a polemical text, one that elicits rather conflicting assessments. Some critics consider it a mediocre work and, except as archival material, deservedly forgotten today (Knutson 257). Others, in contrast, claim the novel is full of insights and the only reason there have been such cris de protestation against it in Canada is that elle choque le bon go t (Motut 136). The same divided response has greeted the work s Canadian English translation. Around the time of its publication, A Martyr s Folly was given a generally positive reception. For example, an anonymous critic for The Canadian Historical Review praises it for containing an excellent picture of the M tis and of the wilds of the Canadian north west (Anonymous 227). In his introduction to the novel, Pelham Edgar is even more complimentary, describing it as an admirable study of honest and ignorant ineffectiveness at grips with a somewhat blundering efficiency (vi). 2 But the situation has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Constantin-Weyer s sardonic treatment of Riel and his people has become especially problematic, since it se situe aux antipodes de l image que veut projeter la nation m tisse (Saint-Pierre 11). In fact, so widely condemned is the novel that the city of Winnipeg banned it from its public libraries in the 1970s and the author s own daughter refuses to allow its republication (Fr mont 58-59; Saint-Pierre 12).
Whatever its literary merits or failings, though, A Martyr s Folly does exemplify some of the most critical problems in the contemporary theory of translation, notably those reflecting the anxiety about the status of the translator. For theorists like Alexis Nouss and Lawrence Venuti, the factor most responsible for the current marginality of translation is its offense against the prevailing concept of authorship, in which a translation is seen as derivative, an imitation of another text (Venuti 31). Nouss finds the poststructuralist concept of the death of the author liberating precisely because it authorizes the birth of the translator, who becomes equal to the author. In his words, [t]he disappearance of the authorial burden, the move from work ( l oeuvre ) to text ( texte ) both gives the translator the freedom of creativity and legitimizes his/her status, as no longer secondary but on par with that of the author (1352). However, in terms of both translation and transculturation, there seems to be a major contradiction in the argument that the translator is really an author. If one accepts that a text can become part of world literature only when it enters a culture other than the one that produced it, then, unless it is written in an imperial language, it must be translated (Damrosch 4-6). In order for this linguistic metamorphosis to be possible, of course, the text must exist prior to the act of translation. Similarly, transculturation can occur only if different cultures come into contact with each other and undergo some disadjustment and readjustment in the process (Ortiz 98). That is, for linguistic as well as cultural reasons, there appear to be concrete limits to the freedom of the translator. As Frank Scott asserts in his famous dialogue with H bert, the translator is given an external criterion of the appropriateness of his writing, in the poem to be translated. He writes, as it were, to order, yet must create while obeying the order (H bert and Scott 56). Therefore, if the translator becomes creative to the point of ignoring the original work, no cultural exchange-that is, no translation-can take place. Or, to phrase it differently, on a profound level, translation precludes authorship. This is likely what leads Isaac D Israeli to maintain that a translator must only copy, not compose. Whenever he trespasses on his limits, he ceases to be a Translator , and becomes an Author (228). But such intrusion into authorship is what happens frequently in A Martyr s Folly , which stops being the translation of a text from another linguistic and cultural tradition and becomes a new, domestic creation.
As mentioned above, A Martyr s Folly is the Canadian translation of La bourrasque , by Maurice Constantin-Weyer (1881-1964). Since the author has fallen out of fashion these days, it may be useful to provide a brief introduction to him before proceeding to analyze the translation. Constantin-Weyer 3 was a Frenchman who farmed in southern Manitoba for about ten years in the early part of the 20th century. Following the outbreak of the First World War, he returned to France, where he was later joined by his children but not by their M tis mother, whom he allegedly abandoned (Fr mont 32). Constantin-Weyer is now best known for his Canadian writings, which are credited with having introduced the Canadian West into French literature. Known collectively as l Epop e canadienne, his fifteen historical and adventure novels were instrumental in helping to transform the European image of Canada from a country of snow and ice into that of an exotic and beautiful land (Knutson 260). They were also extremely well received in France, one being awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1928, and led to his being known as the French Jack London (Motut 98-100). Still, even though Constantin-Weyer is considered a great champion of Canada, driven by a desire to expose France to what he called a v ritable pays d Epop e (quoted in Motut 92), he was given a rather different treatment in his adoptive land. This is particularly true of La bourrasque , a novel that many M tis and French-speaking Canadians have deemed irreverent to the point of being racist.
The main explanation usually offered for the M tis and French-Canadian antagonism toward La bourrasque is the author s cavalier attitude toward la v rit historique (Motut 106), a charge that is difficult to dispute. Constantin-Weyer s casualness about history is particularly conspicuous in his decision to portray Riel as a lover. The M tis leader is often seen as the Prophet of the New World and a founding father of Manitoba, but not exactly its Golden Boy, a Prairie Don Juan. As several scholars have remarked, when it comes to women, not even his enemies could make out a case against him (Howard 147; Motut 123). Yet for Constantin-Weyer, Riel is first and foremost a frontier bon-vivant, a good old boy more interested in romantic conquests than in the welfare of his people. While the Riel of La bourrasque has sexual liaisons with a large segment of Red River s female populace, his great love is a certain (and fictitious) Mrs. Hamarstyne. 4 The mixed-race wife of a prominent white merchant, Mrs. Hamarstyne is a pious Presbyterian who considers her dalliance with an ungodly Catholic une grande honte that is bound to bring about her eternal damnation ( Bourrasque 71). But so intense is their sexual relationship that the two lovers are willing to risk anything over it, including her marriage and the M tis cause ( Bourrasque 183).
There are other reasons, though, why Constantin-Weyer s novel has so deeply offended some people in Canada. In addition to presenting Riel as an inveterate womanizer controlled by his libido, the novelist depicts his protagonist as being threatened not only by English Canadians but also by Catholic priests and French Canadians. According to Constantin-Weyer, most M tis are descended from Aboriginal mothers and French, not French-Canadian, fathers. As he describes the genesis of Riel s people, with his typical nonchalance, it is not clear if the French monopoly that controlled the fur trade in Canada in the early part of the eighteenth century vendit ses employ s la Compagnie anglaise, ou si elle les oublia, en s en allant. In any case, those abandonn s married Aboriginal women and from those unions emerged the M tis, who furent p tris des d fauts des deux races, mais ils joignirent souvent la fougue fran aise toute l nergique endurance indienne ( Bourrasque 16-17). Constantin-Weyer clearly betrays considerable ambivalence about both the French and the M tis. As he writes, for the Anglo-Protestant half-breeds, les m tis fran ais taient issus de deux races vaincues. Or, chez le m tis, ce n est pas le sang indien qui fait le sauvage, mais bien le sang fran ais (168-69). No less significant, in order to link the M tis to the French, Constantin-Weyer has to dissociate them from the French Canadians. He does so by stressing Quebec s reputed antagonism toward the M tis. Thus, in the first North-West conflict in 1869-70, he shows French Canadians as either patronizing toward the M tis or self-involved, as Riel discovers when he meets with the Archbishop of Saint Boniface in an office filled with nothing but ouvrages de th ologie, ou des monographies de familles catholiques du Bas-Canada (87). In the second conflict in 1885, he has them playing an even more nefarious role. The cur s du Bas-Canada preach across Qu bec la croisade contre l h r siarque Riel and the province itself sends a bataillon de Canadiens-Fran ais to Red River, not to fight alongside the M tis, but against them (226).
One last factor that may account for the resentment by the M tis and French-speaking Canadians toward Constantin-Weyer is his celebration of Anglo-Protestant achievement, what he terms l tonnant po me de la r ussite anglo-saxonne (193). Insofar as La bourrasque has a character who is portrayed favourably throughout the text, it is not a M tis, French Canadian, or Frenchman but Donald A. Smith, the Scottish-born industrialist who became the head of the Hudson s Bay Company and the future Lord Strathcona (Braz 126-28). As the French expatriate historian Auguste-Henri de Tr maudan bemoans, the author reserves the whole of his admiration for the conqueror (258). But, like his anti-clericalism, Constantin-Weyer s exaltation of Anglo-Protestant culture is more complex than his critics care to acknowledge, again underscoring the utter Frenchness of his novel. As one reads La bourrasque , one cannot help but notice that it is always addressed to the people of France. The novelist seems especially determined to remind his compatriots why they have squandered North America. Constantin-Weyer asserts that at one point France controlled much of the continent, from Quebec to Louisiana, with the mighty Mississippi being a fleuve au cours tout entier fran ais ( Bourrasque 16). But France has lost most of its possessions in North America, and the author places the blame squarely on its culture. More specifically, he faults the country s Catholicism, which he tends to equate with the New Testament, with its puerile love-thy-brother fantasies, as opposed to the Old Testament s enseignements virils favoured by the British (149).
