Themes, Forms and Metamorphoses- Essays in Honour of David Gascoigne
Edited By Lorna Milne and Mary Orr
Mairi Maclean - Tournier and his Intellectual Milieu: Narratives of Modernity -175
Mairi Maclean Tournier and his Intellectual Milieu: Narratives of Modernity The title of this essay, which focuses on Tournier’s intellectual milieu, and on narratives of modernity within that, refers to the fact that Tournier as a writer is something of a sponge, porous, absorbing the intellectual milieu, thoughts and currents around him, and incorporating this resource into his writing. As he himself puts it: ‘Éponge, pierre ponce, les milieux étrangers m’envahissent et me modifient massivement’ (VP 277).1 He resembles the dispaired twin Paul, separated from his identical twin Jean, who, at the end of Les Météores, understands meteorology from within: he is l’homme-baromètre, possessed of ‘[u]n corps poreux où la rose des vents viendra respirer’ (M 610). In this sense, Tournier very much ref lects the (changing) times in which he is writing. This concept of ‘porosity’ is clearly very important to Tournier in determining his relations and interactions with the outside world. He eschews the introspection more typical of some twentieth-century French authors (such as Proust or Sartre) in favour of a celebration of the outside world, of nature, akin to that of Jean Giono, whose writing he admires, presenting himself as ‘l’homme-jardin’, who ‘par vocation creuse la terre et interroge le ciel’ (VP 301). There is with Tournier 1 Abbreviations used are as follows: BA = Le Bonheur en Allemagne? (Maren Sell, 2004); C = Célébrations: essais, revised edition (Gallimard, coll. Folio, 2000); E = Eléazar ou la Source et le buisson (Gallimard,...
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