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French Ecocriticism

From the Early Modern Period to the Twenty-First Century


Edited By Daniel A. Finch-Race and Stephanie Posthumus

This book expounds fruitful ways of analysing matters of ecology, environments, nature, and the non-human world in a broad spectrum of material in French. Scholars from Canada, France, Great Britain, Spain, and the United States examine the work of writers and thinkers including Michel de Montaigne, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Arthur Rimbaud, Marguerite Yourcenar, Gilbert Simondon, Michel Serres, Michel Houellebecq, and Éric Chevillard. The diverse approaches in the volume signal a common desire to bring together form and content, politics and aesthetics, theory and practice, under the aegis of the environmental humanities.

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Ecoerotica in Stéphane Audeguy’s La Théorie des nuages (Jonathan Krell)

← 174 | 175 →

Jonathan Krell

Ecoerotica in Stéphane Audeguy’s La Théorie des nuages

Abstract: In his extraordinary first novel about the men who shaped our understanding of clouds, Stéphane Audeguy proposes a provocative interpretation of ‘human geography’. Richard Abercrombie, travelling around the world in the 1890s to compile an atlas of clouds in texts and photographs, abandons science for a new obsession: female genitalia. His atlas, instead of containing scientific information, becomes a collection of photos of women’s sexual organs. Scribbled next to the pictures are enigmatic symbols and words like ‘origin’, ‘similitude’, and ‘infinite’. Audeguy merges gynaecology, meteorology and geology to form a geography of the body. The word ‘origin’ repeatedly written by Abercrombie is undoubtedly a reference to Courbet’s (in)famous oil painting L’Origine du monde [The Origin of the World] (1866), whose photographic quality is shockingly different from the portrayal of female nudes from the time. In his essay Opera mundi, Audeguy suggests that L’Origine du monde depicts a landscape, ‘une vallée extraordinaire, dont les plis semblent des coulées de lave souples et vivantes’, strikingly similar to the many paintings that Courbet made of the source of the Loue, a small river flowing from a cave near his home in Franche-Comté. Like Courbet – and Baudelaire (‘La Géante’), Sade (Justine), and Lucretius (De rerum natura [On the Nature of Things]), Audeguy develops a micro-cult of sexuality with origins in the macrocosm of the sky and the earth, similar to ‘the sexualized world’ that Mircea Eliade finds in many pre-modern societies. As Audeguy states in Opera mundi, the analogy between the human body and nature comes down to our inability to comprehend the endlessness of both: a ‘confrontation avec l’illimité du désir et l’impensable infinité de la nature’. La Théorie des nuages recalls Robinson Crusoe’s eroticised island in Michel Tournier’s Vendredi, and echoes the words of geographer Luc Bureau, who claims that ‘c’est érotiquement que l’homme habite’, and that one who studies the relationship between humans and the earth is destined to become a ‘disciple d’Eros, un érotologue, un expert en érotologie’.

C’est érotiquement que l’homme habite. Le géographe qui, avec patience et modestie, étudie la relation des hommes avec la Terre serait ainsi un disciple d’Éros, un érotologue, un expert en érotologie.1
[Man lives erotically. The geographer who modestly and patiently studies the relationship between humans and the Earth would thus be a disciple of Eros, an erotologist, an expert in erotology.] ← 175 | 176 →

Stéphane Audeguy’s first novel, La Théorie des nuages (2005), calls for an ecocritical reading on several levels. We encounter the familiar Romantic topos of clouds early on, recalling nineteenth-century nature poets like William Wordsworth (1770–1850) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822).2 The first sentence evokes the melancholy of twilight, and leads into the story of the first main character (the only historical figure), Luke Howard (1772–1864). Howard, a London pharmacist, was the first to classify clouds, and his Essay on the Modification of Clouds (1804)3 was much admired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832). Howard may even have crossed paths with the German poet at the prototypical Romantic site of the Rhine Falls in Switzerland, also visited by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851), and painted by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1841). Audeguy subsequently tells the story of Carmichael, a fictional English Romantic painter of clouds, who was driven to suicide by their dangerous beauty and infinitely unfathomable structures. The author then focusses on a different kind of cloud, one that has become an ominous metaphor for the destructive power of nature and of humankind. The narrator compares the volcanic explosion on Krakatoa – and the enormous cloud that it produced – with the obliteration of Hiroshima in a blinding flash, followed by an apocalyptic cloud and black rain. The main narrator of the novel, Akira Kumo, is a survivor of the Hiroshima attack; his attempts to recall the event are part of a fil conducteur decrying humans’ predatory nature and insane Promethean hubris.

But the genius of La Théorie des nuages emanates neither from Romanticism nor from stunning descriptions of the destructive power of volcanic and atomic clouds. Its audacity and originality arise from Audeguy’s ability to detect an erotic presence in nature. Audeguy’s clouds reveal a kind of nature that Canadian geographer Luc Bureau describes with the following formula: ‘notre relation à la Terre et au monde est fondamentalement une relation de désir, de sensualité, d’amour diffus: bref, une relation érotique [our relationship to the earth and the world is fundamentally one of desire, of sensuality, of diffuse love: in short, an erotic relationship]’.4

On the first page of La Théorie des nuages, we meet Kumo, a retired couturier living in Montmartre on the Rue Lamarck. He has just hired a librarian named Virginie Latour to classify his considerable collection of materials related to ← 176 | 177 → clouds.5 Kumo loves to talk about clouds, and it is through his story-telling that Virginie learns about men who shaped our knowledge of clouds and weather. One of these men is Richard Abercrombie, a fictional Scottish meteorologist whose story dominates the final section of the novel, in which he begins a journey around the world with the intention of assembling a complete photographic cloud atlas. His odyssey ends with the compilation of the mysterious and notorious Abercrombie Protocol, the photographic contents of which are the ecoerotica to which I refer in my title.