Constantin-Weyer s Anglophilia, his apparent Orange bias (Edgar vi), would seem to reflect his desire to prove to the people of France that they had to emulate the British if they were ever again to become a dominant culture. But his frequent praises of the Protestant ethic also make it puzzling why his English-Canadian translator and/or publisher felt compelled to change the text so radically. Tr maudan, for one, was so disgusted by the novelist s disparagement of the true character of Riel (257) that he was certain or perhaps hopeful that a sophisticated people such as English Canadians would never wish to have works like La bourrasque rendered into their own language. As he mused, who would take the trouble of translating them for the English reader, knowing how little he is interested by gossip and tittle-tattle? (259). Needless to say, like other commentators before him, Tr maudan seriously misjudged the magnitude of the appetite for the scurrilous. In 1930, there appeared not one but two English translations of Constantin-Weyer s novel: A Martyr s Folly in Toronto and The Half-breed , in New York.
The translations, both of which are anonymous, are similar but not identical. 5 The U.S. version, The Half-breed , is generally faithful to the source text. A Martyr s Folly also tends to be close to the original, except at critical points, usually dealing with political figures or institutions. For instance, one of the highlights in Constantin-Weyer s novel occurs when Riel s lover Mrs. Hamarstyne publicly horsewhips the Ontario poet Charles Mair (Bourrasque 32; Martyr s Folly 32). The episode is based on a historical incident involving Mair and a prominent English-speaking M tis woman named Annie Bannatyne-not Hamarstyne-who had felt slighted by some comments Mair had written for eastern newspapers about the rivalries between mixed-race and white women at Red River (Braz 124-25). But probably because the event had become such a source of humiliation for Mair, who was still a respected figure in both literary and political circles, the translator alters his name to Blair ( Bourrasque 21ff; Martyr s Folly 17ff.). To be fair to the Canadian translator, Constantin-Weyer had provided a precedent with his rather casual attitude about names; the novelist changes not only Annie Bannatyne s surname to Hamarstyne but also the first name of Riel s nemesis Tom Scott to Billy ( Bourrasque 124), and General Frederick Middleton s surname to Littletown (227, 228). Incidentally, both translators reinsert Middleton s real name ( Martyr s Folly 282, 283; Half-breed 282, 283). Also, when Constantin-Weyer suddenly refers to Scott by his real first name, Thomas ( Bourrasque 179), the two translators opt for English consistency and call him William ( Martyr s Folly 225; Half-breed 225).
Other major differences between A Martyr s Folly and La bourrasque- as well as The Half-breed- pertain to legal terms. For example, the Canadian translation renders Constantin-Weyer s le mannequin-chef ( Bourrasque 236) as the stipendiary magistrate-judge ( Martyr s Folly 294) and les mannequins judiciaires ( Bourrasque 240) as the court ( Martyr s Folly 299). 6 But the most blatant discrepancy between A Martyr s Folly and La bourrasque concerns the deletion of whole paragraphs and the insertion of new ones. Toward the end of his novel, Constantin-Weyer relates what happens when Riel finally appears before what the author obviously considers some kind of kangaroo court. The now traumatized prisoner is visited by a Catholic priest named Father Ernest who assures him that his souffrances taient agr ables au Seigneur qui les r servait ses lus de choix ( Bourrasque 240). The intervention by the Machiavellian if not evil clergyman 7 does not exactly help Riel to attain peace of mind, and I will reproduce the entire section to give a sense of why it might have been excised from A Martyr s Folly:
Cette consolation n avait pas emp ch Riel d avoir, pendant deux ou trois jours de la semaine pr c dente, manifest une agitation telle, que ses d fenseurs, Greenshields, Lemieux et Fritz Patrick avaient jug habile de le faire examiner par les m decins l gistes. Malheureusement, ceux-ci, au nombre de deux, appartenaient l un et l autre la loge orangiste de R gina, et leurs conclusions mettaient n ant ce supr me espoir de la d fense 8
On savait, en effet, que les noms des t moins charge remplissaient une longue liste, dans laquelle les militaires se trouvaient en nombre imposant.
Christophe Robinson, l avocat de la Couronne, tait un psychologue averti, et il savait qu un militaire de carri re h site rarement mettre en vidence les p rils et les difficult s des op rations auxquelles il a pris part. Il s agissait pour le g n ral Littletown et pour ses subordonn s, de croix, d avancement, d honneurs, de gloire m me, tous avantages appr ciables et qu il est inhumain de d daigner.
As the author concludes, Riel tait trop intelligent pour ne pas comprendre que la sentence tait rendue d avance, et qu il tait inutile de chicaner sa vie ( Bourrasque 240-41).
Another segment not included in A Martyr s Folly , a rather lengthy one at some five pages, deals with what Constantin-Weyer calls l re des p titions ( Bourrasque 242). Even though Riel s sentence is not unexpected, it still unleashes a passionate campaign on his behalf. From across Canada and the United States, people of all sorts of ethnic backgrounds bombard the Governor General with petitions demanding that the Marquis of Lansdowne spare the M tis leader s life. Lansdowne is sympathetic to the grievances. However, Orange lodges, especially those from Ontario, promptly begin to remind Canadians of Riel s role in the death of the Tom Scott at Red River in which the M tis government not only executed the Orangeman for tenuous reasons but also never returned his body for proper burial (Bumsted 3-4, 10). The lodges warn the country that if the sentence against Riel is not carried out, there will be catastrophes imp riales ( Bourrasque 243), and Lansdowne eventually agrees that Riel must be sacrificed.
Considering Constantin-Weyer s view of the legal system that tries and judges Riel, and his perception of the forces at play, it is not surprising that the passages just discussed would be removed from a translation aimed at an English-Canadian audience. 9 But what is perplexing is why the people responsible for A Martyr s Folly would include new incidents, especially when they do not seem to erase any of the questions about the fairness of the trial. The first episode is quite interesting in that it focuses on Riel s own testimony at Regina, underlining his desire to prove that he is not insane but rather under divine guidance:
I believed that I had a mission, I believe that I have a mission at this very moment I say that I have been blessed by God and I hope that you will not take that as a presumptuous assertion. It has been a great success for me to come through all the dangers I have in that fifteen years. If I have not succeeded in wearing a fine coat myself I have at the same time the great consolation of seeing that God has maintained my views; that he has maintained my health sufficiently to go through the world, and that he has kept me from bullets when bullets marked my hat. I am blessed by God. ( Martyr s Folly 300) 10
As Riel adds, the reason his good lawyers have been so determined to prove he is mentally unstable is that they realize his condition is helpless. He stresses that it should be evident to everyone in the court that there is much sanity in his mission, which is concerned only with [p]ractical results. Besides, if any more proof of his mental health were needed, he has been acknowledged as a prophet by the half-breeds ( Martyr s Folly 301), and not all M tis can be considered crazy.
The additions to A Martyr s Folly are clearly designed to accent the humanity of those responsible for Riel s fate. Intentionally or not, they also reflect the tremendous anxieties about the potential ramifications of his trial and death. The narrator, for instance, informs us that the lawyers representing the government are driven by a desire not for revenge but for justice. As he describes the aristocratic Christopher Robinson, [n]o sign surely in him of the ogre replete and satisfied with his victim s blood, but a certain quivering sensitiveness of feature, the alert brow, the delicate nostril forbade one to associate his delicacy with any hint of weakness ( Martyr s Folly 302-3). The text also dwells at length on the Crown counsel s journey by train home to Toronto. The two lawyers, whom the narrator overhears, are very distressed about the political consequences of Riel s trial and subsequent execution (303). One of them fears that the Liberal opposition in Ottawa will exploit the suspicions alive in the land that the process is not constitutional, particularly the notion of a mere stipendiary magistrate trying a case of such nation-wide importance. The other is more worried that the future prime minister Wilfrid Laurier will appeal to race prejudice (304). As he tells his colleague,
Can you not see how it will work out? The Government are confronted with the jury s recommendation to mercy. Whether that was by reason of alleged insanity or because the offence was a political crime, the result will be the same. If Riel hangs both cudgels will be used to beat the Government, and I can see the capital the honey-tongued Laurier will make out of it. He will cite all the Revolutions that history has justified, and in the same breath with which he tells us that he is a loyal British subject he will sanctify rebellion. I know his game and the dog will be eloquent about it. (304)
Laurier, the second lawyer prophesies, will lose the vote but win the debate, by accusing the Government of negligence in addressing M tis grievances. He parodies Laurier s famous speech about his affinities with Riel: He was a loyal British subject, he d say, but had he been born on the banks of the Saskatchewan he would have shouldered his musket. I know his little game (305). 11 The first lawyer, however, counters that Riel was a kind of Joan of Arc in a mild way and that the Canadian Government is lucky since the Catholic Church is not going to support him in light of his schismatic ideas. He then proposes that the reason Riel is going to die is not because of anything that transpired in Saskatchewan but because of the murder of Tom Scott at Red River. He says: the Orangemen won t let us forget Scott. It is that folly that will hang him in the end, though it can never be brought forward as the prime reason (305). In short, contrary to what he and his colleague have been saying, Riel s trial is one of political revenge. The M tis leader is ultimately judged not for his part in the North-West Rebellion of 1885 but for that in the Red River Resistance 15 years earlier, particularly his involvement in the death of Scott.
