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ON THE HAITIAN BEAUTY OF ZADIE SMITH’S BAROQUE WRITING

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Analysing a literary work, an artistic work, often remains a delicate approach,<br /> where the commentator must keep linked to his


ON
THE HAITIAN BEAUTY OF ZADIE SMITH’S BAROQUE WRITING

style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'> 

style='font-family:"Dante MT Medium";color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>by class=MsoHyperlink> href="mailto:jerome.poinsot@ac-toulouse.fr">Jérôme POINSOT

 

 

style='color:black'>Atibô-Legba, l’uvri
bayè
pu mwê, Agoé!

style='color:black'>Papa-Legba, l’uvri bayè pu mwê

style='color:black'>Pu mwê pasé

style='color:black'>Lò m’a tunê, m’salié loa-yo

style='color:black'>Vodu Legba, l’uvri bayè pu mwê

Pu mwê sa râtré

Lò m’a tunê m’a rémèsyé loa-yo, Abobo style='mso-footnote-id:ftn1' href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[1] style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>.

 

 

 

 

Introduction:
the Post-modern, a Category of the Baroque Genre

 

style='color:black'>Analysing a literary work --an artistic work-- often remains
a delicate task, where the commentator must remain linked to his/her critical
process and show that he is open and receptive to the work at the same time,
in order to perceive the sensations, the emotions and the thoughts suggested
by the text. This is all the more the
more since one of the major discourses to which he/she must confront precisely
deals with the light interaction between the emotional sphere on the one hand
and the cognitive sphere on the other hand, in so many different fields of
experience from art and life. This is the very exploration that I hope to
undertake in this paper. I hope that
my deciphering of the artist’s work will not obscure the motion of the reading.

With the advent of contemporary
critique
especially across the Atlantic lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, swept along by the French theory, oscillating
between the poles of the “post-structuralism” and “postmodernism”, or even
the “deconstruction”, some people could try to comfortably tidy up contempory
literary creations, particularly if they appear chaotic style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— style='color:black'>not to say disconcerting. That is why apprehending Zadie Smith’s
novel On Beauty becomes interesting, not to say with the polemical
eye of the critique, but with the patient and the benevolent perspective of
the philologist, to make clear the feel of originality, the finesse and
relevance of a novel which, it could be stated, has not yet received
the attention and the critical recognition that it deserves.

style='color:black'> 

In fact, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>in attempting lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> to characterize Zadie Smith’s novel, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>one arrives at lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> the matter of the conjugal crisis Howard and his
wife Kiki face. As for the rest, the reader is often at a loss, because the
action that takes place is so multifaceted, and the tones varied. Now, faced
with such a diverse and heterogeneous area, it would be beneficial to quote
the critic Georges Molinié style='mso-footnote-id:ftn2' href="#_ftn2" name="_ftnref2" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[2]:

It is from that point
of view [of the psychology] that it is advisable to consider many elements
most commonly listed by these novels’ critics: love affairs, most of the time
suddenly reciprocal, always violent and complete; youth, sometimes extreme,
of particular case of contrary ways set against the liaison (rough or perfidious
actions of brigands or official enemies struggle; theatre of operations proliferation;
roles of the rivers, the seas, of exoticism; frequent connection of one or
many central plots with secondary dramas which can end into profusion; impressions
of surprise and developments, incomprehensible and astonishing appearances
of conjunction and encounters; variable distances, not uniformly determinable,
of the fiction with the historical or geographical framework; final triumph
of faithful love which will have endlessly claimed its freedom, at the time
reunion which can take the form of recognitions (the whole could sometimes
lead to have the heroes undergo a kind of maturing in a long term; weak or
useless meaning of moral or religious references.

Reading this paragraph,
we can just be stirred by its perfect adequacy with Zadie Smith’s novel It
is not a mere contemporary novel, but rather, a genuine baroque novel. This
is why we will follow Eugène d’Ors’s
steps
title="">[3] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> into his trans-historical conception of the Baroque,
and we will first tackle this text from the genre’s stylistic point of view
in order to establish to what length Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty
is truly of the Baroque aesthetic.

 

 

 

1) The
Baroque, Stylistic of the Genre

style='color:black'> 

style='color:black'>Dealing with the Baroque matter in literature is often perilous.
Indeed there are many texts which deal with this genre, sometimes with a fearsome
erudition. This is the case of the excellent book by Bertrand G style='text-transform:uppercase'>ibert href="#_ftn4" name="_ftnref4" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[4] which outstandingly
summarizes the major points of this artistic and literary movement. If Heinrich
Wölfflin style='mso-footnote-id:ftn5' href="#_ftn5" name="_ftnref5" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[5]
is a precursor of it in the field of Art history, we mainly have to thank
Jean Rousset style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[6] for introducing Baroque
aesthetic to literature. However, whether it be Jean R style='text-transform:uppercase'>ousset’s work or Ernst Robert C style='text-transform:uppercase'>urtius’s lang=EN-GB style='mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;text-transform:uppercase'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[7] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> (fluidity, ostentation, morbidity, mythologism,
concetism), or to handle a generic analysis of the mixing of genres, without
managing to restore its own dynamics: we mean its carnivalesque inversion.

Stemmed from the antique
tradition of the Saturnalia name="_ftnref8" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[8]
, this carnivalesque
inversion dynamics has travelled all along the middle ages style='mso-footnote-id:ftn9' href="#_ftn9" name="_ftnref9" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[9],
and has been brightly studied by Mikhaïl Bakhtine
who packed and commented its reappearances in François Rabelais’ work name="_ftnref10" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[10], through chapters
especially devoted to Forms and Pictures of the Popular Celebrations,
the Ludicrous Image of the Body or moreover the “Basic” Materiality
and Corporal Aspect
. Typical of the baroque aesthetic style='mso-footnote-id:ftn11' href="#_ftn11" name="_ftnref11" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[11] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, this inversion is the result of the popular tradition
and is linked, as soon as it appears, to the need of finding a temporary outlet
for the oppression suffered by enslaved populations, or those who were still
very highly oppressed href="#_ftn12" name="_ftnref12" title=""> lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>[12] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.

 

style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>As far as genres are concerned,
Zadie Smith’s text is outstanding. Indeed, the facts it is presented to the
reader as a mere matter of the novelistic genre, it keeps mixing up genres,
not only literary genres
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn13' href="#_ftn13" name="_ftnref13" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[13] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, but more generally speaking, artistic genres.
lang=EN-US style='font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";mso-fareast-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Arial Unicode MS";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

Now,
Didier Soulier
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>had already noticed what follows: “ […] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>the style='color:black'> mixing of genres style='color:black'>(which) style='color:black'> conveys the nature of the baroque experience lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, ambiguous and indefinable since it is an exception
to the categories of thought
class=MsoFootnoteReference>[14] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.” lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>This novel was named after Nick Laird’s poem “On
Beauty
name="_ftnref15" title=""> style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>[15] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.” It is not a coincidence that poetry is of primary
importance in Zadie Smith’s text: one of the major characters of the plot,
before being Howard’s first mistress, is a poetess in charge of a writing
course at the University of Wellington: “Claire was an excellent teacher.
She reminded you how noble it was to write poetry, how miraculous it should
feel to communicate what is most intimate to you, and to do so in this stylised
way, through rhyme and metrics, images and ideas.” We can see that the theme
of the lyric expression, and its ability to infiltrate the text style='color:black'> plays an important role in this novel. The other genre that
surreptitiously weaves its way into the text, is theatrical genre since it
is not rare to find dialogues whose theatricality is undeniable during Howard’s
numerous scenes of arguments under Zadie Smith’s pen. It is so during his
trip to London where Michael encounters him on the way from the metro station to the Kipps’ London home. Their conversation,
begun with a misunderstanding
Michael
being uninformed of the fleeting affair between Jerome and Victoria
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, almost ends with a disputatio of medieval
theology name="_ftnref16" title=""> style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>[16] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>. This theatricality is also pushed to an extreme
degree at the time of a very violent argument when Kiki and Howard try to
talk (203):

‘What is it, Howard?’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black'>Howard had just finished ushering his resistant children out of the
room. They were alone. He turned round quickly, his face a very nothing.
He was at loss as to what to do with his hands and feet, where to stand, what
to rest upon
.

‘There’s
no “it”,’ he said softly, and pulls his cardigan around himself. ‘Particularly.
I don’t know what the question means. It? I mean ... obviously,
there’s everything
href="#_ftn17" name="_ftnref17" title=""> lang=EN-GB style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[17] lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.’
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

Finally, a strong potential of dramatization is at play lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> in three major scenes, style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>which stand out in the text lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>: Howard’s guffaw during the Glee Club at
the annual night party of the University (347-348), the sudden intrusion of
a chambermaid during his torrid date with Victoria at the hotel (380-381)
and at lastly at during the noisy final argument, in the street, at the occasion
of a students’ celebration (409) where all the hidden truths of the novel
are revealed in a dramatic turning point.

To finish with the mixing
of dramatic genres, I would like to focus for a moment on the existence of
critical discourse. Actually, they are rather seldom, and when criticism is
considered in a more significant way in the novel, it is each time t
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>hrough irony or a
parody. That disparagement of
criticism comes from the simple face that it is composed of a considerably
abstract matter
name="_ftnref18" title=""> style='mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[18] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>. One of which the incomprehensible jargon is a
mark of vanity name="_ftnref19" title=""> style='mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[19] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>. That is what we style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>encounter lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, when after his conversation with Zora, Jack French,
with a “Baroque name="_ftnref20" title=""> style='mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[20] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>” way of speaking, cannot prevent himself from
sinking into lexicographical reflections on the expression “stymie” (149).
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>Or, for that matter,
when Monty attempts to annihilate
the meaning of Howard’s speech, using, in his turn, his own “textual anarchist”
(327) concepts. Finally, far beyond the Linguistic arbitrariness of a discipline,
what Zadie Smith’s novel suggests, is a rift in the linguistic activity which
would prevent the characters from acceding to a sincere and efficient speech.

That rift of the linguistic
activity will be filled up, in the narration by resorting to other media like
painting or music. That is how music is very present in the novel, in such
a way that it becomes a major psychological motive
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>especially when it approaches and deals with the
theme of Death. From the Requiem by Mozart to its interpretation by
Kiki in a symphonic poem, to Carl’s musical commentaries, passing by the slam
concerts displayed at the bus stop and by the Ave Verum sung at the
occasion of Carlene’s funeral, music and singing are felt as the only ways
of expressing emotions, and to articulate them in a language. As a lyric power,
music reaches its peak as Levi carries out some locations in order to steal
Hyppolite’s painting, Maîtresse Erzulie:

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>He was still restless. He hadn’t brought
his iPod out with him today, and he had no personal resources to cope with
being alone without music (406). (…)

‘I know you’ve been crying,’ insisted Kiki, but
she didn’t know the half of it: couldn’t know, would never know, the lovely
sadness of that Haitian music, or what it was like to sit in a small dark
booth and be alone with it—the plangent, irregular rhythm, like a human heartbeat,
the way the many harmonized voices had sounded, to Levi, like a whole nation
weeping tune (408).

All this leads me to
my last point
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>but not the least which is the importance of artistic
painting in the novel. By virtue of their professions and sensitiveness, all
the novel’s main characters move in an environment where painting is omnipresent.
In the novel, Monty has “the largest collection of Haitian art in private
hands of that unfortunate island” (113). As far as Kiki and Carlene are concerned,
they became friends by sharing their memories and their philosophy of life
around Hector Hyppolite’s painting, Maîtresse Erzulie (175). Kiki “admires”
(174) the painting that Carlene bought in Haiti “before [she] met [her] husband.”
We can say that this very painting plays an important part in the novel. To
take back a French Creole expression, we could say that it is its “poteau-mitan”
(the load-bearing pole)
, because it is under Erzulie’s patronage and of
her values, that friendship between Carlene and Kiki will be shaped, as well
as a somewhat cultural transmission will occur between Carlene
and Kiki.
It is around this occurrence that style='color:black'> all the novel’s meaning will crystallize, especially via
the attempt of spoliation of the legacy fomented by the Kipps. lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>I shall return to
this point later. The other aspect
which
should lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> be remembered concerning the paintings is the
argumentative support they bring to the narration by the illustrations they
carry out, by the means of descriptions devoted by the narration (ekphraseis style='mso-footnote-id:ftn21' href="#_ftn21" name="_ftnref21" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[21]).
Thus Erzulie’s painting applies very well to the character Kiki, a woman in
love but deceived, steady and whose fresh beauty was hot (172):

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>But she’s my favorite. She’s a great Vodún
goddess, Erzulie. She’s called the Black Virgin
style='font-family:"Dante MT Medium";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>also the Violent Venus. (...)