Abercrombie enthusiastically departs on his voyage ‘à la recherche du temps [in search of weather/time]’ (N 203)6 – as he proudly calls it – but a traumatic event in Indonesia changes his life forever. He arrives in Borneo to continue taking photographs for his cloud atlas, heading upriver with two hunters into the jungle. He is struck by the deafening noise of the rainforest, and realises that – contrary to the animals in English forests, in close proximity to towns – these animals are completely indifferent to humans, unaware that the human being is the ‘prédateur suprême [supreme predator]’ (N 219), killing for recreation, not survival. Left alone to rest in a clearing for a short time, Abercrombie is elated to come across a large orangutan with her baby. They look at each other calmly and without fear: ‘dans ce regard de bête qui n’a jamais croisé celui d’un homme, il n’y a absolument ← 177 | 178 → rien de sauvage [in the eyes of a beast that had never before come across those of a man, there was absolutely nothing the slightest bit savage]’ (N 227; C 189). Sadly, the animals pay for their lack of fear, as one of the hunters shoots the mother from several hundred feet away, then coldly snaps the neck of the baby.7

In a rumination entitled ‘De la nature de quelques choses’, Audeguy examines our ambiguous relationship with nature. He declares that, though we are part of nature, we are denatured animals, and this denaturation is what led to the radioactive cloud over Hiroshima, and the clouds of ashes over Auschwitz.8 Our bond to nature is predatory, like that of the hunter to the orangutan.9 Audeguy prefers ← 178 | 179 → the terminology of arraisonner/arraisonnement, a nautical expression that means to board and seize a ship forcibly:

Nous avons arraisonné la nature, comme un navire: on s’en empare, on s’en croit le propriétaire. […] L’arraisonnement est le mouvement même de notre civilisation; il détermine ses progrès, mais il abrite également un fantasme morbide, dément, qui menace l’humanité elle-même.10

[We have commandeered nature, like a ship: we seize it, we believe we own it. […] Commandeering is the driving force of our civilisation; it determines its progress, but it also contains a morbid, insane fantasy that threatens humanity itself.]

Our desire to commandeer nature amounts to the same Promethean hubris that culminated not only in the atomic bomb, but also in the Chernobyl disaster;11 we treat nature as a stockpile of energy to be used in human technology, which is ultimately uncontrollable, and leads to humanity’s self-destruction.

After that day in the jungle, Richard Abercrombie never photographs another cloud. The shame and the rage felt after the murder of the orangutans alter him forever, and he ceases to be a man of science. The Abercrombie Protocol changes from being about clouds to being about women, as the once puritanical Scotsman’s obsession shifts from meteorology to sexology. Over a century later, Kumo comes into possession of the Protocol, never seen by anyone outside the Abercrombie family, and is surprised that only the first few pages contain pictures of clouds: ← 179 | 180 →

Plus bizarrement encore, il y a ces photographies spéciales qui occupent l’autre face des feuilles, des centaines de photographies de sexes féminins. […]

[L]es clichés ne cherchent pas l’excuse de paraître ethnographiques, ou même anthropologiques. Les sujets qui ont posé sont tous entièrement nus; ils ne portent ni bijoux ni tatouages visibles. […] Les clichés ne relèvent pas non plus du style vaporeux, supposément suggestif, de la photographie dite de charme de ces années-là, ni de la gaudriole puérile de la pornographie habituelle; simplement, frontalement, tranquillement, le professeur Abercrombie, membre de la Royal Society, a photographié des sexes féminins. Ils sont, à l’évidence, soigneusement éclairés pour que tous les détails en soient visibles […]. Les pages de droite sont couvertes de dessins répétitifs où Kumo distingue des coquillages, des têtes d’animaux, encore des sexes féminins, des nuages aussi. Chacune des entrées est datée. (N 197–8)

[Most disturbing of all were those photographs of women’s sexual organs – numbering in the hundreds – on the book’s facing pages. […]

The images could not be explained away as having ethnographic or anthropological value. The women posing in them were wearing no clothes; no folk art, jewels, or tattoos were visible. […] The photographs weren’t fuzzy or gauzy in that suggestive style that had been considered charming in photographs of the period. Nor were they as crude as typical pornography. The images were simple, unadorned. Great care had been taken to highlight every detail. […] The recto page was covered with drawings, the same design, repeated over and over. Kumo could see they were of shells, animal heads, women’s vaginas; a few clouds as well. Each entry was dated.] (C 165)

The Theory of Clouds metamorphoses at this point into a theory of bodies, as Gallimard’s scarlet cover-band proclaimed,12 and a novel about clouds of all sorts – natural and unnatural – turns into a kind of environmental erotica. While Abercrombie’s photographs are solely of women – at first full-length, then limited to torsos – his drawings alternate between vaginas and non-human objects: seashells, animal heads, and clouds. Audeguy finds sexual analogies between the macrocosm of the world and the microcosm of the human body, in the tradition of ancient and medieval thinkers, such as the alchemists of the Near and Far East studied by Mircea Eliade in Forgerons et alchimistes. Eliade devotes a chapter to ‘Le Monde sexualisé [The Sexualised World]’, ‘une conception générale de la réalité cosmique perçue en tant que Vie, et par conséquent sexuée, la sexualité étant un signe particulier de toute réalité vivante [a general conception of cosmic reality seen as Life and consequently endowed with sex; sexuality being a particular sign of all ← 180 | 181 → living reality]’.13 Eliade recalls the gynaecological symbolism of the sacred Earth Mother in traditional societies:

L’idée que les minerais ‘croissent’ dans le ventre de la Terre, ni plus ni moins que les embryons. La métallurgie prend ainsi un caractère obstétrique. Le mineur et le métallurgiste […] collaborent à l’œuvre de la Nature, l’aident à ‘accoucher plus vite’. Bref, par ses techniques, l’homme se substitue peu à peu au Temps, son Travail remplace l’œuvre du Temps.14

[The notion that ores ‘grow’ in the belly of the earth after the manner of embryos. Metallurgy thus takes on the character of obstetrics. Miner and metalworker […] collaborate in the work of Nature and assist it to give birth more rapidly. In a word, man, with his various techniques, gradually takes the place of Time: his labours replace the work of Time.]