A Martyr s Folly raises a series of issues about the nature and, possibly, the ethics of translation. In an essay on the canon of Quebec literature in English translation, Jane Koustas expresses unease about the way in which the selection of texts rendered into English has limited anglophone Canadian readers understanding of Quebec culture (43). Her concern is twofold. On the one hand, Koustas is troubled that, by focusing on a handful of writers, English-Canadian translators have produced their own, somewhat off-sighted canon of francophone literature (51). On the other hand, she is disturbed by the number of seminal texts that are not deemed significant enough to be translated, by what is left out (47). But the problem may be even more extensive than Koustas suggests. As A Martyr s Folly illustrates, a source text can be left out even when it is ostensibly translated.
The case of A Martyr s Folly also shows, of course, the marginal place that translation has occupied in a country like Canada. Although the situation has changed much since 1977, when Philip Stratford could state unequivocally that Canada has as yet no tradition in literary translation (ii), translated works are still not given the attention that they merit by either translators or critics. John O Connor, for instance, laments the semantic inexactness [that] is all too commonplace in Canadian translations, and must prompt head-shaking confusion in their readers (120). His solution to the problem is for critics to make a complete juxtaposition of the original and the translation, which he sees as the sine qua non of the reviewer s task (122). Needless to say, such a step was never taken with A Martyr s Folly . In his previously mentioned introduction to the novel, Pelham Edgar concludes that the translator is to be commended for his reproductive skill, for he has succeeded admirably in rendering the many descriptive passages which so subtly and poetically convey the atmospheric tones of the waste lands in all their seasonal changes. Edgar, who was a professor of both French and English at the University of Toronto and one of Canada s most influential early 20th-century intellectuals, 12 also praises the author for his cunning portrayal of the Crown counsel s journey back to Ontario. His only regret, he says, is that men of such unique quality should have been brought into the book as an apparent afterthought (vii). Given that the train trip occurs only in A Martyr s Folly , not La bourrasque , it is obvious that Edgar never compared the translation to the original. In other words, if the ideal goal of a translation is to produce a parallel text that will convey the source text across that indefinite space that separates one world from another (Atwood 154), then Constantin-Weyer s novel lacks such a counterpart.
Ultimately, though, the most significant aspect of A Martyr s Folly is what it says about authorship. Translation, as Iren Kiss states in the quotation that serves as the epigraph to this essay, requires a creative intervention by the translator (Kiss 19). However, there appear to be limits to this creativity, notably because the authorship of a translation is radically different from that of a source text. Forgetting for a moment the special case when someone writes fiction about real people, as often happens with the historical novel, fiction writers usually have the power to become makers, inventors of worlds. But that is not quite what occurs with translation, where one is attempting to reproduce in another language a text that already exists. For linguistic as well as cultural reasons, it would seem that if one is to transfer a cultural artefact from one language to another, one must somehow find the means to transform it, not create a new one. I have no wish to challenge the idea that any translation entails the creative reproduction of values and inevitably perform[s] a work of domestication (Venutti 1, 5). As other scholars have noted, there is much violence in translation and one should be aware of the extent to which any such linguistic and cultural exchange can be tainted by power, time, and the vagaries of different cultural needs (Dingwaney 6). A translation is also always a critical reading of a text and thus approximate, like all readings (Atwood 154). That said, it appears self-evident that a translation cannot be the form of authorship so many theorists claim, and desire. As Anuradha Dingwaney asserts, the translating subject cannot return to the center he or she has implicitly occupied in the past, but must always be engaged in a subtly dialectical interaction with the source, through which difference is both mediated and recorded, not sacrificed or appropriated (10). Or, to use the language of transculturalism, a translation requires the transformation of elements from foreign cultures, not the production of domestic ones under the guise of otherness. That is, [w]ithout the initial point, there is no counterpoint (P rez Firmat 60). However, this cultural and linguistic exchange is precisely what does not occur in pivotal sections of A Martyr s Folly in which the purported translator assumes the function of author of the text by adding extraneous episodes to the narrative and excising others from it.
This essay was partly written with the support of a Standard Research Grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ( SSHRC ), to which I would like to express my gratitude.
1 Both English versions of Kamouraska were translated by Norman Shapiro. However, Shapiro s name appears nowhere in the 1994 Stoddart/New Press edition, except in a list of New Press Canadian Classics, facing the title page.
2 An anonymous reviewer for the New York Herald Tribune is equally effusive in his assessment of the U.S. translation, describing The Half-breed as a good book on three counts. It is interesting. It is the work of an intelligent man, rather than one of those silly fairy-tales about the noble woodsman. And it is so refreshingly masculine. The novel, concludes the reviewer, is like shaking a big man s hand and squatting down with him beside a campfire to listen to a good story well told (qtd. in Motut 136).
3 Born Maurice Constantin, he changed his surname to Constantin-Weyer upon marrying his second wife, Germaine Weyer (Motut 16).
4 As I explain below, although the name Mrs. Hamarstyne is the invention of Constantin-Weyer, the character is based on a Red River woman named Annie Bannatyne.
5 There are indications that the U.S. edition appeared first and that the main translator was American. For example, while The Half-breed refers to the monopoly that controlled much of the North-West as the Hudson Bay Company (11 ff.), A Martyr s Folly calls it (correctly) the Hudson s Bay Company (8 ff.) Unfortunately, one may never be able to identify the person(s) responsible for either translation, especially the Canadian one. An archivist at McMaster University, in whose archives the Macmillan Canada papers are housed, has informed me that there is no correspondence concerning the translation of A Martyr s Folly (Spadoni).
6 In contrast, The Half-breed provides much closer translations: the puppet chief (295) and the legal puppets (299).
7 While Constantin-Weyer names the priest Father Ernest, he is clearly modelled on Father Alexis Andr , the Breton-born missionary who last ministered to Riel (Braz 156-58).
8 This ellipsis is Constantin-Weyer s.
9 But not from The Half-breed , where they appear on pages 299-300.
10 Both ellipses in this passage appear in the text. The whole paragraph has strong echoes of Riel s testimony at his trial in 1885. See Queen 314-15.
11 At the time of Riel s trial, Laurier addressed a political rally in Montreal s Champs de Mars with the following words: Had I been born on the banks of the Saskatchewan , I would myself have shouldered a musket to fight against the neglect of governments and the shameless greed of speculators (qtd. in Skelton 314). Riel of course was not born on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River but on those of the Red.
12 Edgar was the mentor of such prominent literary scholars as E.K. Brown, Douglas Bush, Kathleen Coburn, and Northrop Frye (Frye 169).
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Ortiz, Fernando. Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar. 1940. Trans. Harriet de On s. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.
P rez Firmat, Gustavo. The Cuban Condition: Translation and Identity in Modern Cuban Literature . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
The Queen v Louis Riel. Ed. Desmond Morton. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.
Saint-Pierre, Annette. Pr face. L Ouest litt raire: visions d ici et d ailleurs . By Robert Viau. Montreal: M ridien, 1992. 11-14. Skelton, Oscar Douglas. Life and Letters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier . Vol. I. Toronto: S.B. Gundy/ Oxford University Press, 1921.
Spadoni, Carl. Email to the author. 29 May 2003.
Stratford, Philip. Bibliography of Canadian Books in Translation: French to English and English to French/Bibliographie de livres canadiens traduits de l anglais au fran ais et du fran ais l anglais . Ottawa: HRCC/CCRH, 1977.
