By Dr Michael Syrotinski
Defying Gravity is an immense reassessment of the paintings of Jean Paulhan in the context of his personal occasions, in addition to within the gentle of up to date debates in literary thought. top recognized for his long-serving editorship of the influential Parisian literary evaluation, los angeles Nouvelle Revue Francaise, Paulhan is now broadly stated as some of the most imperative but least understood figures of twentieth-century French highbrow and literary historical past. Syrotinski's examine admirably plays the twin objective of introducing a certainly leading edge and detailed author to a normal anglophone readership, whereas attractive severely along with his texts and their reception. Syrotinski's readings of Paulhan are either unique and provocative, and firmly identify him as an unavoidable aspect of reference for twentieth-century French literary heritage and thought.
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Extra info for Defying Gravity: Jean Paulhan's Interventions in Twentieth-Century French Intellectual History
It is a structural necessity of the system that metaphor be read as metonymy, even though the inverse, as the narrator demonstrates, is always possible. To continue would, it appears, involve either pursuing the complexities of the problem that have come to light, or giving up the theoretical gains in favor of a feigned success. The proverb can least of all be simply cited; it can only be presented in the form of a representation, a mime, and although we are given literal, thematized versions of this mimicry in the latter half of the essay, the narrative is in fact concerned at every point with its own mode of representation.
While Caillois and Paulhan, who both proposed theories of the sacred, seem to have been at opposite extremes of the specturm, it is possible, I would suggest, to see a deeper complicity between them. A closer look at how the two writers elaborated their respective theories of the sacred, however, reveals in fact a deeper theoretical rapport between them. As Caillois shows, for example, in many Australian and North American Indian tribes, opposing clans have distinctly complementary and symmetrical prohibitions, and totemic emblems, such that what is sacred for one clan is profane for another, and vice versa, thereby allowing for a mutual exchange between the two.
He collected about 3,000 proverbs, this research being so appreciated on Madagascar that it earned him a place on the Malagasy Academy. 9 The articulation of such an epistemology takes as its point of departure the critical rereading of works produced by ethnographers thought at the time to be "proAfrican"; from Frobenius's descriptions of an idealized African society, to LévyBruhl's theories of "primitive" cultures exhibiting a "prelogical" mentality, and Placide Tempel's attempts to describe the Bantu "soul" in his Bantu Philosophy, with its merging of African and Christian spirituality.