In The Death of Nature, Carolyn Merchant explains that from Antiquity through the Renaissance, the prevailing world view saw nature as a living organism with a double personality: normally a kind, ‘nurturing mother’, the earth at times became ‘wild and uncontrollable’, unleashing violent storms, floods, droughts, etc.15 This organic view encouraged respect and restraint from humans. Merchant echoes Eliade when she recounts the sacred vocation of miners who entered ‘earth’s vagina’, and the ‘awesome responsibility’ of metallurgists who engaged in ‘the human hastening of the birth of the living metal in the artificial womb of the furnace’.16

The Scientific Revolution, seeking to impose rationality on the world, seized upon the notion of nature’s destructive side, ‘nature as disorder’, and determined to master and dominate the earth. Nature was no longer viewed as a living being, and was thus ripe for exploitation: ‘the new images of mastery and domination functioned as cultural sanctions for the denudation of nature. Society needed these new images as it continued the processes of commercialisation and industrialisation, which depended on activities directly altering the earth’.17 This mechanistic world view did not completely destroy ecological consciousness; Merchant cites Edmund Spenser (The Faerie Queene, 1590–6), John Donne (1572–1631) and ← 181 | 182 → John Milton (Paradise Lost, 1667–74) among several sixteenth- and seventeenth-century authors who condemned mining as a rape of the earth. Spenser considered mining to be a sin of avarice, comparable to lust: ‘digging into the matrices and pockets of earth for metals was like mining the female flesh for pleasure. […] Both mining and sex represent for Spenser the return to animality and earthly slime’.18

For some years, ecofeminists have been fighting against this ancient association of women and nature. In ‘Unearthing Herstory’, the introduction to The Lay of the Land, Annette Kolodny describes how a protest in Berkeley, California, in 1969 called the ‘Battle for People’s Park’ revealed a deeply ingrained American fantasy, ‘a daily reality of harmony between man and nature based on an experience of the land as essentially feminine – that is, not simply the land as mother, but the land as woman, the total female principle of gratification’.19 The conquest of the American wilderness was, in large part, a violation of this ‘land-as-woman’.20 Kolodny calls for a ‘new symbolic mode’ to govern our relationship to landscapes because ‘we can no longer afford to keep turning “America the Beautiful” into America the Raped’.21 In ‘The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology’, Ynestra King writes of the shared voicelessness of women and nature (heralding Élisabeth de Fontenay’s account of the silence of animals).22 Without feminism, ecology is incomplete: ‘the special message of ecofeminism is that when women suffer through both social domination and the domination of nature, most of life on this planet suffers and is threatened as well’.23

In Audeguy’s novel, a hint of correspondences between the macrocosm and microcosm emerges early on. He devotes several pages to Goethe, whose interest in meteorology led to admiration for Howard’s research on clouds. Goethe researched morphology as well, and Audeguy envisions the similitude Goethe may have observed between clouds and the human brain: ← 182 | 183 →

Même il pense parfois […] que le cerveau des hommes a la forme des nuages, et qu’ainsi les nuages sont comme le siège de la pensée du ciel; ou alors, que le cerveau est ce nuage dans l’homme qui le rattache au ciel. (N 27)

[He even imagined that the brain of man was like a cloud, and thus that clouds represented the heavenly seats of thought, connecting the human and the divine]. (C 17)

Many of Abercrombie’s sketches in the Protocol reveal the same connection – spirals of cloud-like lines shrinking into forms resembling tiny brains (N 247).

But female sexuality is obviously what most interests the author and his character. Audeguy states that the photos in the Protocol have no cultural value: no clothing or markings hint at the women’s ethnicity; nor is the pubic hair ‘airbrushed’, as it might have been if Abercrombie had wanted to conform to his own cultural tradition (N 197).24 More and more, Abercrombie excludes the women’s faces from his photos, focussing on the subject’s pelvic area. ‘L’effet est étrange: les sexes perdent de leur humanité; et l’on voit surgir à leur place des reliefs de chair étonnants, lunaires, volcaniques [Abercrombie began focusing only on the subject’s midriff, which had the effect of dehumanising the sexual organ, creating landscapes of pure flesh, lunar, as it were, or volcanic]’ (N 246; C 205–6). Virginie, annotating and cataloguing the Protocol, is struck by the diversity of the large quantity of vaginas pictured, as Abercrombie must have been: ‘là où, sagement sans doute, le langage commun parlait comme pour le ramener à une simplicité presque domestique, du sexe, ou d’un sexe, Richard Abercrombie, lui, n’avait vu que des sexes; et il n’en était jamais revenu [rather than refer to the female sexual organ in the singular, Abercrombie henceforth used the plural]’ (N 246; C 206).25 In close-up photography, the sexual organs lose ← 183 | 184 → their humanity, and take on the relief of rocky, mineral landscapes. Gynaecology merges with geology to form a geography of the body. Scribbled next to the photos are increasingly enigmatic words – similitude; origine; parallélisme (N 247) – until the last word of the Protocol: Infini [infinite] (N 293).

Similitude and parallélisme are linked to two other obsessive ideas on Abercrombie’s part: isomorphie and analogie. He even dreams of the University of Cambridge creating a Chair of Analogy for him. He is clearly fascinated by the correspondences that he has discovered between nature and humans, giving ‘human nature’ a radical new meaning. The word ‘origin’, which he repeatedly writes, is undoubtedly an Audeguyan reference to Gustave Courbet’s infamous oil painting L’Origine du monde [The Origin of the World] (1866), whose photographic quality inspired Peter Brooks to call it ‘a decisive gesture toward hyper-realism in the representation of the nude’.26 Françoise Gaillard comments on the painting’s ‘réalisme photographique [photographic realism]’,27 shockingly different from the portrayal of female nudes accepted by the Académie des Beaux-Arts [Academy of Fine Arts] at the time – paintings that, like statuary, achieved a ‘désexualisation du sexe’, depicting only a marmoreal ‘petit monticule qu’on croirait fait de saindoux ou d’albâtre, figurant le si bien nommé mont de Vénus [a desexualisation of the genitals, depicting only a little marmoreal mound that seemed to be made of lard or alabaster, representing the so well-named mons Venus]’.28 In his essay Opera mundi (2012), Audeguy suggests that L’Origine du monde should not be considered pornographic, because – as in most of Abercrombie’s photographs – the woman’s face is not pictured. According to Audeguy, what makes an image pornographic ← 184 | 185 → is the concurrence between the permitted view of the face and the prohibited, transgressive view of the sexual organs.29 Like Abercrombie’s pictures, Courbet’s painting is faceless, thus dehumanised.30 It is a landscape that Audeguy describes as ‘une vallée extraordinaire, dont les plis semblent des coulées de lave souples et vivantes, et d’une délicatesse infinie [an extraordinary valley, whose folds seem like supple, living lava flows, infinitely delicate]’ (O 38).