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I am become Aaron : George Elliott Clarke s Execution Poems and William Shakespeare s Titus Andronicus
Part I: The Black Acadian Tragedy of George and Rue
Our children will be every colour eyes can know, and free. (George Elliott Clarke, Qu b cit 92)
We live not in three worlds, but in one. (Aijaz Ahmad 80)
I n Trial I, nearing the close of George Elliott Clarke s Execution Poems: The Black Acadian Tragedy of George and Rue, 1 George Hamilton, the milder of the two brothers who are about to be condemned to hang for murder, hazards a balance sheet of his own and his people s lives in Canada:
Geo : This is a good apple country. Right so. I would like to get on the Dominion Atlantic Railway drivin an engine. If I could go to Africa, to a coloured country, or to Haiti, or even to Cuba, I would go. I would like to get away. On a no-moon night when the only eyes that got vision are God s. Oh, if I could get away, I would do away with sickness and not get away with murder. Who can do more and more and more injustice? (36)
George is a generous man, and he begins his enumeration with the positive: Nova Scotian orchards produce wonderful apples, the fruit of our earthly paradise, celebrated here and elsewhere in Clarke s poetry. Also to be considered an asset is the hope that one might land a job working on the railway-an enterprise that in fact employed significant numbers of African Canadians in the early years of the 20th century, although more often as porters than as engineers. On the other hand, there is injustice and injustice and more injustice. George s wish to get away [o]n a no-moon night when the only eyes that got vision are God s evokes the Underground Railroad, which (ironically, in this context) allowed many persecuted people to flee to Canada, seeking freedom in the darkest of nights. 2 His words also recall the momentous decision of close to 1200 people, who represented nearly a third of the recently arrived Black Loyalist population and the great majority of its leadership and intellectual elite, to leave Nova Scotia for Sierra Leone in 1792, in quest of a more genuine liberty, as George Elliott Clarke puts it in Odysseys Home (110). Those who remained struggled with poverty, lack of human and material resources, and persistent discrimination.
George Hamilton s perception of injustice was accurate in the 1940s, when the historical events recounted in these poems unfolded, as it still would be today, when Black men, in particular, remain disadvantaged with respect to the rest of Canada, as was reported in the spring of 2004 by the Conference Board of Canada. 3 A high human cost is paid for the racialized inequities embedded in our social fabric, and problems with official Canadian multiculturalism linked to this persistent racism have been articulated eloquently by Himani Banerjee, M. NourbeSe Philip, and others. Yet the work of scholars and artists such as John Reid, Tomson Highway, and George Elliott Clarke seems to suggest that both the past and the future construction of Canadian cultural identities relies upon cultural exchange between peoples in a process that is essentially creative. The dynamic portrait of Africadian cultural identity in Clarke s Execution Poems , while hardly rose coloured, can serve as a case study for the construction of one such creative mix-up in the Canadian multicultural landscape.
This paper explores Africadian cultural identity, represented by George and Rufus Hamilton, as the complex product of cultural exchange or transculturation , privileging as a key technology of this cultural exchange the process of literary textual transference, or intertextuality. The concept of transculturation comes from the work of Cuban ethnologist Fernando Ortiz, who, in Cuban Counterpoint , developed the term as a non-Eurocentric alternative term to acculturation , to express the complex processes of intercultural contact, conflict, loss, and acquisition without universalizing the acquisition of Western European culture as human evolution. 4 The concept of intertextuality derives from the humanities, and specifically, from the post-structuralist discourses of the early 1980s, where it was developed in order to better understand how all the various processes of textual transference, including citation, quotation, allusion, and influence, contribute to the manufacture of meaning. 5 Together, the two methodologies allow us to focus on literature and books as agents of transculturation, and on the special status of literary experience in the formation of personal and cultural identity. 6
William Shakespeare s early revenge tragedy, Titus Andronicus , is the primary literary text that is transferred into Clarke s Execution Poems . One reason for this is historical: Titus Andronicus is a work to which the real Hamilton brothers almost certainly had access, for where the British Empire went, there went books, including The King James Bible and The Works of Shakespeare . 7 The role of both of these books in the work of colonization is well known; as Michael Neill puts it, Shakespeare s writing was entangled from the beginning with the projects of nation-building, Empire and colonization; Shakespeare was simultaneously invented as the National Bard and promoted as a repository of universal human values [and] the canon became an instrument of imperial authority as important and powerful in its way as the Bible and the gun (168-69). Looked at from another point of view, this phenomenon explains why one of the rich threads making up the cultural tapestry that is Africadian cultural identity is Shakespeare and, via Shakespeare, the Latin Classical culture to which the early modern Europeans laid claim. Having said this, however, I must first delineate, albeit inadequately, the vivid Africadian colours that are Africa, Acadie, and Indigenous North American, without which there is no Africadian identity to explore.
Nova Scotia, Canada, is the birthplace of George Elliott Clarke and of the Africadian culture and literature that his scholarship and poetry make known and promote. 8 The cultural history of Nova Scotia offers striking illustrations of the complex transitions between cultures, and their manifold social repercussions, which compose transculturation ( Cuban Counterpoint 98). Ortiz s argument that such complex cultural intertwinings characterize our world dovetails with the influential arguments (and language) of Edward Said and other post-colonial theorists, who teach that the best way forward now is a mode of cultural criticism which reflects, indeed espouses, the hybridity engendered by the ever more intertwined histories of the modern world, and which eschews conceptions of identity which are based in fixed ontological categories, whether of race, ethnicity or national identity (Moore-Gilbert 65). This does not mean that we should deny our distinct stories; histories; familial, regional, and national groupings; and the sometimes momentous specificity of movements of people and things; in fact, as George Elliott Clarke has often said, these need more than ever to be researched, learned, told, and respected.
The Africadian story, then, begins with symbolic significance, some 400 years ago, during a period of intense transculturation initiated in what is now Nova Scotia by first permanent French settlement in Mi kma ki and Wulstukwick , the territories of the Mi kmaq and the Maliseet peoples ( Odysseys Home 18n3; Reid 22). Although Europeans had been visiting Eastern North America since at least the late tenth century, when the Vikings stayed for a while at L Anse aux Meadows, in what is now Newfoundland, intercultural relations entered a new phase in 1604, when an expedition led by Pierre Dugua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain explored the coastline and built the first French habitations, first at le Sainte-Croix, where they lost almost half the crew to scurvy and starvation, and then at Port Royal, where they stayed more comfortably until 1607. Acadian culture was born in the fertile matrix of this transculturation, which continues to unfold. And here we should emphasize, with historian John Reid, that the 17th-century history of the Maritimes is primarily Aboriginal history, because not only were most of the people aboriginal, but also it was the aboriginal leaders who had the power to make the most fateful decisions of that era (11). It is widely understood today that the early Acadians survived in their new environment with the help of the Abenaqui, Malecite, Souriquois (ancestors of the Mik maq), and Passamaquoddy peoples who, from positions of relative power, chose to befriend or at least to tolerate them, and to teach them the use of the fishing weir, the snowshoe, the canoe, the traditional medicines, and a host of other useful and necessary things. Less well known is the extent to which the early Acadian colonists also adopted significant elements of First Nations governance and leadership traditions, as Maurice Basque has recently established (170), and possibly of their cultural traditions as well, as the Mi kmaq were known for their skill at music and oration. 9 The significance of the transcultural exchange between the aboriginal and French cultures cannot be reduced to the genocide and acculturation experienced by the aboriginal populations, numerous abuses notwithstanding. The eventual dominance of the European-based cultures does not change the fact that during the 17th century, in northeastern North America, aboriginal and French cultures met and intertwined in a process characterized by the freedom of choice and the relative strength and dominance of the First Nations and their political leaders. Neither is it a denial of the French heritage of the French Acadians to say that Canadians have yet to fully appreciate the extent to which our national identity, and certainly its Acadian part, was forged in the 17th and 18th centuries in a powerful and relatively respectful transculturation or m tissage.
Africadian cultural identity was first formed or performed in the same polyglot womb, and it shares with French Acadian identity a longstanding interchange with Mi kmaq culture, which Clarke does not overlook: the Hamilton brothers, to cite just one example, are initially described as clear Negro, and semi-Micmac (12). History has recorded the presence of several persons of African origin in the Atlantic region in the first decades of the 17th century; as Elizabeth Jones puts it, there was certainly a black presence in those early years (261). One was the unfortunate whom Marc Lescarbot reports to have died on the Jonas while en route to Port Royal in 1606. Another was Jan Rodriguez, who worked as a translator or interpreter in the Dutch colony along the Hudson River, in what is now New York State, in 1613-14 (Johnston 14). It is a third man, however, for whom Clarke claims the title of the first Africadian: Mathieu Da Costa, a member of the De Mons-Champlain expedition, who lived at Port Royal, and who worked as an interpreter between the French and the First Nations.
