Vous êtes ici : Accueil / Littérature / Littérature américaine / Intertextualité et interculturalité

Intertextualité et interculturalité

Par Rédouane Abouddahab : Maître de conférences - Université Lyon 2
Publié par Clifford Armion le 10/09/2009
La parodie des Mille et une nuits par Poe dans « The Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade » est bien plus qu’un exercice littéraire ludique comme on l’a souvent souligné. Cette parodie a été écrite pendant la grande période de développement du nationalisme américain dans un contexte particulièrement marqué par le populisme. C’est pendant cette période que la volonté d’avoir une littérature et une langue « purement américaines » commencent à s’imposer. Triomphe aussi de l’idéologie puritaine bien implantée, qui assujettit les nouveaux arrivants à sa propre vision et à ses propres mythes fondateurs.


Extrait de texte :

Introduction :
Dans les premières pages du conte, le narrateur résume, c'est-à-dire réécrit, pour son lecteur les conditions de la narration des Mille et une nuits.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Old saying.

Having had occasion, lately, in the course of some Oriental investigations, to consult the Tellmenow Isitsoornot, a work which (like the Zohar of Simeon Jochaides) is scarcely known at all, even in Europe; and which has never been quoted, to my knowledge, by any American-if we except, perhaps, the author of the "Curiosities of American Literature";-having had occasion, I say, to turn over some pages of the first-mentioned very remarkable work, I was not a little astonished to discover that the literary world has hitherto been strangely in error respecting the fate of the vizier's daughter, Scheherazade, as that fate is depicted in the "Arabian Nights"; and that the denouement there given, if not altogether inaccurate, as far as it goes, is at least to blame in not having gone very much farther. For full information on this interesting topic, I must refer the inquisitive reader to the Isitsoornot itself, but in the meantime, I shall be pardoned for giving a summary of what I there discovered.

It will be remembered, that, in the usual version of the tales, a certain monarch having good cause to be jealous of his queen, not only puts her to death, but makes a vow, by his beard and the prophet, to espouse each night the most beautiful maiden in his dominions, and the next morning to deliver her up to the executioner.

Having fulfilled this vow for many years to the letter, and with a religious punctuality and method that conferred great credit upon him as a man of devout feeling and excellent sense, he was interrupted one afternoon (no doubt at his prayers) by a visit from his grand vizier, to whose daughter, it appears, there had occurred an idea.

Her name was Scheherazade, and her idea was, that she would either redeem the land from the depopulating tax upon its beauty, or perish, after the approved fashion of all heroines, in the attempt.

Accordingly, and although we do not find it to be leap-year (which makes the sacrifice more meritorious), she deputes her father, the grand vizier, to make an offer to the king of her hand. This hand the king eagerly accepts - (he had intended to take it at all events, and had put off the matter from day to day, only through fear of the vizier),- but, in accepting it now, he gives all parties very distinctly to understand, that, grand vizier or no grand vizier, he has not the slightest design of giving up one iota of his vow or of his privileges. When, therefore, the fair Scheherazade insisted upon marrying the king, and did actually marry him despite her father's excellent advice not to do any thing of the kind-when she would and did marry him, I say, will I, nill I, it was with her beautiful black eyes as thoroughly open as the nature of the case would allow.

It seems, however, that this politic damsel (who had been reading Machiavelli, beyond doubt), had a very ingenious little plot in her mind. On the night of the wedding, she contrived, upon I forget what specious pretence, to have her sister occupy a couch sufficiently near that of the royal pair to admit of easy conversation from bed to bed; and, a little before cock-crowing, she took care to awaken the good monarch, her husband (who bore her none the worse will because he intended to wring her neck on the morrow),-she managed to awaken him, I say, (although on account of a capital conscience and an easy digestion, he slept well) by the profound interest of a story (about a rat and a black cat, I think) which she was narrating (all in an undertone, of course) to her sister. When the day broke, it so happened that this history was not altogether finished, and that Scheherazade, in the nature of things could not finish it just then, since it was high time for her to get up and be bowstrung-a thing very little more pleasant than hanging, only a trifle more genteel.

The king's curiosity, however, prevailing, I am sorry to say, even over his sound religious principles, induced him for this once to postpone the fulfilment of his vow until next morning, for the purpose and with the hope of hearing that night how it fared in the end with the black cat (a black cat, I think it was) and the rat.

The night having arrived, however, the lady Scheherazade not only put the finishing stroke to the black cat and the rat (the rat was blue) but before she well knew what she was about, found herself deep in the intricacies of a narration, having reference (if I am not altogether mistaken) to a pink horse (with green wings) that went, in a violent manner, by clockwork, and was wound up with an indigo key. With this history the king was even more profoundly interested than with the other-and, as the day broke before its conclusion(notwithstanding all the queen's endeavors to get through with it in time for the bowstringing), there was again no resource but to postpone that ceremony as before, for twenty-four hours. The next night there happened a similar accident with a similar result; and then the next-and then again the next; so that, in the end, the good monarch, having been unavoidably deprived of all opportunity to keep his vow during a period of no less than one thousand and one nights, either forgets it altogether by the expiration of this time, or gets himself absolved of it in the regular way, or (what is more probable) breaks it outright, as well as the head of his father confessor. At all events, Scheherazade, who, being lineally descended from Eve, fell heir, perhaps, to the whole seven baskets of talk, which the latter lady, we all know, picked up from under the trees in the garden of Eden-Scheherazade, I say, finally triumphed, and the tariff upon beauty was repealed.

Now, this conclusion (which is that of the story as we have it upon record) is, no doubt, excessively proper and pleasant - but alas! like a great many pleasant things, is more pleasant than true, and I am indebted altogether to the Isitsoornot for the means of correcting the error. Le mieux, says a French proverb, est l'ennemi du bien, and, in mentioning that Scheherazade had inherited the seven baskets of talk, I should have added that she put them out at compound interest until they amounted to seventy-seven.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. London: Everyman's Library, Ed. Graham Clarke. 1998. pp. 332-334.

Pistes de lecture :

Le conte de Poe nous présente d'emblée une « carte » géographique étendue qui est en même temps une carte culturelle ou interculturelle, lien que le livre ou l'écriture permet. Voir dans cette perspective comment ces paragraphes initiaux mettent en relation plusieurs imaginaires différents.

À noter comment le narrateur procède à un jeu de tissage parodique qui est aussi un métissage interculturel fonctionnant au niveau des unités discursives simples (noms ou titres), et au niveau des structures culturelles globales : mythes, symboles, ères géographiques...

Voir également de quelle manière le ludisme du narrateur (qui se veut affranchi de toute emprise du désir) donne à lire une tension dont la source est la puissante et créative féminité de Shéhérazade dans les contes arabes.

Pour citer cette ressource :

Rédouane Abouddahab, "Intertextualité et interculturalité", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), septembre 2009. Consulté le 18/03/2018. URL: http://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/litterature-americaine/intertextualite-et-interculturalite