Courbet may well have been sensitive to the correspondence between L’Origine du monde and a particular landscape – it is tempting to see a marked similarity between the painting of a vulva and the many paintings of the source of the Loue, a small river that flows out of a cave near Courbet’s hometown of Ornans in Franche-Comté. Audeguy comments: ‘difficile de ne pas associer la béance de la résurgence karstique, cette vallée étroite, avec la vallée de L’Origine du monde [difficult not to associate the opening of the karstic resurgence, this narrow valley, with the valley of The Origin of the World]’ (O 38).31 Courbet scholars have long noted the resemblance between his canvases of the physiological ‘origin’, and the ← 185 | 186 → geological ‘source’.32 The similarity corroborates Eliade’s recounting of gynaecological myths of the Earth Mother from the archaic ‘sexualized world’, such as the Zuni myth of the origin of the human race, whereby the first humans climbed up four ‘cavern wombs’ until they finally emerged on the surface of the earth.33 The source of the Loue is a karstic spring that mysteriously emerges from a rocky grotto in the Jura Mountains after flowing underground for some distance. For Courbet, the stony origin of the river is a metaphor for the birth of human life, as in many mythologies. Eliade cites numerous myths of petra genitrix, ‘stone parentage’: ‘l’idée que la pierre est source de Vie et de fertilité, qu’elle vit et procrée des êtres humains comme elle a été elle-même engendrée par la Terre [the notion that stone is the source of life and fertility, that it lives and procreates human creatures just as it has itself been engendered by the Earth]’.34 Art historian Linda Nochlin wonders if Courbet’s two paintings may be clues to the origin of art itself:

In an article entitled ‘The Origins of Art’, Desmond Collins and John Onians attempted to ‘trace back’ historically the origin of art to the engraving of crude but recognizable vulvas on the walls of caves in Southern France during the Aurignacian Period, about 33,000 to 28,000 B.C. According to this scenario, masculine desire literally led lusting but frustrated Aurignacian males to represent in stone the desired, absent object – the female sex organ – and thereby to create the very first artwork. In the light of this assumption, all other artworks ought to be considered simulacra of this originating male act, and representation must itself be considered a mere simulacrum of that desired original.35

Perhaps the troubling photographs of Abercrombie’s Protocol are not so out of place, not such a departure from his original scientific task.

The erotic bond between humans and landscapes is – as the preceding examples indicate – as ancient as humankind itself. In Opera mundi, Audeguy refers to two French writers whose work illustrates the connection: in Donatien Alphonse François de Sade’s Justine (1791), the narrator proclaims the ‘étrange desir [strange desire] (O 39)’ to become Mount Etna, and the character Almani transforms into a human volcano through sex; Charles Baudelaire’s ‘La Géante’ (‘The Giantess’) is about a woman and a mountain landscape simultaneously (O 34). In the last two lines of Baudelaire’s sonnet, the poet – exhausted after a day of climbing – wants nothing more than to ‘Dormir nonchalamment à l’ombre de ses seins, | Comme un hameau paisible au pied d’une montagne [Drowse in nonchalance below her ← 186 | 187 → breast, | Like a calm village in the mountain’s shade]’.36 Analogy, or isomorphism – the term that the protagonist prefers – becomes Abercrombie’s new science (N 294). Although it leads nowhere, it serves to actualise the archaic belief of a necessary bond between macrocosm and microcosm: a link between nature and humans. Abercrombie stumbles upon the correspondence in his own way, linking clouds to the region ‘entre les cuisses des femmes [between the thighs of women]’ where he ‘avait dressé l’autel de sa religion personnelle [had […] built the altar of his private religion]’ – Virginie admits that this ‘n’était pas un culte plus fou qu’un autre [was no more or less crazy a cult than any other]’ (N 310–11; C 259). The key to understanding Abercrombie’s odd science is the last term that he scrawls in his notebook: ‘infinite’. This concluding word is his best description of the limitless irregularities in natural and human geography. One could never truly measure, Abercrombie believes, ‘chaque sinuosité, […] chaque anfractuosité [each sinuosity, each anfractuosity]’ (N 292) of a mountain-side, a vaginal wall, a cloud, or the coast of Cornwall – of which he says that ‘la plus petite irrégularité, prise en elle-même, se compose de minuscules anfractuosités, de sorte qu’il faut aller jusqu’à dire que la côte des Cornouailles est rigoureusement infinite [the tiniest irregularity itself consists of even tinier irregularities, and so on, such that we would have to conclude that the coastline was infinite]’ (N 293; C 245). Such an act would lead one to become lost in the fractal-like infinity of nature – just as Carmichael, the painter of clouds, lost his mind when he attempted to illustrate the infinite mise en abyme that he perceived in clouds. As Audeguy succinctly puts it in Opera mundi, the analogy between the human body and nature comes down to our inability to comprehend the endlessness of both: a ‘confrontation avec l’illimité du désir et l’impensable infinité de la nature [confrontation between the limitlessness of desire and the unthinkable infinity of nature]’ (O 39).

In Terra erotica, Bureau contends that Nature’s very condition is desire: our relationship with nature is erotic. Nothing has changed since Plato’s Symposium (360 BCE), in which the doctor Eryximachus declares that Love’s empire extends over all of nature, human and non-human alike.37 For Bureau, Eros is the greatest of the gods; he even makes an appearance in the harsh Old Testament, most notably in the Song of Solomon, a love poem infused with natural metaphors. ‘L’œuvre d’Éros repose […] sur le principe de l’indissoluble unité du monde. La sainteté et la volupté, la nature et l’homme, le bien et le mal, la force et la douceur cohabitent ← 187 | 188 → sans hostilité [the work of Eros rests on the principle of the indissoluble unity of the world. Saintliness and sexuality, nature and man, good and evil, strength and gentleness live together without hostility]’.38 One is reminded of the beautiful passages in Michel Tournier’s Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique (1967), in which Robinson Crusoe’s sexuality turns toward the ‘voie végétale [vegetal realm]’,39 and he begins a love affair with the soft earth of a valley. His erotic relationship with the island is accompanied by readings from the Song of Solomon 7.2–3 and 7.7:

Ton ventre est un monceau de froment entouré de lis.