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘Really. So she’s a symbol?’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘Oh yes. She represents love, beauty,
purity, the ideal female and the moon ... and she’s the mystère
of jealousy, vengence and discord, and, on the other hand, of love,
perpetual help, goodwill, health, beauty and fortune.’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘Phew. That’s a lot of symbolizing.’

‘Yes,
isn’t it? It’s rather like the Catholics saints rolled into one being (175).’

Now, let us see what
Claire Malcolm thought of Kiki when she met Howard (227,
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>emphasis mine lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>):

Claire remembered when
Howard first met his wife, back when Kiki was a nursing student in New-York.
At that time her beauty was awesome, almost unspeakable, but more than
this she radiated an essential female nature
Claire had already imagined
in her poetry—natural, honest, powerful, unmediated,
style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>and lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>full of something like genuine desire style='mso-footnote-id:ftn22' href="#_ftn22" name="_ftnref22" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[22] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.

As far as Howard is
concerned, he works
as Monty had done lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>on a book about Rembrandt. Thus Zadie S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith, mobilises three crucial points in
her novel, already collected by Eugène d’Ors
in his essay about Baroque aesthetic: first of all Rembrandt’s face as the
paragon of the Baroque painting href="#_ftn23" name="_ftnref23" title=""> lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>[23] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, and above all the surprising coincidence with
which Smith updates, in her turn, the themes of history and dissection, which
allowed Eugène d’Ors to introduce his definition of Baroque in his chapter
Anatomy and History name="_ftnref24" title=""> style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>[24] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>”.

In the same way, the
novel’s second chapter, “The antomy lesson”, named after Rembrandt’s
famous picture: Dr Nicolaes Tulp Demonstrating the Anatomy of the Arm,
1632,
perfectly illustrates the work of dissection of which the character
Howard will be subject. In this chapter (Nosce teipsium, “know thyself”,
144), where behind the untimely discovery of this affair with Claire Malcolm,
the motivations for his disenchantment with Kiki will appear.

Finally, the projection
of the final scene of the painting Hendrickje Bathing, 1654 (442),
since it represents “Rembrandt’s love, Hendrickj” (443), with all the interplay
of glances that Kiki and Howard indirectly exchange, in a shaping class=strad21>mise en abyme
, perfectly
emphasizes that in spite of their misadventures and recent separation, Howard
and Kiki will remain very attached to each other.

 

2) The Baroque: Carnivalesque Reversal

 

style='color:black'>These generic elements being components of the Baroque aesthetic
set up, I am now going to focus on what constitutes, more adequately speaking,the
driving force of this novel. It is surprising that this question, which has
already been tackled in all the works I have already quoted, has never been
fully treated. Bertrand G style='text-transform:uppercase'>ibert who quickly lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>invokes lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> the reversal phenomenon, is not very eloquent
about the question of the carnivalesque reversal in the Baroque aesthetic,
sometimes referring, here and there to the Satyre Ménipée. However,
his attitude really reflects a constant tendency of criticism towards this
crucial point of the Baroque art, that of its popular roots
and its tendencies to contestation, and indeed, to anarchy. Besides, Bertrand
Gibert explains to us the reason
for denouncing, in the field of criticism,
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>“an historical resistance of the middle-class
or Gallican France towards Baroque art class=MsoFootnoteReference>[25] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.” lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>This is what I shall
attempt to remedy now. In his work about the Baroque novel, Georges M style='text-transform:uppercase'>olinié’s position is positive on this
point:

What strikes us, when
we read all these Greek and Baroque novels, is the permanence of an efficient
and flexible narrative model: the dramatic progression by a radical change
of the situation data, which can lead to a complete reversal, often with ill.
We will recognize there, from a wider point of view, the special image, the
antithesis, of the art of changing, of the universal impulse, which was so
well announced by Montaigne, and a deep example of the Baroque aesthetic.
It is impossible, on this topic, to find the slightest significant difference
between the Greek and the modern practices of this constituent technique of
the novelistic genre: this feature is too fundamental class=MsoFootnoteReference>[26]
.

From
the historical point of view, Anne-Marie Le Bourg-O style='text-transform:uppercase'>ulé
, couldn’t be more precise on the Roman
origins of this phenomenon of carnivalesque reversal which clearly comes from
the Saturnalia celebration:

The origin of this feast
is told to be lost from immemorial times.
style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>It had lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> already existed in the Ancient Greece before Rome
was founded and that it would have been introduced into the city under the
Consulate of Sempronius and Minucius. According to the legend, Saturn, king
of Crete, chased by his son Jupiter, took refuge in lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> the capital of Janus’ Empire. The fugitive prince
received hospitality there, and, style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>as a show of
gratitude, taught agriculture
to his host.
The latter, class=strad21>to
pay him tribute
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>in return, made him a partner in his kingdom. They founded all the
neighbouring cities together; when they died, the posterity devoted
lang=EN-GB style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>two
months to them lang=EN-GB style='mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
mso-hansi-font-family:"Dante MT Medium";color:black'>, December to Saturn, and
January to Janus, and celebrations were instituted in their honour. The reign
of Saturn is described as a golden age during which no man could be a slave
and no good could belong to a sole owner. From there came the idea that an
entire equality should rule during the Saturnalia
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn27' href="#_ftn27" name="_ftnref27" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[27] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.

As
far as Mikhaïl Bakhtine is concerned,
he
revealed some
interesting points about the symbolical meanings of this reversal:
class=strad21>

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black'>Unlike
official festival, Carnival time was the triumph of a sort of temporary emancipation
of the dominating truth and of the current system, of a temporary abolition
of all the hierarchical links, privileges, rules and taboos. It was the
authentic celebration of time, of the evolving future, of alternations and
revivals.
It opposed to any perpetuation, any perfecting, any end. It
aimed at an uncompleted future.

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black'>The
abolition of all the hierarchical links assumed a very peculiar meaning. Indeed,
in official celebrations, hierarchical distinctions were underlined deliberately,
each person had to appear equipped with all the decorations and titles, ranks
and service records, and hold to the place devolved to his rank. This celebration
aimed at establishing the inequality, contrary to the Carnival which considered
everybody equal, and allowed a particular form of free contacts, friendlier
between persons parted in normal life by the insurmountable fences that were
erected by their conditions, their financial situations, their employment,
their age and their marital status.

In
contrast with the exceptional hierarchical organization of the feudal
system, with the extreme division into states and corporate bodies in everyday
life, this free and friendly acquaintance was very deeply felt and formed
an essential part of the carnivalesque world perception. The individual seems
endowed with a second life which allowed to be in new contact, absolutely
humanlike, with
one’s
fellow mates. The alienation temporarily vanished. Man came back to himself
and felt being a human among human beings. The genuine humanism which characterized
the relationships was not by any mean the fruit of imagination or abstract
thought, it was really achieved and proven in this alive contact and perceptible.
The utopian ideal and the real fused together temporarily in the carnivalesque
perception of the world, one of a kind
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn28' href="#_ftn28" name="_ftnref28" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[28] lang=EN-GB style='color:black;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold'>. lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black;mso-bidi-font-weight:
bold'>

Thus,
the Carnivalesque reversal “allows at last to cast a new look on the universe,
to feel how all that exists is relative and therefore a totally
different order of the world is possible
class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[29] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>” Finally, “it matters
however to emphasize that the carnivalesque parody is very far from the modern
parody which is purely formal and negative; indeed while denying, the first
one consists in a revival and a renewal in the same time. The mere and pure
denial is in general totally unfamiliar to the popular culture style='mso-footnote-id:ftn30' href="#_ftn30" name="_ftnref30" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[30] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.”

After
casting these new lights on Baroque aesthetic, we will be able to discover
examples of it in
Zadie lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Smith’s novel. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>A few general remarks style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'> are needed lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, at first, on this novelist’s technical writing.
The very
stylistic feature that the reader should be recognized as hers is her ability
to tone the events down, as well as the circumstances and the developments
of her stories.
Besides this toning
down makes up a major
facet
of her art which allows
her to postpone the moments
of crises, which increases the suspense and amplifies the violence of the
denouements when they arise. Thus, a major turning point of the fiction which
is so to speak camouflaged in the maze of the narrative ramifications and
the forest of the peripeteias: it is a question of a fundamental reversal,
on which the whole harmony of the novel is built. style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>Whereas
Victoria and Howard, a little merry indeed, have just made love in a pitiful
way the evening of Carlene’s funeral wake, Howard’s desire suddenly disappears
to get reversed at last (318, emphasis mine):
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Together they got dressed, Howard hurriedly
and Victoria languidly, with Howard taking a moment to marvel at the facts
that the dream of many weeks—to see this girl naked—was now replaying in
a dramatic reverse
. He’d do absolutely anything to see her with all clothes
on.

From
then on, Howard’s impetuous and instinctive craving will lessen, up to the
point he totally leaves Victoria, lightly dressed in a hotel’s room
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn31' href="#_ftn31" name="_ftnref31" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[31] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. From that point, the
reader could expect Howard, who up to then had benefited class=strad21>from Kiki’s magnanimous forgiveness,
to find the course of a normal life again. In reality, nothing of the sort
happens, since
news of his misconduct finally catch up with him class=strad21>, after Carl’s disclosures, during
the student party that we have already mentioned. However, it could be seen
in this novelistic psychology effect a mere
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>fictional reversal. class=strad21> If we examine it more closely, we
realise very quickly that this psychological
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>change class=strad21> was not fortuitous because it is
carried, from this third chapter structure point of view, by a reversed development.
The third chapter entitled “
lang=EN-GB style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>On beauty and being wrong
class=strad21>” is composed of twenty-five paragraphs:
thirteen are numbered
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>; lang=EN-GB style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro"'> twelve are preceded by a flower. When we take a
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>closer class=strad21> look at the way lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>in class=strad21>which this chapter is created, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>two conclusions come
to mind. Firstly, style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>
out of twenty-five chapters, the two last ones are dedicated to the outcome
(discovering of the painting under Levi’s bed and revelation by Zora of the
affair
style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>between
Howard and Victoria; separation of Howard and Kiki) and that secondly, out
of the twenty-tree remaining paragraphs, these which start by a flower become
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>the class=strad21>majority and virtually perfectly symmetrical
to those numbered
in the first half, and it was all since the flower, which follows the paragraph
number eight, that is to say
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>from class=strad21> page 362. Now, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>this paragraph marks
the beginning of the novel’s conclusion, in connection class=strad21> with the disappearance of the painting
of Erzulie, which Monty Kipps preferred to hang in his office, in the Black
Studies
department style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>.
So, structurally
speaking style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>,
we can conclude that the inversion of Howard’s psychological dynamic is already
a consequence of the reversal of the very construction of this chapter, around
the disappearance of the painting of Erzulie.

The second reversal,
we want to emphasise now, is double.
class=MsoFootnoteReference> class=strad21>We may remember that in this novel,
men tend to appear the sole holders of the intellectual power, whereas women
would rather be in full possession of bodily or sensory skills
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn32' href="#_ftn32" name="_ftnref32" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[32] class=strad21>. From the beginning of the novel,
the rivalry which opposes Howard Belsey, a White liberal, with Montague Kipps,
a black man whose convictions are traditionalistic is emphasised.

Consequently,
the Kipps’ moving in Wellington forecasts the violent confrontation which
will take place at the University, regarding the
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>discriminatory class=strad21> lectures which Monty Kipps could
deliver. As such, the debate which takes place during the University meeting
(319-331), particularly arranged to close the matter, represents an eloquent
example of the surrounding tension and of the complete antagonism which opposes
the opinions of each character.
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> lang=EN-GB style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>Now, at the end of that meeting, Howard cannot manage to
win the case because Monty Kipps’ lectures are passed at a crushing majority.
class=MsoFootnoteReference> class=strad21>As far as Zora is concerned, she manages
to get a postponement of the decisions concerning the discretionary and unregistered
students (333), what gives an actual expression of the ideas that Howard intended
to defend against Monty’s attacks. Better still, at the end of the novel,
Howard is not the one who obtains Montague’s institutional surrender, but
his daughter Zora, a young woman, one generation younger than him, by probably
threatening Monty to disclose the love affair he was having with a student,
Chantelle (439,
style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>emphasis
mine):

style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>It had been in her power, after all, to get
both Monty and Howard fired
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. To Howard she had strongly suggested a
sabbatical, with reprieve he had taken, gratefully. (...) Monty had been
allowed to keep his job but not his principles
. He did not contest the
discretionaries and the discretionaries stayed, although Zora herself dropped
out the poetry class. These epic acts of unselfishness had lent Zora a
genuinely unassailable moral superiority
that she was enjoying immensely.