A.B.J. Johnston, in a monograph for Parks Canada, Mathieu Da Costa and Early Canada: Possibilities and Probabilities , attempts to answer the question of how and why a person of African origin came to be skilled enough in North American aboriginal languages and customs to become a very highly paid translator on a French ship in the first decade of the 17th century. He turns to the colonial exploitation of West Africa by the Portuguese who reached the Gold Coast (today s Ghana) in 1470. Initially the Portuguese were seeking to trade for gold with the Africans, and later for pepper and other commodities. A trade in slaves also developed early on, with consequences that became increasingly tragic as the centuries wore on (Johnston 3). Also early on, the Portuguese involvement in West Africa led to the creation of a distinct identity for a population of African people who worked as intermediaries and translators:
The Portuguese dependence on African interpreters led first to the emergence of specialized and highly valued individuals called grumetes . They carried out translation work and were often active in the trading process itself, assisting with and even carrying out barters and exchanges. Grumetes also sometimes helped with the navigation along the coast of western Africa. (6)
Jones conjectures that the grumetes , like the stonemasons of England or the glass blowers of Venice, developed matrimonial and other strategies so that they could keep the valuable secrets of their specialized occupation within the family unit.
Another group of people who worked as trade interpreters and who were regarded as indispensable to the inter-cultural process (Johnston 6) were the Creole descendants of the Portuguese lan ados , men who went ashore and who lived with the Africans, and their African wives and mistresses. These Creoles were
men and women of African birth but shared African and European parentage, whose combination of swarthy skin, European dress and deportment, knowledge of local customs, and multilingualism gave them an inside understanding of both African and European ways while denying them full acceptance in either culture. (Berlin 257; my emphasis)
Johnston notes that this profile would fit what we know of Mathieu Da Costa, who was a Christian, described as naigre , and who worked as a trade interpreter for the De Mons expedition (7). Whether Da Costa s heritage was grumete , Creole, or other, by the time history catches sight of him in the New World, he was, as Jones reports, a highly skilled individual, commanding an annual salary of 180 Livres a year, whereas the best-paid artisan in Port Royal received 150 Livres and Louis H bert, the apothecary, received only 100 (260). We know too that Da Costa was a proud person, jailed at one point for insolences (Jones 260). Given the expansion of the trade in humans out of Africa at this time, one can only wonder what he might have said.
Johnston notes numerous links between sea-going Dutch, Portuguese, and French ships with both Africa and the New World, and identifies a numbers of ways in which an enterprising and intelligent professional translator and interpreter might have learned the languages and customs of the indigenous North Americans. There were, he argues, plausible chances for a person such as Da Costa to travel to North America to study aboriginal languages and customs, for instance with one of hundreds of vessels that regularly visited the coasts to take marine resources, such as cod and whales, and furs.
Generally speaking, the 1500s witnessed far more European voyages to harvest cod or whales or to trade with Amerindians than it did attempts at founding year-round colonies. One short-lived colonizing initiative in Atlantic waters was a Portuguese venture. Joao Alvares de Fagundes established, or tried to establish, a colony on Cape Breton Island in 1521. Such an undertaking, especially given its Portuguese context, could have offered opportunities for an interpreter-say a relative of Da Costa s-to gain experience with the Mi kmaq. Then again, there is no reason why a Euro-African interpreter could not have come across the Atlantic on a French, Dutch, Spanish, Basque or English ship. Like free agent sports stars today, skilled ship captains, pilots, navigators, and crewmembers often changed the flags under which they sailed. Interpreters would have been no different. (11)
Johnston also argues that it would have been possible for a professional interpreter to study aboriginal North American languages in Europe, where hundreds of aboriginal individuals were taken in the 1500s. Although most of these people were kidnapped, and taken against their will, others travelled to Europe freely, including the son of a St. Lawrence Iroquoian chief, who travelled with Jacques Cartier, and the Mi kmaq chief Messamouet, who chose to travel to France (Bakker 120). 10
It is interesting and reassuring to learn of such proud and independent figures as Chief Messamouet and Mathieu Da Costa, who were not subaltern, nor abject, but highly educated, courageous and skilled individuals, whose knowledge of the world and of the people in it was clearly vast. They stand at the first beginnings of what is now Canada, choosing freely to enter into relationship with people from other cultures, here in this place. The fluently multicultural Mathieu Da Costa points to the importance of the African diaspora to any real understanding of world cultures today, for the enormous disruption of peoples caused by the slave trade has had the long-term effect of placing people originally of African origin around the world, where they have made innumerable and essential cultural contributions.
It is in relation to this same potent period in our collective history that the motif of the pleasant place, or locus amoenus , must first be noted, for the names of these two Canadian cultural identities- Acadian and Africadian -preserve in their etymology the name of Arcadia , the idyllic pastoral country first celebrated by Greek poet Theocritus of Syracuse in the first half of the third century BCE . Ernst Robert Curtius, in European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages , comments that of all the antique poetic genres, pastoral poetry has had, after the epic, the greatest influence :
Arcadia was forever being rediscovered It found its way into the Greek romance (Longus) and from thence into the Renaissance. From the romance, pastoral poetry could return to the eclogue or pass to the drama (Tasso s Aminta ; Guarini s Pastor Fido .) The pastoral world is as extensive as the knightly world. In the medieval pastourelle the two worlds meet. Yes, in the pastoral world all worlds embrace one another. (187)
Curtius traces Arcadia s path from the pastures of Sicily, where Theocritus located it, to the idealized and faraway landscape of Virgil s eclogues, to its transculturation in Goethe s Faust where it takes its place in the restitution of all things (Acts 3:21; qtd. in Curtius 189). Curtius notes that at a critical point in its history, Arcadia is identified with Virgil s Elysium ( Aeneid VI, 638 ff.), with the effect that it evolves into the rhetorical and poetical trope of the locus amoenus or pleasant place :
[F]rom the [Roman] Empire to the sixteenth century, it [the locus amoenus ] forms the principal motif of all nature description It is a beautiful, shaded natural site. Its minimum ingredients comprise a tree (or several trees), a meadow, and a spring or brook. Birdsong and flowers may be added. The most elaborate examples also add a breeze. (195)
It was perhaps because of the beautiful trees and rivers, natural meadows, and abundant wildlife, that explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, whose 1524 voyage to map the east coast of North America was supported by French King Fran ois I, gave to the country the ancient name of Arcadia . The aboriginal North American coast would have fit well, after all, with Ovid s vision of the Golden Age:
The tall
pines grew undisturbed: no shipwrights came to cut
and hew them into masts for ships to plow the distant
and treacherous seas ( Metamorphoses 3)
The lack of apparent state and justice buildings and institutions ( Plaques of bronze with formal legal phrases were as yet unimagined. / There were no benches with judges glaring ), and the natural abundance of food must also have seemed to be evidence of the fact that the new world was related somehow to the Golden Age. Yet, even if the foregoing is accurate, Acadie from the beginning also had North American aboriginal roots, equally signified in the name. Historians Sally Ross and Alphonse Deveau follow Andrew Hill Clark, in suggesting that the name Acadie has a double derivation, both to Arcadia and to -cadie , the indigenous North American Mi kmaq word that has survived in place names such as Shubenacadie, Tracadie, and Passamaquoddy (Ross and Deveau 8). If so, the name of Africadia weaves Africa together with Mi kma ki , France, and the mythological country of a long-imagined Earthly Paradise, Eden, or Golden Age.
The literary motif of the pleasant place, or locus amoenus , is the sign for this meaningful topos in the literary and philosophical tradition, as Jonathan Bate demonstrates; it is identified equally with the enduring myth of the Golden Age, storied in Hesiod s Theogony and Ovid s Metamorphoses , and with the Christian Eden. 11
Thus not only are all loci amoeni alike, they may all be read as vestiges of the classical Golden Age, which, according to the syncretic way of thinking so much favoured in the Renaissance, is itself equivalent to Eden before the Fall. ( Shakespeare 11)
This Christian and classical tradition would have been part of the cultural heritage of the Black Loyalists, the ancestors of the great majority of Africadians, who trace their arrival in Canada to one of two waves of immigration: the first when the nearly 3,400 African Americans who supported the Crown during the Revolutionary War were exiled post-bellum to Nova Scotia in 1783, and the second when nearly 2000 Black Refugees from the War of 1812 arrived in Nova Scotia between 1813 and 1815 (Clarke, Odysseys Home 107-8).