Tes seins sont comme deux faons, jumeaux d’une gazelle.

Ta taille ressemble au palmier, et tes seins à ses grappes.40

[Thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.

Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. […]

Thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.]

Robinson’s sexuality, like Abercrombie’s, possesses an inextricable bond between the human and the non-human, the microcosm and the macrocosm.

Bureau laments the fact that, for many of us, nature and Eros have nothing in common. When Eros abandons nature, the world is nothing but faded matter:

Sans le titillement voluptueux d’Éros, la nature n’est plus qu’un agrégat muet de matière, qu’un corps dénudé semblable aux débris d’un astre éteint. Sans Éros, les lieux de la Terre ne sont plus que des morceaux d’espaces réductibles à leurs seuls attributs physiques ou géométriques.41

[Without the voluptuous titillation of Eros, nature is but a silent aggregate of matter, a bare body, like the debris of a dead star. Without Eros, the places of the Earth are but pieces of space reduced to nothing but their physical or geometrical attributes.]

Desire, he writes, is an attribute not only of humans, but also of the earth:

Sans désir, l’homme n’est plus qu’une statue de sel. Sans désir, la Terre n’est qu’un grain de poussière dans l’Univers, un astre mort, tout au plus une figure géométrique difforme. C’est sous les auspices d’Éros qu’un pacte se noue entre le désir de l’homme et le désir de la Terre.42

[Without desire, man is nothing more than a statue of salt. Without desire, the Earth is but a speck of dust in the Universe, a dead star, at most, a deformed geometric shape. It is under the auspices of Eros that a pact is made between man’s desire and the Earth’s desire.] ← 188 | 189 →

Bureau calls himself an érotologue [erotologist]. He writes:

J’ai fait mon choix. Parmi tous les dieux connus ou inconnus, chastes ou noceurs, bienveillants ou malveillants, il n’en est qu’un dont je voudrais m’instruire des aventures sur Terre, Éros, celui qui assure l’union des éléments primordiaux et qui suscite le désir amoureux.43

[I’ve made my choice. Among all the gods known or unknown, chaste or unchaste, benevolent or malevolent, there is only one I would like to teach me of worldly adventures: Eros, he who ensures the union of the primordial elements and who arouses love’s desire.]

Tournier’s Robinson sheds his puritanical past to become an érotologue when his ‘elemental’ sexuality changes elements: his love affair with the earth is verticalised, redirected towards the heavens – sky, sun, constellations.44 He no longer experiences the ‘brutal pleasure’ of genital sex, but a solar or cosmic sexuality:

Mes amours ouraniennes me gonflent au contraire d’une énergie vitale. […] S’il fallait nécessairement traduire en termes humains ce coït solaire, c’est sous les espèces féminines, et comme l’épouse du ciel qu’il conviendrait de me définir.45

[My sky-love floods me with a vital energy […]. If this is to be translated into human language, I must consider myself feminine and the bride of the sky.]

His days are identical; he lives in an eternal present. He writes in his logbook: ‘mes journées se sont redressées. Elles ne basculent plus les unes sur les autres. Elles se tiennent debout, verticales, et s’affirment fièrement dans leur valeur intrinsèque [it is as though, in consequence, my days had rearranged themselves. No longer do they jostle on each other’s heels. Each stands separate and upright, proudly affirming its own worth]’.46 This passage inspired Gilles Deleuze’s comment in the Postface [Afterword] to the novel that Robinson’s existence becomes ‘une érection généralisée [a generalised erection]’.47

Like Robinson, Abercrombie is truly the érotologue that Bureau describes in the epigraph at the beginning of the present analysis. Robinson’s mind is filled with erotic images and symbols from classical mythology: ‘Vénus, le Cygne, Léda, les Dioscures… je tâtonne à la recherche de moi-même dans une forêt d’allégories [Venus, the Swan, Leda, the Twins… I grope in search of myself in this forest of ← 189 | 190 → allegory]’.48 Similarly, Abercrombie’s analogies lead him to conclude that ‘tout, dans l’univers, revient au même: le monde est la résultante de la combinaison de formes toujours identiques [everything in the universe reverts to the same forms. The world consists of recurring combinations of these forms]’ (N 248; C 207). Abercrombie’s universe is ruled by vaginas and clouds, his two personal obsessions. They are not only analogous but infinitely complex, as the final word of the Protocol suggests.

Where did Stéphane Audeguy find inspiration for this troubling and truly original novel? I have mentioned his debt to Tournier’s Vendredi and Les Météores. Tournier would probably have seen Audeguy as a kindred spirit if he had read the article in Le Monde des livres in which Audeguy says that ‘je n’écris jamais sur la nature, mais j’espère écrire avec [I never write about nature, but I hope to write with it]’.49 Like Tournier’s two novels, La Théorie des nuages treats nature as a subject, rather than a lowly object lorded over by humans. Audeguy thus accomplishes an important task that ecocritics have assigned to contemporary writers. In the article ‘Littérature & écologie’, Nathalie Blanc, Denis Chartier and Thomas Pughe – referring to Lawrence Buell’s Writing for an Endangered World (2001)50 – insist on a writer’s capacity to evoke ‘l’environnement non human […] comme acteur à part entière et non seulement comme cadre de l’expérience humaine [the non-human environment […] as an independent actor and not simply as a frame around human experience]’,51 giving nature the status of subject, not object.52 The three critics maintain that fiction must not settle for imitating non-human nature; it must aim for ‘le renouveau, voire le bouleversement, de notre façon de l’appréhender [a renewal, even a revolution, in the way we comprehend nonhuman nature]’.53 In this regard, Audeguy has admirably succeeded. Readers of La Théorie des nuages will never look at clouds without being reminded of volcanic eruptions, nuclear annihilation, and the lacy veil of Eros. ← 190 | 191 →