To conclude, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>I lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> would like to close this lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>non- lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>exhaustive approach of the carnivalesque reversals
by a comment with regard to Howard’s first name. lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>I am lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> anxious to report an observation lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>I made lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> about an inversion of which the first name of
Howard could be very likely the result of it. When style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>one tries lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> to understand why Howard behaves as he does in
the novel, one cannot escape from
going back over the strong relation of hatred which links him to his father
although distantly.
To sum up, I can say that Howard is his father’s spitting image, though opposite, morally
and intellectually speaking (291-302). Harold, a retired butcher by trade,
is racist and homophobic, seems to only master a very poor vocabulary—he has
never read any book but frequently watches television— style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>;
he beats his son at calculation while playing
class=strad21> Countdown, whereas Howard is unbeatable with the letters. class=strad21>In short, we nearly can say that Howard
is his father’s opposite. Now, if we pay more attention to it, we realize
that actually
at the level of style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>
vowels’ order,
Howard
is really Harold’s opposite.
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>As for the consonants, so to speak
they do not vary: the H- and the -d are the same, and there is only the -r-
of “Harold” which becomes a -w- in “Howard”, which can
very likely be explained by the fact that in Haitian Creole, the English [r]
does not exist, but in Creole, the consonant [r] is pronounced [w]. Therefore,
Howard is a reversed picture—carnivalesque—and style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>mixed with lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> his father Harold’s white
racist values.

These carnivalesque
analysis done, we can henceforth find a confirmation of it in a programmatic
basis of this work
, namely at the threshold this very novel. style='color:black'>

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>She spoke without looking at him. ‘You know
what’s weird? Is that you can get someone who is a professor of one thing
and then is just intensely stupid about everything else? Consult the
ABC of parenting, Howie. You’ll find that if you go about this way, then the
exact, but the exact opposite, of what you want to happen will happen. The
exact opposite
.’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘But the exact opposite of what I want,’
considered Howard, rocking in his chair, ‘is what always fucking happens.’
(…)

style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black'>Kiki pressed her
fingers on each temple like a carnival mind-reader.

Thus the dynamics inversion
is attributed to a mere and simple display of Carnival. However, this carnivalesque
inversion of the world, deeply baroque, could not form the only macrostructural
facet of inversion in the text. It is also propped up by many others more
reduced, which are disseminated all along the novel It is a matter of another
very sparsely commented
feature of the baroque aesthetic, which consists in adjusting “the meeting
of the extremes (coincidentia oppositorum), of the deep misery and
of the insolent luxury title="">[33]”, the obvious antagonism which opposes, for example,
the destitution of Tchou’s flat (358) to Monty Kipps’s luxurious office, at
the Black Studies (405) is a revealing example. According to Bertrand
Gibert:

The very contradictory
aspirations seem to define “the baroque psychology”. Hesitations between refinement
and renunciation, luxury and deprivation, magnificence and asceticism (…)
When Montaigne notices (half a century earlier) that “our life is composed,
like the harmony of the world, of opposite things” (On Experience) he
takes up again the antique phrase of concordia discors, concordance based
on the antinomies, unities “brought together in the discord”.
Now it is
not the harmonious appeasement which characterises the baroque expression
at its start but on the contrary, the exasperation of the contradictions
name="_ftnref34" title=""> style='color:black;font-weight:normal;mso-bidi-font-weight:bold'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[34] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.

Stylistically speaking,
the concordia discors consists therefore in having elements agree,
elements which are a priori logically or semantically incompatible. We find
there all the stylistic phrases of opposition, from the oxymoron to the antithesis.
Opposition
phrases, which are what plunges the baroque text into the sphere of instability
and conflicting chaos. The refusal of the non-contradiction is moreover very
well described by Kiki after Carlene had explained the Erzulie’s symbolic
values (175,
emphasis mine):

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Phew. That’s a lot of symbolizing.’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘Yes, isn’t it? It’s rather like the Catholics
saints rolled into one being.’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘That’s interesting…’ began Kiki shyly, giving
herself a moment to remember a thesis of Howard’s, which she now wished to
reproduce as her own for Carlene. ‘Because… we’re so binary, of course,
in the way we think. We tend to think in opposites, in the Christian world
.
We’re structured like that
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Howard always says that’s the trouble.’

‘That’s a clever way to put it. (…)’

So it is Erzulie’s phrase
which
created this kind of
un-categorization and of the syncretism of the values
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>ruining the opposing lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> and differential functioning, of the language,
thus setting the entire novel under
the semiotic running of the concordia discors.
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>This process generates texts
abounding in contradictions of
which the reader has to be in charge by his own involvement, succeeding in
co-enuncing them in order to understand them, which endows
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>these contradictions
with a strong hermeneutic potential. That phenomenon is not deprived of pragmatic
effects on the working of the text because the reader is required to seize
it round the waist to make it work; by lack of that, the latter will be drowned
in a chaotic flow effect almost impossible to think. So we can say that in
Zadie Smith’s novel, the reader is constantly confronted with situations of
conflicts which do not end up in breaking off.

All
that
allows lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> us now to finally envisage
a stylistic process systematically used by Zadie Smith in her novel, of which
the least we can say is that it is an issue, as it seems to have been ignored
by the academic treatises: I mean the counterpoint. It is indeed
very difficult to find articles, and even less stylistics works dealing with
this matter, whereas it is very regularly and abundantly used—not to say heavily—in
the baroque literature and especially in Zadie Smith’s novel, of which we
can say that it is a contrapuntal novel above all else. Nevertheless, I managed
to find an interesting definition in the Dictionnaire des termes littéraires
by
Hendrik style='text-transform:uppercase'>van Gorp, Dirk Delabastita, Lieven D’hulst,
Rita Ghesquiere, Reiner G style='text-transform:uppercase'>rutman et Georges L style='text-transform:uppercase'>egros class=MsoFootnoteReference>[35] lang=EN-US style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>: lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

Counterpoint (lat., contra = in front of, opposite; punctum =
stitch)

i. Music
technique which consists in superimposing numerous “voices”, each one of them
is keeping its melodic autonomy, contributing nevertheless to form an harmonious
whole.

2.
In a more general meaning, the term designates a semantic process based on
the contrast or the conjunction of separate elements, particularly
two plots which are confused: confer Les
Faux-Monnayeurs
(1926) by
A. Gide, or style='mso-bidi-font-style:normal'>Point Counter Point (1928) by A. Huxley.

In fact, this stitch
allows the narrator to give his text a polyphonic dimension and to exploit
in the same way the conflicting potential of the semantic contradictions which,
in the concordia discors, managed to keep in touch thanks to a thematic
and unifying link, which establish a certain dialogism. To take up again a
counterpoint example that I have already partially commented, I want to return
a few moments to the opposition which reigns between Howard and his father,
Harold.
We
have seen
what their antagonisms were so I will not go back to it, but I want to underline here the importance of
the link which prevents these opposites from splitting off for good: to be
specific, it is a question of Joan’s death, Harold’s wife and Howard’s mother
(295,
emphasis
mine
):

style='color:black'>The moment his head connected with the velvet he felt like
he’d been sitting here with Harry these forty years, the both of them still
tied up in the terrible incommunicable grief of Joan’s death. (...) Two Englishmen
stranded together with nothing in common except a dead woman they had both
loved.

Thus,
the counterpoint brings together two antagonistic theses (arguments) around
a theme which continues, by lack of being worn out, but in a more illustrative than argumentative way
name="_ftnref36" title=""> style='color:black'>[36] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Zadie Smith’s
text is, from that viewpoint, saturated with counterpoints; let us be allowed
to only examine some of them.

A place often comes
back again in this carnivalesque novel, which is the city of Venice. Before
going there as a family with their children (81), Howard and Kiki had already
been there as lovers, at the occasion of a romantic escapade (425). Now, Claire
Malcolm announces to Kiki her wedding with Warren Crane, during a trip in
Italy (56): at “the birthday of St John the Baptist”, Claire proposed to Warren,
by telephone, to marry her, which he immediately accepted. Then she put on
her red Salomé dress she bought in Montreal: “I wanted to get married in my
Salomé dress and take a man’s head with me. And, goddamn it, I did. And it’s
such a sweet head,’ said Claire, pulling it gently towards her.” Whereas the
Belseys’ Venetian romanticism implies a sincere love match, the eccentric
production of the Cranes’ wedding in Italy causes the ruin of the authenticity
and the equity of this mutual agreement, by a sacrifice production. Claire’s
wedding, far from proposing a positive and genuine vision of marriage, presents
a sanguinary and counterfeited display.
Then, after Howard’s unfaithfulnesses, Claire and Kiki’s wedding are, in
fact, two terrible masquerades.

Another
example of counterpoint which this time focuses on, the two portraits of chiefs,
Jack French and Erskine Jegede (65-66).
style='color:black'>Jack French is “The dean of the Humanities”, whereas Erskine
Jegede is the “Director of the Black Studies (19)”. This very brief passage especially interests lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>me lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>. It comprises a description of Jack French, followed
by one of Erskine, after a short transition which is exactly revealing of
the concordia discors: “Compare and contrast with Erskine (65)”. In
fact, it is almost a question of a counterblazon of Jack French, followed
by the blazon of Erskine name="_ftnref37" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[37]. Both
are presented according to common themes: French’s Anglo-Saxons’ clothing
bad test (“in their New England slacks”) contrasts with the dandy Erskine’s
Cuban stylishness (“a three-piece suit of the yellowest of yellow” with “a
pair of pointed Cuban-heeled shoes”); the dean’s emaciated face “cut-glass
architecture” contrasting with the generous curves (“the curves of his bumptious
body”) of his colleague of the Black Studies. As far as their ages
are concerned, they remain uncertain, but it is perfectly sure that French’s
complexion is of “those fellows they dig out, after 900 years”, whereas Erskine
looks in the prime of life, such as “a bull doing his initial two-step dance
toward you”. At last, “his shining, hairless pate [Erskine’s]” whereas French
has “a thin yet complete covering of grey silk hair”. From a
class=strad11>psychological lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> point of view, “those
story-book freckles” of Erskine lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> make him pleasant and
appealing, whereas French’s appearance “gently perplexed” of “his sentimental
eyebrows” make him a less reassuring character, not to say frankly melancholic
… To conclude on a political stance, the reference to Wyndham Lewis lang=EN-GB style='color:black;font-style:normal'>would rather place Jack French
on the side of a political scepticism, whereas Erskine’s dancing bull and
Cuban-heeled shoes would at least make him a
style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
font-style:normal'>
determined democrat, not to say a revolutionary. Those are
two viewpoints of the world, radically different, which go together to listen
to the
Requiem
lang=EN-GB style='color:black;font-style:normal'>by Mozart.

 

style='color:black'>Arrived at this stage of our analysis, we can already conclude
that Zadie Smith’s On Beauty
surprisingly fits with all the typical stylistic practices of the baroque
aesthetic. Everything in its writing, refers to those practises: its fiction
and its narration are shaped with a very characteristic stylistics of genres,
which, besides taking up again the baroque themes established by the European
tradition, sets up carnivalesque reversal aspect of the world saturated by
the counterpoints of the concordia discors. Although this approach
is aesthetic, it is not devoid of effects concerning the meaning of the text, lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> which as a result, seems split up, contradictory
from all sides, not to say chaotic. Now, we are going to see that that impression
is only superficial, and that beyond a mere actantial stake, Haitian culture
does give its whole meaning and coherence to this novel.

style='color:black'> 

style='color:black'> 

style='color:black'> 

3)
The
VodúnVodún Rebuilding
of the Meaning: Mythological Reading

 

style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>One of the baroque writers’ favorite
games—not to say their delight—consists effectively in camouflaging in their work many networks
of latent meanings which will permit to make their text work as soon as the
centrifugal force exerted by the
style='color:black'> concordia
discors

will blast its semantic cohesion away.
style='color:black'>To this end, narrators style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>often style='color:black'> feign to tone down its significance, when it is not merely
and simply a matter for them to contest it, in order to deceive the reader
all the better. So it is with the Vodún beliefs which, in addition are missing
in the novel, when present, they are
very quickly played down.
Even if Victoria is ironical about the painting collection
owned by her father, openly making fun of their macabre aspects: “Great if
you like Baron
Samedi style='mso-footnote-id:ftn38' href="#_ftn38" name="_ftnref38" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[38] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, staring at you from every
corner of the house” (113). As for Carlene, she makes a fool of the superstitious
fright created by the Erzulie’s
painting over her maid: “Poor Clotilde won’t look at her, can’t even be in
the same room as her—did you notice? A superstition” (175,
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>emphasis mine lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>). However, we must not
trust these
comments
:
once these denial displays spotted, we have to notice that when Kiki discovers
that Claire Malcolm had been Howard’s mistress and that the situation is becoming
serious, the narrator hastens to mention: “She
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>[Kiki] stood like a zombie, her eyes quite dead to
any appeal from him, her smile nailed on” (121, emphasis mine). Far from being
a mere amusing folkloric
artefact lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, the Vodún mythology is
used in reality as a network of values to take refuge into style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, in spite of the appearance of simplicity
which could emerge from these beliefs style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. And style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>fter Carlene explained lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> Erzulie’s style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> symbolic style='color:black'> hyperpower to Kiki style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, that divinity is finally restricted
to the mere material presence of a very valuable beautiful picture, which
matters
for
the
proper progress of the fiction
thread. Let us read what Alfred MÉtraux style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> tells us about this divinity:

lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Ezili-fréda-Dahomey is usually compared to Aphrodite.
Both goddesses look like each other to the extent that a pretty mulatto from
the West Indies can make think of a Homeric divinity. Like Aphrodite, Ezili
belongs to the sea spirits’ group, but she freed herself from her roots to
become a personification of feminine grace and beauty. She has all the features
of the pretty young woman: she is coquette, sensual, a friend to luxury and
pleasure, spendthrift to the extent of extravagance.