In elaborating his theory of transculturation, Ortiz remarks that the real history of Cuba is the history of its intermeshed transculturations ; in other words:
the highly varied phenomena that have come about as a result of the extremely complex transmutations of culture that have taken place here, and without a knowledge of which it is impossible to understand the evolution of the folk, either in the economic or in the institutional, legal, ethical, religious, artistic, linguistic, psychological, sexual, or other aspects of its life. (98)
The same is surely true of Canada. Although one encounters the view that Canada is a young country-as young as Confederation, or even the repatriation of the constitution-many Canadian cultural identities have deep roots in this early and intense period of transculturation involving the First Nations, the French, the Africans, the English, the Scots, the Basque, the Bretons, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and all the many others. Clarke celebrates the complex cultural multiplicity that brought Africadia into being in the poem Haligonian Market Cry, where food, sexuality, literatures, and languages swirl about in an heady and reproductive mix, an amoral and delicious banquet of promiscuous words and polyglot pleasures.
Part II: Rue opens Shakespeare, and discovers
L: Your metaphors, monsieur, are pure European.
O: Laxmi, I m 100% humanist Aquarian! ( Qu b cit 60)
Ain t we such stuff as humus is made of? ( Execution Poems 21)
Part I of this paper offers a partial reading of Clarke s expression Black Acadian, with its etymologically encrypted mytheme of the Earthly Paradise; Part II returns to Execution Poems subtitle- The Black Acadian Tragedy of George and Rue -to focus on what takes place when Rue opens Shakespeare s first tragedy. Reading Titus Andronicus in Three Mile Plains, N.S. presents the resonant image of Rufus, the angrier and more intellectually gifted of the two brothers, reading Shakespeare, literally opening the book, to discover Aaron the Moor, villain and hero:
I opened Shakespeare
And discovered a scarepriest, shaking in violent winds,
Some hallowed, heartless man, his brain boiling blood,
Aaron, seething, demanding, Is black so base a hue? (25)
Opening Shakespeare is life changing for Rufus Hamilton, because his reading exposes him to a series of subject positions with which he can identify in relation to his own tragic story. These moments of identification are written into Execution Poems as a series of Shakespearean allusions and borrowings, transferred intertextually to become articulations of Rufus s Africadian world. Meanings are densely layered, especially since several of these borrowings are borrowed themselves from Shakespeare s sources, for Titus Andronicus looks back repeatedly not only to Ovid s Metamorphoses , but also to Horace and to the tragedy of Hippolytus as it was penned by the Roman tragedian and philosopher, Seneca the Younger. 12 The intertextual weave of Clarke s poems forms a matrix for the literary construction of Rufus s cultural identity; to use a different metaphor, the Shakespearean passages linking Aaron, Rufus, and Nat Turner, thread together in emergent narrative coherence.
All kinds of formal, literary strategies are used by Clarke to build the Shakespearean intertext in Execution Poems . Rufus s act of reading and citation is itself a purposeful allusion, bringing Titus Andronicus into play, as Bate reminds us when he specifies that allusion , from Latin al-ludo to play with, is what occurs when a source text is brought into play ( Shakespeare 10). Direct quotation, both of Aaron s speech and of the Latin spoken by Chiron and Demetrius, is another straightforward method for constructing intertext. In addition, Clarke practises the classical rhetorical technique of imitatio , or stylistic imitation and amplification, as he also deploys a very wide range of rhetorical figures and tropes. A just reading of the insistent hammer imagery in the murder scene depends upon our recognition of an imitatio , and may serve to remind us that the technique was and is practised as a kind of homage; so, with one exception, Rufus imitations are of Shakespeare s Aaron. The hyperbolic pretension of Clarke s implied author to go out shining is an imitatio of a daring claim made by Shakespeare s Aaron. Clarke also composes a locus amoenus , which is by definition an imitatio . Finally, and arguably, we can trace in Execution Poems the kind of imitatio that Bate refers to as the submerged source ( Shakespeare 10), one that fulfills Petrarch s poetic ideal: the similarity [between the two texts is] planted so deep that it can only be extricated by quiet meditation. The quality is to be felt rather than defined (88). 13 Submerged sourcing of the Hippolytus may underpin representations of horses, sexuality, rape and incest, in Love Wars, Original Pain and Identity II, where these images serve to connote the degradations of the Age of Iron.
The scene of reading, purposeful allusion, and direct quotation of Reading Titus Andronicus in Three Mile Plains, N.S. locate the narrative through line of the book and build the case for Rufus s interpretation of murder as righteous revenge. Aaron is quoted:
Aaron, seething, demanding, Is black so base a hue?
And shouting, Coal-black refutes and foils any other hue
In that it scorns to bear another hue. O! Listen at that!
I listen, flummoxed, for language cometh volatile,
Each line burning, and unslaked Vengeance reddens rivers. (25)
Shakespeare s Aaron shouts to counter the nurse s racialist attack on his newborn son, whom she calls a devil (4.2.66), and a joyless, dismal, black and sorrowful issue / as loathsome as a toad / Amongst the fair-faced breeders of our clime (4.2.68-70). The Moor s famous rhetorical response- Is black so base a hue? (4.2.71)-is backed up fatally by his sword. Rufus s surprised O! Listen at that! expresses in domestic, Black Nova Scotian English, an immediate, gut-response identification with Aaron.
Rufus s positive response to Aaron has a striking correlative in the reception of Aaron by Black audiences in post-apartheid South Africa. Anthony Sher and Gregory Doran have documented how black audiences identified so powerfully with Aaron that they cheer him right the way through the plot to rape Lavinia, backing off only when he hacks off Titus s hand. When Aaron defies Tamora s order to kill their black child, saying Tell the empress from me, I am of age / To keep mine own, excuse it how she can (4.2.1-33-4), the entire house erupted:
Yebo! the audience shriek out, Yebo! yelling their approval and solidarity. A memorable show ( Woza Shakespeare! 213)
Commenting on this production, Ania Loomba, in Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism , rehearses the contradictions of a character who is a textbook illustration for early modern stereotypes of blackness (75), yet who is humanized by his defence of his child, which expresses simultaneously his pride in his colour (90). It is not surprising, she argues, that black South Africans, who had long been struggling to affirm that they were of age and competence to govern themselves, to keep their own, would forge emotional bonds with Aaron (75). Greg Doran puts it from a director s point of view: Titus Andronicus has Shakespeare s other great black part (5).
Both in Shakespeare s play and in Clarke s book of poems, Aaron is implicated in the thematic exploration of the place and function of language and, particularly, of poetry. Aaron is well read: when Titus communicates with Tamara s sons by sending them a quotation from Horace, it is Aaron who decodes the literary sign and who understands and acts on the message of the text. Aaron s bloody vengeance at a more abstract level models the counter-discourse of the post-colonial writer, as Clarke suggests:
The smartest, wiliest character in TA is black Aaron, and his malice toward Titus and the whole Roman power structure is driven in part by his lust for revenge against a civilization that considers him barbarous. Aaron is the model of the frustrated and embittered black (minority) intellectual who uses his mastery of the codes of the opposing civilization to wreak endless havoc within it-with a smile He is Othello as if played by Iago. (Email interview)
In Clarke s poem, Rufus s spontaneous identification with Aaron metamorphoses in the following line into something even more powerful: language cometh volatile / Each line burning. This is what Clarke describes elsewhere as the awakening of the link between being and language, between empowerment and articulation ( Odysseys Home 276). Aaron signifies the forging of this critical link. Scholars and writers such as Derek Walcott, NourbeSe Philip and Homi Bhabha point to the paradox that, for the colonized, the language of the colonizers is a double-edged sword, for while it displaces indigenous languages and cultures, and so is an agent of colonization, it is also a weapon that must be seized upon and used. For Rufus, school was violent improvement (25)-offering language and the possibility of a job and a better life, reminding us of Black families long, hard struggle for education. Clarke economically evokes the ambivalence surrounding the acquisition of the English language and literary heritage when, in Childhood I, Rue remembers his mother teaching him to read from a polluted source: her preacher-lover-dad s secondhand Shakespeare and tattered scripture ( Execution Poems 16). Empowerment, including a subjective identification with the English language, is one of the prizes Rufus takes away from his encounter with Aaron, which is also what the Black South African response to Aaron is largely about. That, and vengeance.