Stéphane Audeguy is not a ‘nature writer’ in the American tradition initiated by Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82). ‘Dans mes romans, […] il n’y a aucune description de nature pure. Sont en revanche présents des personnages qui ne sont pas des humains [in my novels, […] there is no description of pure nature. There are, however, characters who are not human]’.54 There are clouds and their simulacra: volcanoes; the explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the ashes of Auschwitz. La Théorie des nuages bears some resemblance to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Les Rêveries du promeneur solitaire [The Reveries of a Solitary Walker] (1782); like Rousseau, Audeguy wishes to ‘mettre en relief des intensités liées à la perception de la nature [highlight the intensity of the experience of perceiving nature]’.55 But one must go back to Roman antiquity to find Audeguy’s most compelling influence. In ‘De la nature de quelques choses’, Audeguy suggests that ‘rien n’a changé depuis Lucrèce. Tout est possible [nothing has changed since Lucretius. Everything is possible]’.56 The Latin poet’s De rerum natura [On the Nature of Things] is an epic poem about all things big and small, material and immaterial: the principle of atomism that structures the universe, nature and its phenomena; the creation of the world and the development of civilisation; human psychology, biology, sexology, and mortality. Scientific and philosophical, it nevertheless opens with a prayer to Venus – goddess of love, ‘power of life’ – who can ‘hush the winds and scatter the clouds’.57 Lucretius, celebrating the dispersal of wind and clouds in the wake of Venus’s arrival, prefigures the transition in Abercrombie’s life from clouds to sex. Abercrombie’s Protocol represents Audeguy’s belief in – as he writes in Opera mundi – ‘l’illimité du désir [the limitlessness of desire]’ (O 39). Similarly, the Roman poet prays that Venus will vanquish her bellicose lover Mars ‘by the never-healing wound of love’,58 so that ‘tranquil peace’ may finally supplant ‘barbarous war’ among mortals.59 La Théorie des nuages carries a similar message. Who would not prefer the work of Abercrombie – which converts cirrus, cumulus, stratus, and nimbus clouds to a ‘cult’ of sexuality, a terra erotica – to the folly of warring nations, whose technology invented the very particular kind of cloud that rose above Hiroshima, ‘un nuage prolongé, jusqu’au sol, d’un pédoncule effilé, un nuage posé sur un pied comme ← 191 | 192 → un champignon grotesque [a tall cloud, anchored to the ground by an enormously long stalk: a cloud on a pedestal, like a grotesque mushroom]’ (N 270; C 226)?


Abercromby, Ralph, Seas and Skies in Many Latitudes (London: Edward Stanford, 1888)

Audeguy, Stéphane, ‘De la nature de quelques choses’, in Les Assises du roman 2009, ed. by D. Bourgois (Paris: Bourgois, 2009), 241–8

—, La Théorie des nuages (Paris: Gallimard, 2005)

—, Opera mundi: une rêverie (Paris: Créaphis, 2012)

—, The Theory of Clouds, trans. by T. Bent (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007)

Baudelaire, Charles, Œuvres complètes, ed. by C. Pichois, vol. 1 (Paris: Gallimard, 1975)

—, The Flowers of Evil, trans. by J. McGowan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Beuve-Méry, Alain, ‘Stéphane Audeguy: “Nous avons arraisonné la nature”’, Le Monde des livres (21 May 2009), <> [accessed 25 May 2016]

Blanc, Nathalie, Denis Chartier and Thomas Pughe, ‘Littérature & écologie: vers une écopoétique’, Écologie & Politique 36 (2008), 17–28

Brooks, Peter, Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993)

Buell, Lawrence, Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U. S. and Beyond (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001)

Bureau, Luc, Terra erotica (Montréal: Fides, 2009)

Derrida, Jacques, L’Animal que donc je suis, ed. by M.-L. Mallet (Paris: Galilée, 2006)

—, ‘The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)’, trans. by D. Wills, Critical Inquiry 28.2 (2002), 369–418

Eliade, Mircea, Forgerons et alchimistes (Paris: Flammarion, 1956)

—, The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy, trans. by S. Corrin (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1978)

Ferry, Luc, Le Nouvel Ordre écologique: l’arbre, l’animal et l’homme (Paris: Grasset, 1992)

Flahault, François, Le Crépuscule de Prométhée: contribution à une histoire de la démesure humaine (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2008) ← 192 | 193 →

Fontenay, Élisabeth de, Le Silence des bêtes: la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité (Paris: Fayard, 1998)

Gaillard, Françoise, ‘Allégorie d’un fantasme fin de siècle: Courbet, L’Origine du monde’, in Mimesis et semiosis: littérature et représentation, ed. by P. Hamon and J.-P. Leduc-Adine (Paris: Nathan, 1992), 427–34

Guichard, Thierry, ‘Le Monde réapproprié: dossier Stéphane Audeguy’, Le Matricule des Anges 101 (2009), 18–27

Heidegger, Martin, Basic Writings: From ‘Being and Time’ (1927) to ‘The Task of Thinking’ (1964), trans. by D. F. Krell (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1977)

Howard, Luke, Essay on the Modification of Clouds (London: Josiah Taylor, 1804)

King, Ynestra, ‘The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology’, in Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism, ed. by J. Plant (Philadelphia, PA: New Society, 1989), 18–28

Kolodny, Annette, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975)

Latour, Bruno, ‘Arrachement ou attachement à la nature?’, Écologie & Politique 5 (1993), 15–26

Lucretius Carus, Titus, On the Nature of Things, trans. by M. F. Smith (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2001)

Merchant, Carolyn, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1989)

Nochlin, Linda, ‘Courbet’s L’Origine du monde: The Origin without an Original’, October 37 (1986), 76–86

Serres, Michel, Le Contrat naturel (Paris: Flammarion, 1992)

Tournier, Michel, Friday, trans. by N. Denny (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997)

—, Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique (Paris: Gallimard, 1996) ← 193 | 194 →

1 Luc Bureau, Terra erotica (Montréal: Fides, 2009), 9 [unreferenced translations are mine].

2 Wordsworth’s ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ (1807) is one of his best-known poems. Shelley’s ‘The Cloud’, published with Prometheus Unbound (1820), meditates – like Audeguy’s narrator – on the infinite nature of clouds: ‘I change, but I cannot die’ (76).

3 Luke Howard, Essay on the Modification of Clouds (London: Josiah Taylor, 1804).

4 Bureau, Terra erotica, 9.

5 Stéphane Audeguy, La Théorie des nuages (Paris: Gallimard, 2005), 19–20 [hereafter N]. The proper names are well chosen. Kumo means ‘cloud’ in Japanese, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the great naturalist, had an interest in clouds: he proposed a five-type classification in 1802, just before Luke Howard’s more famous four-type classification (cirrus, cumulus, stratus, nimbus).