In
the sanctuary, there is a room or a nook of a bedroom devoted to Ezili. Her
pink and blue dresses are kept there with her jewels, whilst area washbowl,
a towel, a bar of soap, a toothbrush, a comb, a lipstick and a nail-cleaner
are expecting her. As soon as Ezili possesses a supporter, man or woman, this
one is taken in this closet in order to be adorned. (…) She likes men too
much not to distrust women
her rivals. She treats them
with
haughtiness and greets them
by clinging her little finger to theirs. Ezili is a ‘lady of etiquette’ and
when she feigns to speak French, she purposely adopts a
class=strad21> style='mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
mso-hansi-font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>northern French accent
class=strad11>. When she goes back to her boudoir clung to
two lovers’ arms, men crowd a
style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>round to escort her. (…) class=strad21> style='mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt;font-family:"Comic Sans MS";mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'>
Ezili-fréda must
not be confused with the Great-Ezili, an elderly lady paralyzed with rheumatism,
who drags her knees and uses a stick href="#_ftn39" name="_ftnref39" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[39]
.

Now, it happens that
in the Vodún pantheon, Erzulie’s incarnations are numerous:

The main loas seem to
have increased for the sake of it by the addition to their name of nicknames
derived from African languages or from the Creole.
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>(…) Ezili-wèdo, Ezili-doba, etc. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>In most of the cases, this divinities proliferation
is, from a religious viewpoint, without any real significance style='mso-footnote-id:ftn40' href="#_ftn40" name="_ftnref40" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[40].

We
can therefore find many other avatar of
style='color:black'> Erzulie in the war figure of style='color:black'> Ezili Dantor, the patron of the lesbian, a gashed woman with fulfilled
figure, protecting her child with one hand and holding a knife in the other,
the Great-Ezili, an elderly lady paralyzed with rheumatism, who drags her
knees and uses a stick, the tall Ezili, Ezili jé-ruj (Erzulie ‘red eyed
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn41' href="#_ftn41" name="_ftnref41" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[41] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>’), the jealous lover,
Ezili Kaoulo, the angry amorous, Ezili Mapyang, the violent and harmful lover…
From that moment it is possible for us to find again these Erzulie’s figures
disseminated across the entire novel. Behind the character of Victoria, whose beauty is irresistible,
is hidden Ezili-fréda-Dahomey, all the more so because it is in a “boudoir
(…) [which] did not appear to be a Christian girl’s bedroom” (310) that Howard
and her make love. As for Ezili Dantor, we recognize in her the character
of Kiki: of stout build (“two hundred and fifty pounds”, 14), she made a threat
on Howard’s life (“Don’t you come near me.
style='color:black'>Don’t you come near me. style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>I’ll kill you if you do”, 123), tries
to protect her children: comforts Jerome (44), protects Zora from the ambient
“self-disgust” (197), is worried about Levi (401), for finally leaving Howard
to start a new relationship with a woman (436). Regarding the Great-Ezili,
we find it again behind the ill countenance, painful style='mso-footnote-id:ftn42' href="#_ftn42" name="_ftnref42" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[42] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> and weakened of Carlene.
Kiki is as well Ezili jé-ruj, Zora Ezili Kaoulo, the angry amorous during
her quarrel with Carl, after he slept with Victoria, class=strad21>during the student party (409). To
conclude, the refusal of Claire to accept Zora in her courses by supposed
reprisals against Howard, could really make of her an Ezili Mapyang
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn43' href="#_ftn43" name="_ftnref43" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[43] class=strad21>… We also find others indications
of the femininity in the novel, but which are linked this time to the picture
of the moon: “
She [Erzulie]
represents love, beauty, purity, the ideal female and the moon” (175) ... class=strad21> In London, Carlene wears around the
neck
“a substantial piece of art deco style='color:black'> jewellery with a multifaceted moonstone at its center” (40). During
the concert of the Requiem, Kiki meditates on her sadness and her pride
of the mother while “[t]he moon was massive overhead” (70). As for Jack French’s
secretary, Lydia, she compares Claire Malcolm with “a moonbeam” (149).

Nevertheless,
this feminine symbolic of the moon comes to contrast, in the Vodún imaginary,
with the sun, masculine in essence: “the moon. So much more lovely than the
sun and you can look at it without fear of harm” (71). style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>Not
long before, it is clarified that
“[t]he sky had misted over
slightly, allowing the sun to cast itself in a misleading godly role
(58, emphasis mine). However, the only one character whose virility is linked
in the novel to the sun is Carl, whose beauty fascinates literally Zora, while
she gets ready to get back the swimming goggles he borrowed her by mistake
(132, emphasis
mine
):

For a full ten seconds,
as if there were no material there at all, she was presented with the broad
line of it running along his thigh to the left, making three-dimensional
waves of his bumblebee stripes. Beneath this arresting sight, his balls pulled
at the fabric of his shorts, low and heavy and not quite lifted out from the
warm water. His tattoo was of the sun
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— style='color:black'>

the sun with a face.

Moreover,
it is not insignificant that this encounter between Zora and Carl takes place
at the swimming pool, most of the Vodún divinities being reputed staying under
the water: “A lot [of Loas] are living at the bottom of rivers or in the abysses
of the sea.
The hougan
and the mambo [the Vodún priest and priestess] who have great ‘knowledge’
are going to visit them in their water dwelling place style='mso-footnote-id:ftn44' href="#_ftn44" name="_ftnref44" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[44]

(…)” As for Kiki, her memory of Carl’s beauty is associated with the summer
concert of Mozart (200).

In
fact, we can conclude that Carl is an incarnation of the god Legba who is
the most hailed and respected of the

loas
.
“Master of the mystical gate which divides man from spirits, (…)
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> Legba is also “the master of the roads and the footpath”.
Under the name of ‘Crossroads Master’,
Legba
is the divinity of the roads crossing—places haunted by bad spirits and
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> favourable style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> to the magic arts style='mso-footnote-id:ftn45' href="#_ftn45" name="_ftnref45" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[45] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.” From that moment, we
also understand why Carl is so interested in the thematic of the crossroads
in his musical archivist work, at the library (375): “Five days ago, Carl
had elected the subject of crossroads. All mention of crossroads, imagery
on album cover of crossroads, and raps based on the idea of a crossroads in
someone’s life journey.” This Vodún thematic of the crossroads is developed
four page farther by Carl himself, with the notably presence of serpents:

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Carl leaned back in his own chair and casually
explained to her a little about the image of the crossroads and how frequently
rappers use it. Crossroads to represent personal decisions and choices, to
represent ‘going straight’, to represent the history of hip-hop itself, the
split between ‘conscious’ lyrics and
lang=EN-GB style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black'>‘gangsta
’. The more he spoke, the more animated and absorbed he became by his subject.

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘See, I was using it all the time myself—never
even thought about why. And then Elisha says to me: ’member that mural
in Roxbury, the one with the chair hanging from that arch?
And I’m like,
yeah, of course, man, ’cos I live right by there
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>—you know the one I’m talking about?’

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘Vaguely’, said Zora, but she had only been
to Roxbury once on a walking tour, during Black History Month back when she
was in high school.

‘So you got the crossroads painted there, right? And
the snakes and this guy—who obviously I now know is Robert Johnson—I lived
my whole life next door to this mural, never knew who the brother was ...
anyway: that’s Johnson in this picture, sitting at the crossroads waiting
to sell his soul to the devil. And that’s why (man, there’s a lot of
noise out of there). That’s why there’s a real chair hanging
from the archway in that alley.

My whole life I been wondering why someone hung a chair in that alley. It’s
supposed to be Johnson’s chair, right? Sitting at the crossroads. And
that’s totally filtered through hip-hop
style='font-size:10.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>—
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>and that, like, reveals to me the essence
of rap. YOU GOTTA PAY YOUR DUES.

That’s written on the top of that mural, right? Near the chair? And that’s
the first principle of rap music.

We
find back there, in Carl’s explanations, the meaning of the crossroads in
the Vodún mentality, guarded by Legba but suppressed by Levi: place where
the believer must choose between the “the straight
and narrow” or accept to “sell his soul to the devil”.
class=strad21>We now understand why it is not surprising
that this theme of the crossroads obsessed him so much, without that he “never
wondered why” (on two occasions).
lang=EN-US style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Furthermore, we can notice, in this
passage, a resurgence of the historical and
class=strad21> Dahomean class=strad21> mythological
roots of the Vodún, which is the archaic worship of the serpent god Damballah-wèdo
name="_ftnref46" title=""> style='color:black'>[46] class=strad21>.

Finally, to conclude this first style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>quick overview class=strad21>of the elements
of the Vodún pantheon, I would like to turn my attention to a moment on a
surprising evocation of the
lang=EN-GB style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro"'> relationships
lang=EN-US style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> which link Jerome, Zora and Levi.
At the ninth paragraph of the chapter “The anatomy lesson”, Jerome secretly
anticipates of one day his return home in order to celebrate Thanksgiving
with his
style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>
family
. Arrived in Boston, in spite of an execrable weather, he meets Zora who
came back from the least improbable purchase
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>(“on a whim”, in a shop “she had never
visited before”) of a volume of Irish poetry in a second-hand bookstore. It
was then that Levi who, at that moment, should have been in class joins both
of us. These unexpected reunion seems incredible to them (234, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>emphasis mine lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>): lang=EN-US style='font-family:"Dante MT Medium";color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'>

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>‘This is insane. I don’t even ever
come this way. I usually get the train!’

‘Man, that’s freaky. That’s just not right,’ said
Levi, whose mind naturally lent itself to conspiratorial and mystical phenomena.
They shook their heads and laughed, and to relieve the sense of freakiness
recounted their journeys to each other, taking care to assert common-sense
arguments like ‘Well, we’re often in Boston towards the end of the week’ and
‘this is nearest to the T-stop we usually use’, but nobody was especially
convinced by this and wonder continued.

It is then that Jerome calls his mother who reacts in turn by her
surprise, but also by offering a shred of understanding
style='color:black'>:

lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Well, I can’t believe that
lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>—
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>that’s crazy
lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. I guess there are more things in heaven
and earth, Horatio
right?’
This was Kiki’s sole literary quotation, and she used it for all uncanny incidents
and also those that were, in
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black'> truth
, only slightly uncanny. ‘It’s like what they say about twins. Vibrations.
You must feel each other’s presence somehow.’

‘But isn’t it insane?’