The archaic grammar ( cometh ), the Latinate diction ( volatile ), and the invocation of Vengeance further link the advent of language to the King James Bible and thus to the role of Christian religion and Biblical text in the African-North American experience of resistance and rebellion. Rufus himself contextualizes the scene of his encounter with Shakespeare as that period when the Bible was the alimentation offered to the starving bodies and souls of the violently displaced and dispossessed:
Rue: When Witnesses sat before Bibles open like plates
And spat sour sermons of interposition and nullification,
While burr-orchards vomited bushels of thorns, and leaves
Rattled like uprooted skull-teeth across rough highways,
And stars ejected brutal, serrated, heart-shredding light,
And dark brothers lied down, quiet, in government graves,
Their white skulls jabbering amid farmer s dead flowers-
The junked geraniums and broken truths of car engines,
And History snapped its whip and bankrupted scholars,
School was violent improvement. I opened Shakespeare
And discovered (25)
Witnesses and Bibles open like plates are details that identify Africadia as a community of believers ( Odysseys Home 155) and point to the centrality of the Church throughout African North America. Rufus s reading is thus located after the religious revival known as the Great Awakening, which swept over New England in the 1830s and 40s, and during which African Americans, encouraged by a doctrine promising the grace of God to all persons, regardless of race, embraced Christianity in large numbers (Lambert 188). The Loyalist immigrants to Canada would have been caught up in this movement, due to the many ties and continuities linking African Americans and African Canadians during this formative period. 14 The time of Rufus s reading, while burr-orchards vomited bushels of thorns, suggests the thorns and burrs of Genesis 3:18: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. The dark brothers lying down quiet in government graves, recall Original Pain and George Rue: Pure Virtuous Killers, alluding to the fact that the brothers apparently helped to convict each other in court: They had face-to-face trials in May 1949 and backed each other s guilt ( Execution Poems 12). The images framing the scene of Rufus s reading speak of death, exile, slavery and its consequences, and align symbolically with the Iron Age, when brothers were at their brother s throats (Ovid 4), and when Cain slew Abel.
There is not room to rehearse the endless associations of fratricide and brotherhood, but we must note that brotherhood is an important leitmotif in Titus Andronicus , with five pairs of brothers, Lucius s demand that Alarbus be sacrificed Ad manes fratrum to the shades of our brothers (1.1.101), Titus s repetition of the word, 15 and the captured Tamora s unsuccessful appeal for her son s life, which, by addressing her conquerors as Roman brethren (1.1.107), attempts to assert a brotherhood of man between the aristocratic Andronici and the Goths (and Moors), cultural others of the Roman empire. The scene compares with an extraordinary challenge to slaveholders recounted by William Parker in The Freedman s Story, published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1866, and discussed by Ella Forbes in By My Own Right Arm : Redemptive Violence and the 1851 Christiana, Pennsylvania Resistance :
[William] Parker engaged the slaveholder [Gorsuch] in a biblical debate Gorsuch said to Parker, does not the Bible say, Servants, obey your masters ? Parker replied that the same Bible said, Give unto your servants that which is just and equal. He went on to ask the slaveholder, Where do you see it in the Scripture, that a man should traffic in his brother s blood? Enraged, Gorsuch said, Do you call a nigger my brother? Yes was Parker s simple reply. Challenging Gorsuch s denial of the African s humanity, he then went on to say, prophetically, to Gorsuch in the biblical admonishment, If a brother see a sword coming, and he warn not his brother, then the brother s blood is required at his hands; but if the brother see the sword coming, and warn his brother, and his brother flee not, then his brother s blood is required at his own hand. I see the sword coming, and, old man, I warn you to flee. (165)
The existence of such a superb discourse in the background (or unconscious) of the brotherhood theme in the African-American context necessarily enriches Clarke s referencing of it, both in this deployment of two characters who are brothers, and in his key phrase, fratricidal damnation (25). 16 The book of Genesis is a deep source here and elsewhere, for example, in the soon-to-be-recounted soaking of the taxi driver s car seat with his blood:
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said until Cain, Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said, I know not: am I my brother s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother s blood from thy hand. (Genesis 4.8-11)
Biblical exegesis teaches that the theme of brotherhood, a metonymy for the bond that links humanity, is handled with growing complexity from the beginning of Genesis to the end (Fokkelman 53). If the complex relations between Joseph and his brothers signify social progress and the evolution of the rule of law, Execution Poems recalls Cain and Abel to defy complacency on the subject.
Also rooted in the Old Testament is the concept of righteous revenge or redemptive violence, which deeply informed the American slave rebellions, including that of Nat Turner, with whom Rufus explicitly expresses solidarity. Nat Turner, who was born into slavery on October 2, 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia, was executed on November 11, 1831, for his role as leader of one of the most destructive slave insurrections in the history of the United States of America. He believed himself to be a Christian prophet, and his rebellion has been described as the most significant early example of organized black religious nationalism (Ogbar 51). Nat Turner is known to have been a man of extraordinary intelligence (Greenberg 1):
From his early childhood until his execution by the state of Virginia, Turner had found in his life and in the natural world a series of signs to be interpreted. The comments that he would become a prophet or that he was unfit for slavery, the marks on his head and chest, his ability to read without being taught, and finally the revelation instructing him to seek the kingdom of Heaven-these signs all seemed to point in a single direction: God had commanded him to lead his people in a great battle against slavery. Nat Turner was a semiotic rebel-a man moved to action by reading and interpreting the signs of heaven and earth. (Greenberg 2)
Like Aaron, Nat was a villain or a hero, depending on one s point of view; he was also a community leader and, like many other African-American and African-Canadian community leaders of his time, he was a preacher.
Rufus describes Nat Turner as Aaron s heir, and since he also identifies with Aaron, he in effect proposes that both Turner and himself, independently, identify with Shakespeare s character:
Like drastic Aaron s heir, Nat Turner, I s natural homicidal: My pages blaze, my lines pall, crying fratricidal damnation. (25)
This is a literary genealogy, as the images of pages and lines (of poetry) confirm, and it highlights the value placed on literacy in certain African-North American cultural traditions. In I Saw the Book Talk : Slave Readings of the First Great Awakening, Frank Lambert explains that although the spoken word and its performance at revivalist meetings played an important role in the conversion of the poor and enslaved, many of whom would have been illiterate, the Great Awakening also promoted literacy. 17 First-hand readings of Biblical text were a crucial element of black religious nationalism from its beginnings, as African Americans demonstrated great interest in becoming literate, responded to the chance to read with courage and diligence, and demonstrated desire and ability (187).
One of the surprises contained within the rich writings of Africans who testify to their experiences of eighteenth-century revivalism is the importance of reading [B]y examining how slaves related to the printed word, we see a much more active, intellectual effort by individuals who, as readers, not only consumed texts but produced their own meetings, often reaching conclusions very different from those intended. (186)
Nat Turner was evidently one such reader; Rufus Hamilton, another. The scene of Rufus reading Shakespeare frames the only instance of direct and fully acknowledged quotation from Titus Andronicus . A second passage of direct quotation, the Latin phrase in the following passage, is unmarked:
Sit fas aut nefas , I am become Aaron, desiring poisoned lilies and burning, staggered air, A King James God, spitting fire, brimstone, leprosy, cancers, Dreaming of tearing down stars and letting grass incinerate Pale citizens prized bones. What should they mean to me? A plough rots, returns to ore; weeds snatch it back to earth; The stones of the sanctuaries pour out onto every street. (25)
The symbolism remains largely Biblical: poisoned lilies mock Easter (Matthew 6:28); ploughshares dissolve back into earth to become weapons again (Isaiah 2:4; Joel 3:10); and a King James God spits apocalyptic fire and brimstone, tearing down stars in an eternal hell of righteous revenge (Revelations 6.13; 19.20). What should they mean to me? recasts Cain s famous-and damning-question. But here the intertext turns strongly toward Shakespeare as well, and the Latin passage Sit fas aut nefas cites not only Titus Andronicus , but also Shakespeare s Latin sources. It means, be it right or wrong, so what Rufus is saying is: Be it right or wrong, I am become Aaron .