6 The phrase recalls Marcel Proust’s masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu [In Search of Lost Time] (1913–27), and is a play on the two meanings of temps (time and weather), bringing to mind one of the major themes of Michel Tournier’s Les Météores (1975), which Audeguy cites as an inspiration for La Théorie des nuages. Temps as weather is the major concern of Audeguy, but the first sentences of his novel remind us of its other meaning: ‘vers les cinq heures du soir, tous les enfants sont tristes: ils commencent à comprendre ce qu’est le temps. Le jour décline un peu. Il va falloir rentrer pourtant, être sage, et mentir [all children become sad in the late afternoon, for they begin to comprehend the passage of time. The light starts to change. Soon they will have to head home, and to behave, and to pretend]’ (N 13). Stéphane Audeguy, The Theory of Clouds, trans. by T. Bent (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007), 3 [hereafter C]. Michel Serres’s Le Contrat naturel (Paris: Flammarion, 1992) regards ‘les deux temps’ as a central concern (51). Climate change is essentially a problem of temps as weather, but our inability to deal with it comes down to a refusal to consider temps as time in the long term. Similarly, ‘pollution matérielle’, exposing temps as weather to major risks, is a function of ‘pollution culturelle’, the mismanagement of the earth that began many centuries ago (57).

7 In a personal interview, Stéphane Audeguy revealed that his character Richard Abercrombie is loosely based on Ralph Abercromby (1842–97), a well-travelled Scottish meteorologist and author of Seas and Skies in Many Latitudes (London: Edward Stanford, 1888). Audeguy has a copy of a lithograph featuring Ralph Abercromby proudly standing behind an orangutan that he had just shot. The fictional Abercrombie, who detests hunting, is profoundly changed by his travels and becomes closer to nature; his historical namesake remained an avid hunter.

8 Stéphane Audeguy, ‘De la nature de quelques choses’, in Les Assises du roman 2009, ed. by D. Bourgois (Paris: Bourgois, 2009), 241–8 (245). The title, ‘On the Nature of Some Things’, is a tribute to Titus Lucretius Carus’s De rerum natura [On the Nature of Things] (50 BCE). Audeguy’s remark on humans’ problematic place in nature echoes the dispute between the typical humanist position which considers humans separate from nature – as Luc Ferry argues in Le Nouvel Ordre écologique (Paris: Grasset, 1992) – and environmental philosophers like Michel Serres and Bruno Latour who contend that humans have never been disconnected from nature. Bruno Latour, ‘Arrachement ou attachement à la nature?’, Écologie & Politique 5 (1993), 15–26.

9 In an interview, Audeguy cites the novels of Jules Verne as excellent illustrations of our predatory instinct, of the ‘fantasme occidental de la clôture, de faire le tour du monde. Verne exprime quelque chose de l’emprise capitaliste, scientifique et marchande sur le monde qui est encore vrai: la predation [the Western fantasy of enclosing, of going around the world. Verne expresses something of the capitalistic, scientific, and commercial appropriation of the world that is still true: predation]’. Thierry Guichard, ‘Le Monde réapproprié: dossier Stéphane Audeguy’, Le Matricule des Anges 101 (2009), 18–27 (21). In Le Crépuscule de Prométhée [The Twilight of Prometheus], François Flahault devotes a lengthy chapter to Verne’s ‘Promethean imagination’. In Verne’s exceedingly virile ‘geographical’ novels, male protagonists embark on improbable conquests of nature, science, and technology, ‘pour dominer ce qui les domine [to dominate that which dominates them]’. François Flahault, Le Crépuscule de Prométhée (Paris: Mille et une nuits, 2008), 122. La Théorie des nuages critiques this western worldview in passages on military men who arrogantly ignored the science of meteorology, or attempted to enlist the weather to help defeat an enemy: Napoleon in Russia and at Waterloo (N 104–7), the French navy during the Crimean War (N 86–7), and the American planners of the Hiroshima attack (N 156–7).

10 Audeguy, ‘De la nature de quelques choses’, 244. Arraisonner has been used by French translators of Heidegger to convey the term Gestell, usually translated as ‘enframing’. The term captures the threatening essence of technology – reducing nature to a ‘standing reserve’ – that Heidegger describes in ‘Die Frage nach der Technik [The Question Concerning Technology]’ (1953). David Farrell Krell explains the hostile nature of Gestell in his introduction to Heidegger’s essay: ‘the question concerning the essence of technology confronts the supreme danger, which is that this one way of revealing beings may overwhelm man and beings and all other possible ways of revealing. Such danger is impacted in the essence of technology, which is an ordering of, or setting-upon, both nature and man, a defiant challenging of beings that aims at total and exclusive mastery’. David F. Krell, ‘The Question Concerning Technology’, in Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings: From ‘Being and Time’ (1927) to ‘The Task of Thinking’ (1964), trans. by D. F. Krell (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1977), 284–6 (285).

11 The connection between Prometheus and Chernobyl is painfully direct. In front of the ruins of the nuclear plant stands a bronze statue of the Titan, triumphantly stealing fire from the gods in order to give it to humans. Flahault, Le Crépuscule de Prométhée, 11–13.

12 Below the title – La Théorie des nuages – appeared a provocative red band: ‘et des corps [and bodies]’.

13 Mircea Eliade, Forgerons et alchimistes (Paris: Flammarion, 1956), 29; The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy, trans. by S. Corrin (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 36].

14 Eliade, Forgerons et alchimistes, 7; The Forge and the Crucible, 8.

15 Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1989), 2.

16 Merchant, The Death of Nature, 4.

17 Merchant, The Death of Nature, 2.

18 Merchant, The Death of Nature, 39.

19 Annette Kolodny, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), 4 [‘Unearthing Herstory: An Introduction’].

20 Kolodny, The Lay of the Land, 155.

21 Kolodny, The Lay of the Land, 148.

22 Élisabeth de Fontenay, Le Silence des bêtes: la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité (Paris: Fayard, 1998).

23 Ynestra King, ‘The Ecology of Feminism and the Feminism of Ecology’, in Healing the Wounds: The Promise of Ecofeminism, ed. by J. Plant (Philadelphia, PA: New Society, 1989), 18–28 (25).