The
allusion to Shakespeare
name="_ftnref47" title=""> style='color:black'>[47] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> shows well how it is a
matter of supernatural in this meeting, which subsequently confirms Kiki’s lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> rationalisation style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>of an style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> hardly illogical hypothesis: Jerome,
Zora and Levi… would be twins! style='color:black'>We estimate well the incoherence of such words: three children
cannot be twins, but triplets. Thus we must distinguish, among these three
children, which ones could set up, on an imaginary side, pair of twins. lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>This question is not difficult
to come up with because in the novel, Levi does nothing like his brother nor his sister:
he is not a student, he works, he is ideologically tied up to a sort of a
Black Workers’ International that he names: ‘the street’: “The street, the
global street, lined with hustling brothers working corners from Roxbury to
Casablanca, from South Central to Cape Town” (245-246), whereas Jerome and
Zora only move about in the environment of the university middle class.
lang=EN-US style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'> So, Jerome and Zora would
be twins, on a repressed and imaginary side. Now, it exactly happens that
in the Vodún beliefs, twins are invested with a great power, so much so that
they are worshipped:

lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>The living or dead twins (marassa) are invested
of a supernatural power which makes of them exceptional beings. In the Vodún
pantheon, a special place is reserved for them beside the great ‘mysteries’.
Some claim that the marassa are more powerful than the loas. They are
invoked and hailed a the beginning of a ceremony, immediately after Legba;
in certain regions, particularly in Léogane, they have the precedence over
this divinity (…)

The
twins (marassa) dead or alive are deified and their spirits are all the more
dreadful since they are famed to be
—just like
the living
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>quick-tempered, violent and touchy. There is a
link between the marassa and the rain. (…) Saint Nicholas passes as
being their father, and Saint Claire their mother. (…)

The
child who, in the order of birth, follows immediately the twins
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>the dossou, if he is a boy, the dossa
if she is a girlcombines in his or her only
person the power of both and so possesses a more extensive power than theirs.
“The dossou is stronger than the marassa, stronger than the
loas
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn48' href="#_ftn48" name="_ftnref48" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[48] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.”

If
Jerome and
Zora lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> are marassas, Levi
is their lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>dossou style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, and their mother’s name would be
Claire. However disturbing the repeat of this feminine first name may seem,
we are going to show that far from being a mere conjecture, this imaginary
structure of the Belseys lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>’ lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> sibship style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> is really style='color:black'> realised in Zadie Smith’s
novel. If we observe carefully the outcome of the novel, we realize two things:
on the one hand, it is the disclosures of Carl to Jerome and Zora, during
the argument at the students’ party (409) which allow to penalize Howard’s
loose living and to bring to light Monty’s ideological hypocrisy, and in the
other hand, it is thanks to Levi’s complicity that Kiki will finally manage
to find Erzulie’s painting which the

Kippses

had tried to steal
from her—a painting she plans to sell afterwards in order to come to the assistance
of “the Haitian Support Group” (437). Therefore the children Belsey do resolve
all the intrigues of the novel, which is eloquent about their power! During
the noisy quarrel which opposes Jerome and Zora with Carl and Victoria, we
must not forget that Zora finally succeeds in understanding and admitting
what she has just heard—the Howard’s relationship with Victoria—by only noticing
the disastrous effects of Victoria’s treason on Jerome’s face in tears (419).
Even if Jerome does not seem to have an important part in this quarrel, yet
he and his sister, both of them get the better of Carl,
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> Legba’s style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> avatar class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[49] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. As far as Levi is concerned,
his action becomes brighter than Jerome and Zora’s ones. lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>Whereas Howard and
Monty’s pranks will receive a solution negotiated behind Wellington’s back,
Erzulie’s flagrant crime, the Kippses’ embezzlement attempt, which will lead
them straight in front of a judge, for a trial (436). style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

At this stage of my exposition on style='color:black'> the Vodún pantheon in Zadie Smith’s novel, two mysteries still remain: the Vodún roots of
Kiki and the reasons for style="mso-spacerun: yes"> the baroque aesthetic of the novel On Beauty.
We saw that Kiki was having the role of Erzulie in the novel, and that she
was also the marassas and a dossou’s mother. However, we must
acknowledge that in the feminine first name chain we have already taken down,
Kiki has no phonetic similarity with Carlene or Caroline or Claire, apart
from the initial sound [k]. However, we showed that in this baroque novel,
the characters’ identity could be dubious and that it could sometimes be proved
numerous. It is precisely the case with Kiki Simmons whose first name, finally,
serves as indicator for us. It
is in fact only with a transcultural reading that we managed to elucidate
those two questions, as nothing in the novel gives us a slightest hint or
at least a perspective.
Thus
we had finally to learn that in the Vodún pantheon, a mythological entity
called
Mrs style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Kikit exists, who belongs to the
Guédé family of which Baron Samedi is a part class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[50] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>We already explained that as a spirit of the death,
their appearance was producing a funeral and macabre terror. But their personalities
are also endowed with a side which, in the baroque perspective which concerns us, is quite
interesting:

The only appearance of
the Guédé is enough to provoke fright on account of the funeral visions they
evoke, also by their cynicism, their joviality and their sauciness, they temper
the fear and the indistinct anxiety they provoke. Their arrival is always
welcomed with delight by the audience. They are to be relied upon to introduce
during the most solemn ceremonies a touch of cheerfulness. Their only nasal
voice manages to create a comic effect, whereas it is an imitation of the
Grim Reaper’s speaking. Their language is also from time to time unexpected.
They twist the most common words or replace them by others whose connotations
are filthy. (…) They have a wide repertory of obscene songs they sing with
a silly look, their fingers raised whilst prolonging indefinitely some notes.
Their favourite dance is the banda which is characterised by violent
swaying walk and lascivious postures. In some houmfò [sanctuaries],
an enormous wooden phallus is erected upon the Guédé’s altar in case
the god would claim this attribute. The possessed
that style='color:black'> rig themselves of it out execute obscene dances or indulge
into lewd jokes.

This symbolical polyvalence
of the Guédé, both messengers of death and bearer of life
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>cannot do without
reminding us the carnival celebrations.
We can find this ambivalence again in the portrait of lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> Ezili Dantor, of which we said it was corresponding to the
character of Kiki. In his outstanding work, Alfred M
style='font-size:9.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black;text-transform:
uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Étraux style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> fairly and precisely mentions, a
ceremony he had requested in their
honour
:
“One day when, with
Lorgina’s lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> intervention, I offered
a great feast to the Guédé, those ones rushed up in crowd and danced joyfully
until dawn. Among the guests, someone brought Guédé-caca, Guédé-entre-toutes,
Pignatou-Guédé and lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Mrs Kikit href="#_ftn51" name="_ftnref51" title=""> lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[51] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> to my attention!”. Thus
it would be a Guédé and carnivalesque
goddess who, in Zadie Smith’s
novel, would give Kiki her name.

 

4) The
Vodún Reconstruction of the Meaning: Ritual Dynamics

style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black'> 

style='color:black'>These camouflaged cultural souvenirs of the Vodún pantheon
shown, I am now going direct my examination
to the Vodún dynamic of this novel, more strictly speaking. Zadie S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith
did not indeed content herself with
impregnating her characters with Haitian mythology: apparently she also tried
to endow her text with ritual inflexions taken from Vodún practices. lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Of course, this Vodún lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> ritualisation style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> of the text is not strictly speaking
explicit, but if we compare some characters’ peculiar lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> behaviour style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>—and more precisely Howard’s, not
to name him—with Alfred MÉtraux’s description, we exactly realize in fact the religious
impact and to mention it the
initiation impact of the novel. That
is where this text is deeply original, since it tries nevertheless to make
Howard’s occidental loose living constructive by transposing it on the Vodún
liturgy point of view. The first point we are going to examine is possession.
It is a quite common phenomenon of the Vodún practice because it is the only
way for this religion to exist: “[the] relationships between the invisible
and the human are easy and constant at the same time.
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>The style='color:black'> loas lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> communicate with their
believers, either by revealing to them into a dream or as a human style='mso-footnote-id:ftn52' href="#_ftn52" name="_ftnref52" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[52] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.” lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>So much that “the possessions somewhat replace
as it were the statuary and the imagery which are nearly missing to the Vodún.
It is said in Haiti that loas are best known by watching the possessed
ones class=MsoFootnoteReference>[53].”
These divine appearances take mainly place during the collective ceremonies
which have been organised since the slave trade, hidden from profane sight.
Without going into details—which would be too long and tedious—, we will paint
a panorama which will be useful later as a reading grid. lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Like Alfred M lang=EN-US style='font-size:9.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, we will first deal with
the “phenomenon of the possession or of the trance whose role is fundamental
in the Vodún name="_ftnref54" title=""> style='color:black'>[54] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.”

In its initial phase,
the trance shows itself with symptoms of a clearly psychopathological nature.
It reproduces in its broad outlines the clinical picture of the hysterical
fit. The possessed first give the impression that they have lost the control
of their motor system
. (…) Sometimes these fits break out
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> suddenly, some other times
they approach with harbinger signs: distracted or anxious expression, slight
shaking, gasping for breath, bead of sweat on their foreheads. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Their faces take a nervous or sorrowful expression title="">[55]. lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

Now,
Howard feels in a similar state during
Carlene’s funerals under the effect not of sadness, but of the music and the fear
of death
title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[56] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> (286-288). Then Howard
flees from the funerals to go to his father’s, a visit which is not only a
failure, but throws himself into the memory of his mother Joan’s death, deceased
forty-six years earlier (294). At that very moment, Howard goes to the Windmill
Pub where he drinks a bottle of Cabernet and a pint of beer (305). Besides
the narrator hastens to comment on: “It takes a lot of practice to ensure
that a whole bottle of Cabernet and a pint of beer makes only a slight dent
in your sobriety, but Howard felt he had reached this stage of accomplishment
(305, emphasis mine). Beforehand, during the celebration of their thirty years
wedding anniversary, Howard had already drunk a lot (107). lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>Therefore, lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> he arrived rather tipsy
at the Kippses lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>’ where he seizes a glass
of red wine again (307). Of course, it is quite possible to understand, in
psychological terms, what must be really called Howard’s alcoholism: Claire’s
neurotic example, of her “miserable childhood deprived of love” (224) composes
moreover a pertinent counterpoint of it. But, to come back to our Vodún rites,
the lang=EN-US style='mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-hansi-font-family:
"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>result is nonetheless interesting
to notice since they involve a drunkenness phase
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn57' href="#_ftn57" name="_ftnref57" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[57] class=strad21>:

The state of possession
lasts more or less during a long time, often only a few seconds when the subject
is “made drunk”, that is to say slightly dizzy. (…) The ones that the possessed
who make turn round by courtesy, just like the one who brings the hounsi
their necklaces, generally are overcome by this slight drunkenness: they have
been lightly touched by the loas whom they have approached
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn58' href="#_ftn58" name="_ftnref58" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[58] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>.

Finally, it is in this advanced lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> drunkenness style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> that Howard will be lead to make
love with Victoria, “already turned over on to her stomach, her head pressed
against the bed as if an invisible hand were style='color:black'> restraining her with a plan to suffocation” (316, lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>emphasis mine lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>). lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>What kind of a hand is the one which holds Victoria
back? And why does the narrator feel bound to clarify that she is “invisible?”
We clearly see that in fact, in this surprising description an allusion to
the supposition that Victoria would be handled by a supernatural intervention.
That is the way Vodún trance and possession are when “the relation that exists
between the loa and the human whom he grabbed hold on is compared to
the one who links a rider to his mount. That is why it is said of the first
one that he “rides” or “saddles” his

lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>chouval style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> (horse) class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[59] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>”. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Is Howard not standing astride Victoria, at that
moment? However
whether Howard incarnate a
Guédé lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> or that lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> Erzulie style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> pretends to show up in the person
of Victoria or Howard, this scene of trance is made obsolete—and in fact,
deceptive—, by Victoria’s sexual over expressiveness, as well as Howard’s
mediocre sexual capacities name="_ftnref60" title=""> style='color:black'>[60] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>.

Finally
another element—very
miniscule—allows us as
well to guess another Vodún dynamic at work in the novel: it is about an initiation
process which is called réclusion (imprisonment) by the Vodún rituals.
Explaining it in details would be useless, anyway Zadie S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith
does not take it up again as it is.
Nevertheless, it is a rather long and complex initiation process since it
lasts one week, during which the applicants to the priesthood, the houngnò,
follow a set of ceremonies and liturgical procedures in order to be consecrated
hougan or mambo. The principle of the réclusion is simple:
each houngnò has to choose the loa he wants to honour and to
prepare himself to get in a special touch with it, by the way of the possession.
“What
happens, all doors closed, in the bedroom of
style='color:black'> réclusion lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> (djévo) is a secret
that no initiate is allowed to disclose class=MsoFootnoteReference> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[61] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>(…) during the seven days of their reclusion,
they [the novices] cannot move, laugh or speak without permission style='mso-footnote-id:ftn62' href="#_ftn62" name="_ftnref62" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[62].”
When this initiation ceremony is finished, “the initiates are in a state of
weakness which exposes them to dangers of a supernatural order. lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>They protect themselves
against them by respecting the interdicts and by submitting to a quiet and
pure existence: they do not work, they do not leave their dwelling places,
they keep off the sun and the evening dew, abstain from pork, “cold” food
and frozen drinks title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[63] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>”. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>If we had to sum up that ceremony, we could say
that that is a moment of an extreme fragility when a spiritual metamorphosis,
almost identical to the one which allows a caterpillar to become a butterfly,
takes place. That is why this ceremony takes in a closed place, in order to
protect the novices of any possible threat, hence the idea of imprisonment.
Reproducing in a novel such a process would be both too artificial and really
too tedious—Howard is not a Vodún monk! —, but it is already surprising to
find under Zadie Smith’s writing
expressions relating to imprisonment and to prison environment, especially
when it is about the University where culture and degrees are expected to
improve the human, to open their minds and the new possible professional perspectives.
Let us read what Levi thinks (407, emphasis mine style='color:black'>):

He felt the despondency universities had long inspired in him. He had grown
up in them; he had known the book stacks and storage cupboard and quad and
spires and science blocks and tennis courts and plaque and statues. He
felt sorry for the people who found themselves trapped in such arid surroundings.