The phrase occurs in Titus Andronicus when Tamora s two surviving sons, Chiron and Demetrius, in an act of revenge against Titus Andronicus, who has conquered their country and sacrificed their brother, decide to rape Lavinia, Andronicus daughter. Demetrius says:
Sit fas aut nefas , till I find the stream To cool this heat, a charm to calm these fits, Per Stygia, per manes vehor . (1.1.632-63)
The Latin phrases together mean: Be it right, or wrong, I am carried through the Stygian regions, the realm of shades, and Execution Poems references the complete sentence, since Per Stygia, per manes vehor is an epigraph to the book. Bate explains that the first phrase, Sit fas aut nefas , perhaps adapts a verse in Horace (see [ Titus Adronicus ] 4.2.22): cum fas atque nefas exiguo fine libidinum / discernunt avidi - when, under the influence of ardent sexual desire, they scarcely distinguish between right and wrong ( Odes , 1.18.10-11) ; as well, the language recalls Procne s confounding of right and wrong in Philomela s story, when she decides to kill her innocent son, and feed him to his father, in revenge for her sister s rape fasque nefasque / confusura ruit (Ovid, Met. 6.585-56) ( Shakespeare and Ovid 165-66). The second part of the sentence, Per Stygia, per manes vehor , is an adaptation from Hippolytus : Per Styga, per amnes igneos amens sequar ( I [Phaedra] will madly follow you [Hippolytus] through Styx and through fiery rivers (180). The revision of the Latin suggests purposeful adaptation of the original, Bate argues, citing Robert Miola s argument that Phaedra s expression of frustrated love becomes here an expression of personal abandonment to evil. Styx flows within the human soul ( Shakespeare and Classical Tragedy 14; Titus Adronicus 166). Shakespeare, it appears, judiciously selected and fit together bits of his Latin readings in order to focus on the ambiguous moral framing of desire and of revenge. 18 An extreme emotional state in which right and wrong cannot be distinguished from each other is followed by a descent into hell. The whole passage is reminiscent of Rufus s claim: We re damned because desire is not damned (37).
The intertext here supports the idea that Rufus-like Nat Turner, Procne, Aaron, Chiron, and Demetrius-chooses to do evil in order to have revenge against evil, thus interpreting (or misinterpreting) revenge as good. 19 Rufus is redefined as a Public Enemy ( Execution Poems 32), defying damnation: as he says of Fredericton, I want to muck up their little white paradise here (32). He tells his more pragmatic brother, Here s how I justify my error: / The blow that slew Silver came from two centuries back. / It took that much time and agony to turn a white man s whip / into a black man s hammer (35). Like Nat Turner, and like the participants in suicide slave rebellions such as the one represented in Dionne Brand s At the Full and Change of the Moon , Rufus gives up his life in an act of rebellion against slavery, at least according to his own interpretation. He compares his sacrifice to that of Christ on the cross: we ll hang like Christ hanged (41); as did Nat Turner, who saw himself as consciously taking up Christ s yoke, and who launched his rebellion with a last supper (Greenberg 3).
Rufus s act of revenge, the murder of the Fredericton taxi driver, is described in a series of passages that illustrate rhetorical imitatio , in that they constitute an imitation and expansion of one of Aaron s phrases, spoken to Tamora as he refuses and turns away from her lovemaking to focus on the impending murder of Bassanius and the rape and mutilation of Lavinia:
Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, Blood and revenge are hammering in my head. ( Titus Andronicus 2.2.38-39)
The Killing reiterates, expands, and offers variations:
Rue: I ingratiated the grinning hammer
with Silver s not friendless, not unfriendly skull.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rue: Iron smell of the hammer mingled with iron smell of blood
and chrome smell of snow and moonlight.
Geo : He had two hundred dollars on him; bootleg in him.
We had a hammer on us, a spoonful of cold beer in us.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rue: Twitchy, my hand was twitchy, inside my jacket.
The hammer was gravity: everything else was jumpy.
I wondered if Silver could hear his own blood thundering,
vermilion, in his temples, quickened, twitchy, because of beer;
The hammer went in so far that there was no sound-
just the slight mushy squeak of bone. (34-35)
These passages play out the identification with Aaron, which Rufus has already affirmed, through the formal elaboration of the words that describe the act of murder, mediating and metamorphosing the component elements of the crime as only language can do.
There is at least one other instance of formal imitatio in Execution Poems , and that is the creation of a locus amoenus , pleasant place or pleasance. Bate notes that in Titus Andronicus , the lovemaking of Tamora and Aaron is set in a formally invoked locus amoenus reminiscent of a passage in Seneca s Hippolytus that describes a Golden Age landscape:
the lofty grove s deep places, where cool Lerna is transparent with its crystal shoals, and the silent forest-depths, wherein the complaining birds make music, and the ash-trees and ancient beeches quiver, moving gently in the breeze. Sweet it is to lie on the bank (lines 505-10)
Tamora echoes these words thus:
My lovely Aaron, wherefore look st though sad When everything doth make a gleeful boast? The birds chant melody on every bush, The snakes lies rolled in the cheerful sun, The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind And make a chequered shadow on the ground. (2.2.10-15)
In Shakespeare s play, very shortly, the same site will be transformed into the dark forest and gaping pit wherein evil will have its day, and the motif of the pleasant place of course also disappears. Bate notes that this reversal corresponds to the important narrative and mythological event, linked to a well-known Ovidian phrase, spoken by Titus and also quoted (twice) in Thomas Kyd s Spanish Tragedy , which was one of Shakespeare s sources: Terras Astraea reliquit Astraea [goddess of Justice] has left the earth (Ovid 1.150). When Justice or Astraea flees the earth, the Iron Age begins, and pleasant places are no more.
Clarke s poems evoke a similarly emblematic set of two scenes in Trial II :
Rue: This courtroom s a parliament of jackals--
see Hitler faces front dark robes.
Unsullied, though, a wafer of light slivers water;
unspoiled, the wind rattles alders.
I would like very much to sing-
in a new life, a new world,
some April song-
A slight dusting of snow,
the indigo dawn hovers-
and we sweeten in our love,
yes, something like that,
but blood must expunge, sponge up, blood. (37)
Clarke s beautiful locus amoenus- Unsullied, though, a wafer of light slivers water; / unspoiled, the wind rattles alders -compactly evokes each of the essential elements of the classical topos : water, trees, shade, a breeze. As in the Shakespearean text, it contrasts with a signification of human barbarity telegraphically, if enigmatically, communicated by the lines This courtroom s a parliament of jackals-/ see Hitler faces front dark robes. As well, it is not difficult to see that Justice is absent in the Iron Age kind of world described in these poems, where boys abused and starved grow into very dangerous men. So, in the passage quoted above, Rufus, like Aaron, turns away from love to take up revenge.
Rufus falls out of love, yet a certain delicacy characterizes his imitatio of Lavinia s rape. Clarke introduces a trope that recollects Shakespeare s language but erases the criminal violation. Aaron says
There speak and strike, brave boys, and take your turns;
There serve your lust, shadowed from heaven s eye,
And revel in Lavinia s treasury. (1.1.630-31)
In Clarke s poem Rue says
Open your gold mine-suave dark shaft
cream wet with jewelled love-beneath me,
so I ll mine and mine, staking fierce claim,
your kisses puttering rapturous about my face. (29)
The language of mining and staking a claim reiterates Shakespeare s diction of striking and treasury, and clearly enough evokes woman as property, or colony; Clarke s text actually develops this aspect by referencing the woman as India (26) and by the using the phrase to rape money (13). Clarke figures sexual and colonial violence and commodified sexuality, but his characters celebrate sex, and commit murder, but not rape.
I am convinced that Seneca s Hippolytus , which was one of Shakespeare s sources for Titus Andronicus , is, via Shakespeare, what Bate calls a submerged source in Execution Poems . The Hippolytus story, told by Seneca and before him, Euripides, is archaic, preserving mythological fragments relating to horses (etymologically preserved in Hippolytus name, and mode of death), sexuality and sexual passion (everywhere in this story), rape (and not rape, as in the story of Potiphar s wife), incest (the sexual passion of Phaedra, the mother, for her stepson), bestiality (Phaedra s mother and the Bull of the Sun), and betrayal (the boy is falsely accused and is killed by his father). Several of these elements turn up in Clarke s poems, some without much realistic motivation; for instance, the imagery linking horses to sexuality in Love Wars and Original Pain, and of incest (and horses) in Identity II. Hippolytus is a palette for these darkest colours.
The final intertextual path this paper will trace begins, like the others, with the words of Clarke s text, and concludes in the contemplation of artistic expression-poetry-as a response to the world s evils. I have shown that Clarke constructs a literary genealogy whereby both Rufus and Nat Turner inherit from Aaron:
Like drastic Aaron s heir, Nat Turner, I s natural homicidal:
My pages blaze, my lines pall, crying fratricidal damnation. (25)
We must look again at these lines, which point both to poetry and to murder. Who is the I who speaks in this evocative blend of African Nova Scotian and Shakespearean English? Rufus loved literature (see Childhood II in Execution Poems 17), and spoke almost perfect English as Clarke notes in Malignant English, building details from the trial transcripts into the poems-but Rufus was a murderer, not a writer. 20 Clarke, too, is bidialectal, fluent both in African Nova Scotian and Shakespearean English varieties. 21 The pronoun I may be ambidextrous, but it seem

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