24 For earlier reflections on this subject, see Peter Brooks, Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 17; Françoise Gaillard, ‘Allégorie d’un fantasme fin de siècle: Courbet, L’Origine du monde’, in Mimesis et semiosis: littérature et représentation, ed. by P. Hamon and J.-P. Leduc-Adine (Paris: Nathan, 1992), 427–34 (428–9).

25 The italics in the French are Audeguy’s. His insistence on the plural (des sexes, not un sexe) translates as an articulation of female subjectivity. Abercrombie is hardly an ecofeminist; Virginie notes that he never quite got over the idea that all the genitalia in his photos were unique and diverse. But Audeguy underscores the dignity of these women who – like nature in René Descartes’s Discours de la méthode (1637) – are mastered and possessed by men. This plural is a plea to save women from male violence, as with Jacques Derrida’s use of animaux (or animot) in reference to another silent minority:

Je voudrais donner à entendre le pluriel d’animaux dans le singulier: il n’y a pas l’Animal au singulier général, séparé de l’homme par une seule limite indivisible. […] [P]armi les non-humains, et séparés des non-humains, il y a une multiplicité immense d’autres vivants qui ne se laissent en aucun cas homogénéiser, sauf violence et méconnaissance intéressée, sous la catégorie de ce qu’on appelle l’animal ou l’animalité en général. Il y a tout de suite des animaux et, disons, l’animot.

[I would like to have the plural of animals heard in the singular. There is no animal in the general singular, separated from man by a single indivisible limit. […] Among nonhumans and separate from nonhumans there is an immense multiplicity of other living things that cannot in any way be homogenised, except by means of violence and willful ignorance, within the category of what is called the animal or animality in general. From the outset there are animals and, let’s say, l’animot.]

Jacques Derrida, L’Animal que donc je suis, ed. by M.-L. Mallet (Paris: Galilée, 2006), 73; ‘The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)’, trans. by D. Wills, Critical Inquiry 28.2 (2002), 369–418 (415–16).

26 Brooks, Body Work, 142.

27 Gaillard, ‘L’Origine du monde’, 429.

28 Gaillard, ‘L’Origine du monde’, 428.

29 Stéphane Audeguy, Opera mundi: une rêverie (Paris: Créaphis, 2012), 37 [hereafter O].

30 Françoise Gaillard’s reading of L’Origine du monde is quite similar: ‘rien, en effet, de louche ni de libidineux dans cette représentation réaliste du sexe autant dépourvu d’érotisme que d’obscénité [there is, in fact, nothing sleazy or libidinous in this realist representation of genitalia lacking eroticism as much as obscenity]’. Courbet’s framing of the painting only allows us to see ‘la génitalité pure […] privée de ce qui la pare de ses troublants attraits: la femme [pure genitality […] deprived of the very object of desire: the woman]’. Gaillard, ‘L’Origine du monde’, 429–30.

31 In this quotation and the preceding one, Audeguy draws attention to the fluid nature of the female sexual organs with terms like ‘lava flows’ and ‘karstic resurgence’ (karstique refers to the limestone composition of the cave from which the spring emerges). In La Théorie des nuages, the descriptions of Virginie’s ‘jouissances océaniques [oceanic orgasms]’ connect the human body to the forces of nature (N 146). In an interview, Audeguy explains:

Dans cette scène de plaisir solitaire, ce qui était important pour moi, c’est qu’on a une femme qui pleut. […] Il y a toute une mystique sur les orgasmes de ces femmes fontaines. Mais pour moi, cette jouissance renvoie à la pluie donc aux nuages. Après, ça m’intéressait que cette bibliothécaire fasse ça, parce que la masturbation est une autonomie. Cette scène lui donne un univers.

[In this scene of solitary pleasure, what was important for me is that we have a woman who rains. […] There is a sort of mystique about the orgasms of these fountain women. But for me, this pleasure is connected to rain and thus to clouds. Also, I found this librarian’s actions interesting, because masturbation implies autonomy. This scene gives her a universe.]

Guichard, ‘Le Monde réapproprié’, 27.

32 Linda Nochlin, ‘Courbet’s L’Origine du monde: The Origin without an Original’, October 37 (1986), 76–86 (82).

33 Eliade, Forgerons et alchimistes, 32–3.

34 Eliade, Forgerons et alchimistes, 35; The Forge and the Crucible, 43.

35 Nochlin, ‘Courbet’s L’Origine du monde’, 81–2.

36 Charles Baudelaire, Œuvres complètes, ed. by C. Pichois, vol. 1 (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 22–3; The Flowers of Evil, trans. by J. McGowan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 41.

37 Bureau, Terra erotica, 54.

38 Bureau, Terra erotica, 63.

39 Michel Tournier, Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique (Paris: Gallimard, 1996), 140.

40 Tournier, Vendredi, 156.

41 Bureau, Terra erotica, 71.

42 Bureau, Terra erotica, 73.

43 Bureau, Terra erotica, 59.

44 Tournier, Vendredi, 264.

45 Tournier, Vendredi, 265; Friday, trans. by N. Denny (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 212.

46 Tournier, Vendredi, 252; Friday, 204.

47 Gilles Deleuze, ‘Postface: Michel Tournier et le monde sans autrui’, in Tournier, Vendredi, 317 [‘Afterword: Michel Tournier and the World without Others’].

48 Tournier, Vendredi, 268; Friday, 214.

49 Alain Beuve-Méry, ‘Stéphane Audeguy: “Nous avons arraisonné la nature”’, Le Monde des livres (21 May 2009), <> [accessed 25 May 2016].

50 Lawrence Buell, Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U. S. and Beyond (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001).

51 Nathalie Blanc, Denis Chartier and Thomas Pughe, ‘Littérature & écologie: vers une écopoétique’, Écologie & Politique 36 (2008), 17–28 (19).

52 Blanc, Chartier and Pughe, ‘Littérature et écologie’, 24.

53 Blanc, Chartier and Pughe, ‘Littérature et écologie’, 22.

54 Beuve-Méry, ‘Stéphane Audeguy’.

55 Beuve-Méry, ‘Stéphane Audeguy’.

56 Audeguy, ‘De la nature de quelques choses’, 248.

57 Titus Lucretius Carus, On the Nature of Things, trans. by M. F. Smith (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2001), 5.

58 Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 34.

59 Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 32.