Even as a small child he was absolutely clear that he would never, ever
enrol lang=EN-US style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> at one himself. In universities, people
forgot how to live. Even in the middle of a music library, they had forgotten
what music was.

Now,
Howard put a lot into his academic career, to such a point that , in return
he expects a vital protection and emotional safety (438,
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>emphasis mine lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>):

Ten
years in one place, without tenure, was a long time. His children were grown.
They would soon leave. And the house, if it were to stay as it was,
without Kiki, would be intolerable. It was in a university that he
must now put all his remaining hope. Universities had been a home for him
for over thirty years.
He only needed one more: the final, generous institution
to take him in his dotage and respect him.

An unbearable family,
a shelter, and a jail: such is the paradoxical representation of the university
that the novel develops.
We can especially notice it when Victoria tries to revive Howard’s desire
after his bitter failure at the faculty meeting (334, emphasis mine): “in
the
grotty lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> stairwell, the natural
light came in through two grated windows
in a manner both penal and
atmospheric, reminding Howard,
incongruously
,
of Venice.” This evocation of Venice recalls the debate we already mentioned
earlier about love and the wedding: it finds here a conclusion that would
be clarified just before the outcome, at the time of the spring-cleaning carried
out by
Kiki style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> (424, emphasis mine): “[t]he greatest
lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.” We also find an
expression more complete of this family and academic confinement at the beginning
of the novel, when Levi comes back from his work to intend his parents’ wedding
anniversary (79, emphasis mine style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>):

He looked out with dread at Wellington as it began to manifest itself outside
the grimy windows. The pristine white spires of the college seemed to him
like the watchtowers of a prison to which he was returning. He sloped
toward home, walking up the final hill, listening to his music. The
fate of the young man in his headphones, who faced a jail cell that very
night
, did not seem such a world away from his own predicament: an anniversary
full of academics.

Kiki also experiences this prison dimension of the family and of the university
is also experimented by
Kiki
on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year holidays, when she hopes she
will meet Carlene (264,
emphasis mine):

Many
dull parties followed: for the Art History
style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black'> Department
, drinks at the President’s house, and at Vice-President’s (...) This,
after all, was the month in witch families began tightening and closing and
sealing; from thanksgiving to the New Year, everybody’s world contact, day
by day, into the microcosmic single festive household, each with its
own ritual and obsessions, rules and dreams
. You didn’t feel you could
call people. They didn’t feel they could phone you. How does one cry for help
from these seasonal prisons?

Regarding
the notion of microcosm, we notice it implies that, in a second time, a projection
of the “
ritual and obsessions, rules and dreams
of the university and of the family, in brief, of jail, is possible over the
whole universe, the macrocosm, to become an actual cosmogony.

 

From
then, we can rediscover pretty religious examples of imprisonment in the whole
novel. Just before meeting Carl again at the swimming pool—let us mention
it again, Carl is the incarnation of the god
style='color:black'> Legba—here is how the narrator describes us the pool, from
Zora’s viewpoint (130,
emphasis mine): “Up beyond the stadium seating, at the very top of
this giant room, a glass wall let the autumn sun in and shot it across the
room, like the searchlights in a prison yard.”
style='color:black'>In this comparison, the narrator assimilates the swimming
pool to a prison. At last, during Howard’s inaugural lesson, the students flock in such quantity
that the room is packed; there are also “students lined up against the wall
like prisoners waiting to be shot” (141,
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>emphasis mine lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>).

However,
this imprisonment especially concerns Howard. Anyway, Zadie S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith
style='color:black'> emphasises him, at the end of her novel, by notably explaining
how he reached such a level of weakness, after such a real-life experience
of confinement. In fact, it dates back to his mother’s death, when he was
ten years old (295, emphasis mine): “he felt like he’d been sitting here with
Harry these forty years, the both of them still tied up in the terrible
incommunicable grief of Joan’s death.” We already know that Howard hates his
father, but we also learn that what he abhors above all is the British middle-class’s
way of life (308, emphasis mine): “He had run from a potentially bourgeois
English life straight into the arms of an actual American one—he saw that
now—and, in the
disappointment lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> of the attempted escape,
he had made other people’s live miserable.” So Howard has been retreated in
the distress of his mother’s death for all that time, and the grief of this
confinement carries on href="#_ftn64" name="_ftnref64" title=""> lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[64] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>. It is what we also notice
on the occasion of the course he gives on Rembrandt’s painting, “Dr Nicolaes
Tulp Demonstrating the Anatomy of the Arm, 1632
” (144, emphasis mine):
“But today Howard felt himself caught in the painting’s orbit.
He could see himself laid out on the that very table, his skin white and finished
with the world, his arm cut open for students to examine.”

We
can conclude from this analyze that Howard will have to wait for a meeting
with the supreme woman-mother,

Erzulie
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> (as the figure of Victoria),
to split from the confinement of his bereavement. Of course, the way Zadie
S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith drew a metaphor of these two rituals
of possession and imprisonment in her novel—like a real mambo priestess—puts
any religious proselytism
to an end, since the more operational they are in the novel, their
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> univocity style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> and their efficiency are not a matter
of fact, as much by the deceptive side of the possession as its lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> parodical style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> dimension. Moreover, Alfred M lang=EN-US style='font-size:9.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Étraux style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> tells us that

At first sight, the richness
of the ritual and the respect of the tradition “Africa-Guinea” which the priests
claims to agree with would lead us to think that the Vodún is soiled with
rigid formalism. In fact, there is nothing of the sort. A very wide margin
is saved to the officiant’s imagination and he can always possibly introduce
surprising and new details in the ceremonies he arranges, so long as he respects
the general outlines. Each sanctuary has its own style which often reflects
the personality of the hougan or the mambo who conducts it.
According to the place where it takes place, the same ceremony will offer
numerous variants. When we describe a Vodún ceremony, we must always take
of this personal factor in account, in order not to give a detail a too general
importance and significance it may not have href="#_ftn65" name="_ftnref65" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[65]
.

style='color:black'> 

style='color:black'> 

style='color:black'> 

Conclusion:
the Transculturation, the Baroque Symbolic Renaissance

 

Up
to now, I succeeded in assessing how Zadie Smith’s
novel, far from limiting itself to a mere postmodern evocation of contingent
and matrimonial anarchical and contradictory events, is not only a matter
of a poetics of the baroque genre, derived from the European tradition, but
is underlain as well by a
carnivalesque
dynamic of inversion straight drawn from the Vodún religion. More precisely,
it is
Erzulie’s lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> tutelary feature which
is the cause of this baroque aesthetic: whether it is by the systematic syncretism
of the concordia discors it imposes, or as well by its lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> carnivalesque style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> reversal.

On
that occasion, we saw that this novel was drawing its plots from major issues
which the characters are confronted to, from the American intellectual circles,
and to which they could not manage to find an answer: is affirmative action
necessary or should it be blamed, is marriage a reliable commitment, what
is the place for desire and sexuality in society—particularly as far as homosexuality
is concerned—, is it legitimate to exploit financially our fellow creatures’
work?
To what extent can theory
support real-life experience or, on the contrary, suffocate it… Finally, all
these questions are crystallised
in Carl’s mouth, on the
lang=EN-GB style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> class=strad21>occasion of his quarrel with Zora
and Jerome, during this famous students’ party (418):
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>

But that’s a joke around here, man. People like me are just toys
to people like you… I’m just some experiment for you to play with. You people
aren’t even black any more, man—I don’t know what you are. You think you’re
too good for your own people. You got your college degrees, but you don’t
even live right. You people are all the same’, said Carl, looking down, addressing
his words to his own shoes. ‘I need to be with my people, man—

I can’t do this no more.’ (...) ‘You so sure of yourself, you so superior’,
she heard him splutter as he rang the doorbell. ‘All you people. I don’t know
why I even got myself caught up with any of you, it can’t come to no good
anyway.”

In
fact, all these assertions support an issue, which is to know how we ought
to behave if we really want to live like human beings. So it is a serious
crisis of the American values—and more generally Occidental—which this novel
invites us to, crisis to which it tries precisely to find an answer by the
means of a popular culture: the Haitian culture. We hope we managed to show
sufficiently how the Vodún mythology succeeded in giving meaning and cohesion
back, where division and insoluble contradictions only appeared to the Westerners’
eyes. From this standpoint, Zadie Smith’s
approach is quite special—and to be honest, rather sophisticated—which makes
us attend a real dream of transculturation, a phenomenon fully examined by
Fernando
Ortiz in his anthropological work, Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar:

Entendemos
que el vocablo transculturación expresa mejor las diferentes fases del proceso
transitivo de una cultura a otra, porque éste no consiste solamente en adquirir
una distinta cultura, que es lo que en rigor indica la voz angloamericana
acculturation, sino que el proceso implica también necesariamente la pérdida
o desarraigo de una cultura precedente, lo que pudiera decirse una parcial
desculturación, y, además, significa la consiguiente creación de nuevos fenómenos
culturales que pudieran denominarse de neoculturación. Al fin, como bien sostiene
la escuela de Malinowski, en todo abrazo de culturas sucede lo que en la cópula
genética de los individuos: la criatura siempre tiene algo de ambos progenitores,
pero también siempre es distinta de cada uno de los dos
style='mso-footnote-id:ftn66' href="#_ftn66" name="_ftnref66" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[66] style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>.

In
his introduction to the Counterpoint, Bronislav Malinowski is even more explicit:

style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>[L]o esencial del proceso que se quiere significar
no es una pasiva adaptación a un standard de cultura fijo y definido. Sin
duda, una oleada cualquiera de inmigrantes de Europa en América experimenta
cambios en su cultura originaria; pero también provoca un cambio en la matriz
de la cultura receptiva. (…) Todo cambio de cultura, o como diremos desde
ahora en lo adelante, toda transculturaciÓn,
es un proceso en el cual siempre se da algo a cambio de lo que se recibe;
es un « toma y daca », como dicen los castellanos. Es un proceso
en el cual emerge una nueva realidad, compuesta y compleja; una realidad que
nos es una aglomeración mecánica de caracteres, ni siquiera un mosaico, sino
un fenomeno nuevo, original e independente
href="#_ftn67" name="_ftnref67" title=""> style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[67] style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>.

style='color:black'>It is actually thanks to the intervention of the whole Vodún
pantheon that Howard will set himself back on his foot in his American reality
again, by the apparent failure of his academic career, at the occasion of
his sabbatical year which allows him in practice to reach his rebirth among
his kin. Kiki
being away, he is the one who takes care of his children and his house—in
lang=EN-US style='font-family:"Comic Sans MS";color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'> a
quite motherly introjection—which allows him to finally adapt to reality:
at the end of the novel, he sweats, uses a cell phone and eventually drives
his car. This rebirth also allows him to restore their intrinsic meaning to
the works of art, but above all their emotional power—with the final Rembrandt’s
painting, ‘Hendrickje Bathing, 1654’—, and thus to
lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> accede again

—amorously, it goes without saying—to Kiki’s fondness.
style='color:black'>It is the transculturation of the Haitian popular values that
allows Howard to become at last humane. style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>It is also evoked by Claire Malcolm—in
a sibylline way name="_ftnref68" title=""> style='color:black'>[68] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>—in a nevertheless significant
moment: when she has an argument with Howard, during his wedding anniversary
(120), before Kiki catches her in the act “one of her fingers thoughtlessly,
drunkenly, slip under a gap in his shirt to his skin [of Howard]”, which will
cause an open crisis in their couple. lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>For us, this transculturation of the Haitian mythology
is done by the characters of the younger generation like Zora and Levi. It
is also symbolised by the character of Tchou, who survives by hawking imitations
in the streets. Aware of the cultural and financial value of the painting
of Erzulie, he organises its theft from Monty Kipps’s office with Levi’s complicity.
The Kipps’s attempt of despoiling being thus thwarted, then Kiki plans, in
agreement with Erzulie’s values of “perpetual help, goodwill, (…) and fortune”
(175) to sell this painting and to give the money of its sale to the “Haitian
Support Group”. Now, the conditions in which Levi nicknames his Haitian friend ‘Tchou’
seems to us the least unconfirmed: it is true that this poor and puny Haitian
is attached the first name ‘Chouchou’ (243), but it is all the more disquieting
that the author of this symbolical restoring of the painting of Erzulie should
be a French teacher whose nickname corresponds to the name of an old Paris
publisher, well known and specialised in art books and psychoanalytical works
publishing (Les éditions Tchou).
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Thus style='color:black'> Tchou plays the role of a symbolic bridge—almost like a class=strad21>suture stitch, in the Lacanian sense
of the term
between aesthetic
and imaginary values on the one hand, and its moral and financial values on
the other hand; even more: he
class=strad21> dishoards class=strad21> them … lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

Finally,
through her
carnivalesque lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> aesthetic, Zadie S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith does not indulge to any religious
proselytism, but broaches the Vodún forms of worship in terms of a popular
mythology, as Moses I. F style='text-transform:uppercase'>inley style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> did with the Greek pantheon in his
study The World style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> of
Odysseus
. From an almost anthropological viewpoint, such an attitude is
really outstanding for its fecundity: the Vodún is not shown as a religion
to revere, but as an available set of values and moral references likely to
revive the human being in his dignity and to make his society more fitter
to live in and fairer-minded. Thanks to Erzulie, the fundamental values of the human
dignity are in fact reintroduced: the right to the “
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>discord [on the one hand],
and, on the other hand, [to] love, perpetual help, goodwill, health,
beauty and fortune” (175). As many values that the Haitian
people managed to keep up throughout its history in spite of the numerous
trials it is constantly facing, and that Claire Malcolm managed as well to
detect in the nature and the popular roots of her discretionary student
lang=EN-GB style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black'> Chantelle lang=EN-US style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'>. It is all the more noteworthy that originally, the religion of the Haitian
Vodún be a popular traditionin fact a creation lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>— lang=EN-US style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'>which is characterized by a humanizing style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black'> anthropomorphism lang=EN-US style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:
EN-US'>:

lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Mythology, in the narrow sense of the term, has
been lowered to the level of do-it-yourself, of village gossips; it concerns
less in the spirits’ personal life than their relationships with their believers.
It is a practical and utilitarian religion which cares more about the matters
of the ground than the Heavens’ ones. (…) In other words, Vodún mythology
is constantly enriched by the stories of divine interventions in the human
matters, interventions that, in fact, are ‘acted’ by temporary actors. (…)

lang=EN-GB style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black'>The difference is minimal between the supernatural society of the
loas and the Haitian peasantry, which imagined it. The spirits are
distinguished from the human beings only by their extensive ‘knowledge’ or,
what comes to the same thing, by their power. All are characters of the soil
that share the tastes, the habits and the passions with their believers. They
are like those ones, food lovers, crafty, bawdy, touchy, jealous and prone
lang=EN-GB style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Comic Sans MS";
color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>
to violent fits of rage quick dissipated;
they love or hate each other, see each other quite a lot or avoid one another
as style='mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
mso-hansi-font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>the people living in a hamlet
would
do style='mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
mso-hansi-font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>.
class=strad21> class=strad21> style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>When
they revealed themselves by the means of possession, their behaviour in public
is not always what would be expected from supernatural beings. They happen
to speak coarsely, to swear, to drink excessively, to quarrel with other
class=strad21> style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>loas class=strad21> style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>,
to beg, or to play schoolboys tricks
class=MsoFootnoteReference> lang=EN-GB style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium";
color:black'>[69]
class=strad21> style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Dante MT Medium"'>. style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>

Therefore
On Beauty is a novel in which we can
style='font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black'>observe lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> the surpassing of the
impasses of an Occidental and lost mentality, by means of a popular wisdom,
self-evident and discreet: the one of the Haitian people.



style='font-family:"Dante MT Medium";color:black;text-transform:uppercase;
letter-spacing:3.0pt'>Bibliography

 

style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";color:black'> 

style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";color:black'> 

style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";color:black'> 

style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";color:black'> 

style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";color:black'> 

style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";color:black'>Novels:

lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Smith,
Zadie, On Beauty, London, Penguin, 2006.

style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>Depestre,
René, Hadriana dans tout mes rêves, Paris, Gallimard, 1988. style='text-transform:uppercase'>

 

Critical works:

Bakhtine, Mikhaïl, L’œuvre de François Rabelais et la culture
populaire au Moyen Âge et sous la Renaissance
, Paris, Gallimard, coll.
« Tel », 1982, rééd. 2003.

Curtius, Ernst Robert, La littérature européenne et le Moyen
Âge Latin
, Paris, PUF, 1956; rééd.
style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Presses Pocket, coll. style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>“Agora”, 1991.

Gibert,
Bertrand, Le baroque
littéraire français
, Paris, Armand Colin, coll. “ Collection U ”,
1997.

Le
Bourg-Oul
É style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>, Anne-Marie, Roi d’un jour, Paris,
Albin Michel, coll. « Bibliothèque Histoire », 1996. style='text-transform:uppercase'>

MoliniÉ style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>, Georges, Du roman grec au roman
baroque – Un art majeur du genre narratif en France sous Louis XIII
, Toulouse,
Centre de Publications de l’Université de Toulouse-Le-Mirail, 1982. style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>

style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:FR'>Ors ( style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>d’), Eugène, Du Baroque, Paris,
Gallimard, 1935; rééd. 2000.

Rousset style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:FR'>, Jean, La littérature de l’âge baroque
en France, Circé et le paon
, Paris, Corti, 1953.

Soulier, Didier, La littérature baroque en Europe, Paris,
P.U.F., 1988.

 

style='color:black'>Ethnogaphical works:

M style='font-size:9.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black;text-transform:
uppercase'>Étraux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, Alfred, Le vaudou haïtien, Paris, Gallimard,
coll. « Tel », 1977, rééd. 2007.

lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>Ortiz,
Fernando, Contrapunteo cubano del tabaco y el azúcar, Madrid, Ediciones
Cátedra, 2002.



name="_ftn1" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[1] lang=EN-GB> Atibon Lgegba, open me the gate, agoe!

Father-Legba
open me the gate

So that
I can come inside

When I
go back, I will hail the loas

Vodún
Legba, open me the gate

So that
I enter;

When I
go back, I will hail the loas, Abobo (M
É lang=EN-GB style='text-transform:uppercase'>traux, 2007,
p. 88, we translate).

name="_ftn2" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[2] lang=EN-GB> Molini lang=EN-GB style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;text-transform:
uppercase'>É, 1982, p. 20-21.

name="_ftn3" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[3] lang=EN-GB> Ors (d’), Eugène,
Du Baroque, Paris, Gallimard, 1935; rééd. 2000.

name="_ftn4" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[4] style='mso-ansi-language:FR'> Gibert,
Bertrand, Le baroque littéraire français, Paris, Armand Colin,
1997, coll. “ Collection U ”.

name="_ftn5" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[5] style='mso-ansi-language:FR'> Wölfflin,
Heinrich, Principes fondamentaux de l’histoire de l’art, Paris, Plon,
1952; rééd. Gérard Montfort, 1986.

— Renaissance
et baroque
, Paris, Le livre de poche, 1967, rééd. Gérard Montfort, 1988.

name="_ftn6" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[6] style='mso-ansi-language:FR'> Rousset,
Jean, La littérature de l’âge baroque en France, Circé et le paon,
Paris, Corti, 1953.

name="_ftn7" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[7] style='mso-ansi-language:FR'> Curtius,
Ernst Robert, La littérature européenne et le Moyen Âge Latin, Paris,
PUF, 1956; rééd. Presses
Pocket, coll.
“Agora”, 1991.

href="#_ftnref8" name="_ftn8" title=""> lang=EN-US style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro"'>[8] style='font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-ansi-language:FR'> On that subject,
see Anne-Marie Le Bourg-Oul style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:FR'>É, Roi d’un jour, Paris, Albin
Michel, coll. « Bibliothèque Histoire », 1996, p. 87-111.

name="_ftn9" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[9] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> It can be recognized particularly
in the twelfth century, in the courtly poetry that falls within the province
of obscure inspiration of the trobar clus, of which the troubadour
Marcabru was a master. Pierre B style='text-transform:uppercase'>ec, in his Anthologie des troubadours
(Paris, U.G.E 10/18, coll. « Bibliothèque médiévale », 1979, rééd.
lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>1994), specifies on the matter that
“its production is difficult because it is based a lot on a popularizing
heritage
which is beyond our knowledge, into a wide proportion” (p. 88,
emphasis mine).

name="_ftn10" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[10] style='mso-ansi-language:FR'> Bakhtine,
Mikhaïl, L’œuvre de François Rabelais et la culture populaire au Moyen
Âge et sous la Renaissance
, Paris, Gallimard, coll. « Tel »,
1982, rééd. 2003.

name="_ftn11" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[11] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Gibert, 1997, p. 207, emphasis mine: “Its success (the
satire’s), is linked to the taste, typical of the baroque mentality of
the reversal”.
The only weakness of the work by Bertrand Gibert—excellent
in other respects—is that he only evokes on an ad hoc basis this reversal
dynamic, while he does not clearly establish his popular sources, and that
much before the religious wars (cf. 3. The Crucible of Conditions,
p. 67-68). If he specifies that the Classical Age worked for the “repression
of all the forms of disorder”, he noted a little further (p. 76) that
“the court entertainment (…) is originally a gentry’s pleasure: it presents
the court’s events as he searches for the equivalents of the Farce and
of the Carnival”
(emphasis mine).

name="_ftn12" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[12] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> We find there again Levi’s emphasis
on the means of subsistence of the Haitian refugees who live in Boston and
Wellington.

name="_ftn13" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[13] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Let us notice, by the way, the
tumultuous opening of the novel, by a revival of the epistolary genre, with
the three electronic mails sent by Jerome to his father, announcing him
his adventurous affair with Victoria.

name="_ftn14" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[14] style='mso-ansi-language:FR'> Soulier,
Didier, La littérature baroque en Europe, Paris, P.U.F., 1988, p. 248,
we translate and underline.

name="_ftn15" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[15] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Smith, Zadie, On Beauty, London, Penguin, 2006.

name="_ftn16" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[16] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> “This medieval turn to the conversation
was too much for Howard (38)”, from which a situation comedy ...

name="_ftn17" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[17] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Emphasis mine. Note that in this
dialogue, narrative commentaries have the role of real stage directions.

name="_ftn18" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[18] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> When Claire tries to prompt the
slammer Carl to a reflexion on his own poetic practice, she cannot help
thrusting at him, in a quite abrupt way, a general survey of versification,
explaining to him that “was made. Iambs, spondees, trochees, anapaests (259).”

style='mso-footnote-id:ftn19' href="#_ftnref19" name="_ftn19" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[19] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>  style='font-size:10.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>“A
lot of time she felt the professor to be speaking a different language
from the one she has spent sixteen years refining. After the third class
she went back to her dorm and cried. She cursed her stupidity and her youth
(250, emphasis mine).” For an illustration in a context of the obscurity
of the criticism language, we shall report to the lesson that Howard teaches
on the drawing Seated Nude (251-253).

name="_ftn20" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[20] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> “But nothing in French’s armoury
of baroque sentences seemed sufficient for dealing with a girl who used
language like an automatic weapon (146).”

name="_ftn21" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[21] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> To such an extent that the description
of the quarrel scene at the Kipps’, in London, the narrator is more specific
in the original text: “Then the tableau came to life” (39,
emphasis mine).

name="_ftn22" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[22] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Emphasis mine.

name="_ftn23" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[23] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Ors (d’), 2000, p. 93, we translate: « the absolute
baroque painter is Rembrandt: baroque because he proceeds from Luther, because
exalts individual life; because he’s sustained by a sense of responsibility,
an ethical sense; since he introduces inner life into religion, finally
because amidst all the artists from the North, he is certainly the one who
to owes the least to classical Italy …” What draws Eugène d’Ors’ attention
above all, is “the atmospheric tenderness” of Rembrandt’s paintings
(p. 94).

name="_ftn24" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[24] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Ors (d’), 2000, p. 65, we translate and underline.

name="_ftn25" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[25] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Gibert, 1997, p. 34, we translate.

name="_ftn26" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[26] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> MoliniÉ lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, style='mso-bidi-font-size:14.5pt;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>1982, lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>p. 137, we translate and underline.

name="_ftn27" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[27] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Le Bourg-OulÉ lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 1996, p. 88, we translate.

name="_ftn28" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[28] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Bakhtine, 2003, p. 18-19, we translate and underline. It
is particularly interesting to notice that the carnivalesque reversal is
the only symbolical mode which allows to project utopia into Reality. By
this way, it is the only solution for the characters of Zadie Smith’s novel to succeed in reconciling and mending thought with
reality.

name="_ftn29" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[29] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Bakhtine, 2003, p. 44, we translate and underline.

name="_ftn30" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[30] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Bakhtine, 2003, p. 19-21. Therefore it is important to keep
in mind that what the baroque carnivalesque reversal pursues is to implement
a call into question of the world and its values in order to give rise to
other ones. The parody it carries out does not only aim a playful purposes,
and its objective is not the least the elaboration of a conceptual and ethereal
universe.

name="_ftn31" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[31] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Since the beginning of this passage,
the narrator has very clearly announced, in internal focalization: “ style='color:black'>He was feeling absolutely nothing. Not even guilt, not even
lust (379).” Then the latter will slip away at the last minute exclaiming:
“I’m sorry I can’t do this (382)!”

name="_ftn32" title=""> style='mso-special-character:footnote'>[32] lang=EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> It is in any case what Carlene
explains, page 96: “Men move with their mind, and women must move with their
bodies, whether we like it or not. That’s God intended it—That is what I
have always believed so strongly.”

name="_ftn33" title=""> style='color:black'>[33] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>  style='text-transform:uppercase'>Gibert, 1997, p. 64, we translate.

name="_ftn34" title=""> style='color:black'>[34] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>  style='text-transform:uppercase'>Gibert, 1997, p. 110-111, we translate
and underline.

name="_ftn35" title=""> style='color:black'>[35] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> Paris, 2001, Honoré Champion, coll. « Dictionnaires
et Références », we translate and underline.

name="_ftn36" title=""> style='color:black'>[36] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> We are resolutely,
here, on the side of the hypotyposis.

name="_ftn37" title=""> style='color:black'>[37] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> The reader may has
noticed the inversion of the traditional order: blazon VS counterblazon.

name="_ftn38" title=""> style='color:black'>[38] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> In the Vodún mythology,
Baron Samedi belongs to the Guédé family who “are not ‘Dead’, but Spirits
of the same nature than the others, whose activities and functions are a
matter for Death” (MÉtraux, 2007, p. 99, we translate). “Baron Samedi, Baron-La-Croix,
Baron-Cimetière, Guédé-nibo and Mrs Brigitte are the very much in the public
eye representatives of this dreadful family. The ‘Barons’ shape a sort of
so close-knit triad that we do not know whether they are distinct divinities
or the three sides of the same divinity. The popular imagination attributes
to Baron Samedi the appearance of undertaking business” (M
lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 100, we
translate).

name="_ftn39" title=""> style='color:black'>[39] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 97-99, we translate.

name="_ftn40" title=""> style='color:black'>[40] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 78, we translate.

name="_ftn41" title=""> style='color:black'>[41] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> M lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 78,
we translate: “As for the ones who receive the epithet ‘red-eyed’, they
are, without exception, harmful spirits and cannibals. Let us remind ourselves
that the redness of the eyes is a distinguishing feature of the werewolves.”
When Levi calls to Tchou, that one is also red-eyed …

name="_ftn42" title=""> style='color:black'>[42] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Let us remind ourselves
that Carlene’s cancer prevents her from walking and makes her take, beside
her chemotherapy, “painkillers, of the kind only hospitals can prescribe”
(277).

name="_ftn43" title=""> style='color:black'>[43] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> This proliferation
of Erzulie’s incarnations in the novel sets an other matter: the one of
a possible derivation of of the feminine characters’ first names. The reader
may have noticed it, in fact there is a very strong phonetic closeness—not
to say a family tie—between the feminine character’s first names: Carlene,
Caroline (the dreadfully beautiful, Erskine’s cold and noble
wife, a lawyer), with the reversed first name: Claire… right
up to its masculine form, with Carl! Then the question of
the roots of Kiki’s nickname arises, but we will come back to it later.

name="_ftn44" title=""> style='color:black'>[44] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 80, we translate.

name="_ftn45" title=""> style='color:black'>[45] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 89, we translate.

name="_ftn46" title=""> style='color:black'>[46] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> On this issue, see
MÉ lang=EN-US style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 29-31.
The way with which this Vodún thematics of the crossroads is applied to
rap music is to say the least original, accompanied by the injunction of
the price to pay. There it seems that it is not as much of Vodún offering—which
are always in food or sacrifices form—as a rather subtle manner to link,
in a contradictory way, once again, the matter of the money as cultural
practices, whether they be urban or academic …

name="_ftn47" title=""> style='color:black'>[47] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Indeed Zadie S style='text-transform:uppercase'>mith’s novel includes many precise references
to William Shakespeare’s work.
While Kiki’s exclamation is taken from the famous passage in Hamlet
(Act 1 scene V) after it is said that “ style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Something
is rotten in the State of Denmark” style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;font-style:normal'>,
Kiki uses this quotation in order not to be deeply concerned by a deleterious
situation,
but on the contrary style='mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;font-style:normal'>,
to be delighted with her children’s supernatural encounter.
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

name="_ftn48" title=""> style='color:black'>[48] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 129-132, we translate.

name="_ftn49" title=""> style='color:black'>[49] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> Carl will not come
back in the rest of the novel.

name="_ftn50" title=""> style='color:black'>[50] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> See above, page 11.

name="_ftn51" title=""> style='color:black'>[51] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> M lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 101, we
translate and underline.

name="_ftn52" title=""> style='color:black'>[52] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 106, we translate.

name="_ftn53" title=""> style='color:black'>[53] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 81, we translate.

name="_ftn54" title=""> style='color:black'>[54] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 106, we translate.

name="_ftn55" title=""> style='color:black'>[55] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> M lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 107, we
translate and underline.

name="_ftn56" title=""> style='color:black'>[56] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> From the Requiem
to the Ave verum by Mozart, music plays an important role of emotional
catalyst in this novel, like the music during the Vodún ceremonies. We especially
notice the importance of the choir singing. Furthermore, it is at that moment
of the novel that the theme of death appears heavily, as Carlen’s burial
arose anxiety and oppression.

name="_ftn57" title=""> style='color:black'>[57] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> This inebriation
also refers to the first award of the Slam contest won by Carl, at the bus
Stop: “Bring on the poetry. I love that … Now: tonight it’s
up to y’all who wins—we got a jeroboam of champagne—yeah, thank you,
Mr Wellington, there’s your vocabulary word-for-the-day—a jeroboam of champagne,
which basically means a whole lot of alcohol
(222, emphasis mine)
.
So alcohol plays an undeniable festive and Dionysiac role in this novel.
However, it is not without reason that the Master of Ceremonies insists
on this expression Jeroboam of Champagne: we must say that the use
of this phrase in literature is quite exceptional. From an intertextual
point of view, the evocation of a “jeroboam of champagne” allows us to establish
a direct link with the novel by René Depestre, Hadriana in all my Dreams,
where the heroine finally manages to get away from the zombification cast
on her by a hougan who had imprisonned her good angel (her spirit)
in an empty jeroboam: “As for you, Madam, in view of your beauty as far
as your nobility, you will be locked up into this ancient jeroboam of
champagne
. It belonged to the cellar of a Norwegian king of baroque
times” (we translate and underline). So far from being a mere gratification,
Carl’s victory, with his jeroboam as a prize, forecasts his manipulating
by the other characters: “People like me are just toys to people like you
(418)”. This final protest also constitutes an inversion of the novel by
René Depestre because it is not a woman (Hadriana) but a man (Carl) who
is under a white teacher’s spell, not a black hougan’s one.

name="_ftn58" title=""> style='color:black'>[58] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 109, we translate.

name="_ftn59" title=""> style='color:black'>[59] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> M lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 106,
we translate. It is nevertheless possible that the erotic exaggeration played
by Victoria would not be a mere trance but an ironic parody of the contemporaneous
pornography.

style='mso-footnote-id:ftn60' href="#_ftnref60" name="_ftn60" title=""> class=MsoFootnoteReference>[60] lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> However, it is possible to interpret this sexual
intercourse scene differently. In fact, this scene is an actual initiation
rite for Victoria: from the Lolita girl she was, she suddenly rises to the
woman’s and mother’s status (see the “maternal kiss” she gives Howard, at
the end of the excerpt, 318). Now, it is not insignificant that her attainment
of the sexual maturity happens during her mother’s funeral watch. In her
excellent work devoted to the matrifocality in Guadeloupe (I’m the mother,
I’m the father!
, thesis of the École des Hautes
Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, January 2000), Stéphanie
lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;color:black;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Mulot explains
very well that as long as her mother is alive, a young mother cannot reach
the rank of a woman nor of a mother, at least as long as she has not confided
her child to her mother’s care. Thus, “a woman just remains her mother’s
daughter, without really being the mother of hers until the day when her
own daughter, by leaving a child, will procure her an actual maternity.”
As Victoria has no child to offer Carlene, she can only take advantage of
her mother’s death in order to become a woman in her turn: “Look, I hate
to be cheesy, but it’s true: Jerome’s lovely, but he’s a boy, Howard.
I need a man right now (318)”.

name="_ftn61" title=""> style='color:black'>[61] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 178, we translate.

name="_ftn62" title=""> style='color:black'>[62] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 178, we translate.

name="_ftn63" title=""> style='color:black'>[63] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 188, we translate.

name="_ftn64" title=""> style='color:black'>[64] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> On this subject,
it is important to notice that the question of the social confinement is
generated by the mother’s death which gives structure to the whole novel
because the disclosure of Howard’s bereavement (295) follows Carlene’s death
(276) which itself makes echo to Kiki’s mother’s (364).

name="_ftn65" title=""> style='color:black'>[65] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> M lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:black;
text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>É style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>traux lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>, 2007, p. 141, we
translate.

name="_ftn66" title=""> style='color:black'>[66] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> O style='text-transform:uppercase'>rtiz, 2002, p. 260, we translate:
“We consider that the term of transculturation better expresses the
various stages of the process of the transition from a culture to another,
because it does not only consist in acquiring a separate culture, what strictly
speaking, conveys the Anglo-American term acculturation, but because
it also forcing implies the loss or the uprooting of a previous culture,
what could be qualified as a partial loss of cultural identity, and the
later creation of a new cultural phenomena which could be called neoculturation.
Finally, as the Malinowsky’s School upholds rightly, in all cultural mixing
the same thing happens as in the genetic copulation of two people: the human
being has something from his two parents, but is also always different from
both of them.”

name="_ftn67" title=""> style='color:black'>[67] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> O style='text-transform:uppercase'>rtiz, 2002, p.125, we translate: “Indeed,
the essence itself of the process we want to name is not a passive adaptation
to a standard of fixed and precise culture .Undoubtedly, any wave of European
immigrants in America experiments changes in its native culture, but it
also produces changes in its welcoming culture. The German, the Italian,
the Polish, the Irish, the Spanish always bring to the American peoples,
when they emigrate, something of their culture, of their eating habits,
of their popular music, of their languages, their traditional songs, of
their superstitions, of their ideas and of their temper characteristics.
Each change of culture or, as we will say henceforth, each TRANSCULTURATION
is a process in which something is given in return for what is received;
it is, as the expression means it, “it is only fair”. It is a process in
which both parts of the equation get modified. A process in which a new
reality, composite and complex emerges, a reality which is not a mechanical
style='mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt;mso-ascii-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";
mso-hansi-font-family:"Adobe Garamond Pro";mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>hotchpotch
of nature, nor even a medley, but a new phenomenon, original and independent.”
lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>

name="_ftn68" title=""> style='color:black'>[68] lang=EN-US style='color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'> “All your silly ideological
battles …’ she said, (…) ‘You both know they don’t really matter. The
country’s got bigger fish to fry now. Bigger ideas,’ she whispered, ‘are
afoot. Aren’t they? Sometimes, I don’t even know why I stay here.”
This last question strangely recalls Carl’s final interrogation …

name="_ftn69" title=""> style='color:black'>[69] lang=EN-GB style='color:black'> MÉ lang=EN-GB style='color:black;text-transform:uppercase'>traux lang=EN-GB style='color:black'>, 2007, p. 81-83, we translate.

Forqueray - La Couperin

Il Giardino Armonico

Vittorio Ghielmi (Viola da Gamba) - Luca Pianca (Lute)

Document: 

TRADUCTION_ANGLAISE_3.pdf