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Making Others Speak: Direct and Indirect Speech in 17th-Century Travel Writing to the Caribbean
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Modern Languages, Romance Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8173-5153
2018 (English)In: Modern Language Association: “Current Trends in 17th-Century French Studies”, 2018Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The presence of a foreign languages and discourses within a text written in French is, as Michel De Certeau says, a “troubling sign of alterity”, meaning that if we want to understand the relationship to alterity we need to interrogate the way the texts include other languages and see how the other is “quoted”. This paper looks at the ways in which travelers to the Caribbean include direct and indirect discourse in their travelogues in order to explore a poetics of travel writing in the 17th century. André Chevillard, a Dominican missionary residing in the French Antilles, gives a compelling example of how others could be cited as he transcribes Caribbean vernacular language, which he then translates into French by using Raymond Breton’s Dictionnaire caraïbe-françois (1665): “Mais chose admirable! combien la lumière de l'Évangile donne jour aux esprits les plus ténébreux, & aux hommes les plus sauvages pour les affaires politiques, comme pour celles qui regardent l'éternité: car au moment ils lui dirent (entendant parler du Latin) Irahin ambienh bëolan lixa siateih membé namht i balanaglé Baba Raymond c'est à dire Père Raymond tu sais une langue entenduë de tous ceux qui sont au delà des mers“(Les Dessins de son éminence Richelieu pour les Amériques 1669). Here native language is introduced in direct speech but triggers translation. Other travelers quote Amerindians in patois and, in some cases, the travelogues reveal that the travelers are far from knowing which language is spoken. When Du Tertre, for example, renders his first exchange with a “savage” in Histoire générale des Antilles habitées par les François (1654/1667) it turns out that he speaks Spanish. These examples show that other people’s speech is inscribed in the French text in a complicated fashion that not only serves to exoticize other voices, but to introduce them as actors contributing to the dramatization of the story of early French colonialism. Other languages and voices, whether described or reported directly, constantly break through the narrative voice of the sojourners in these accounts, as signs of a dynamic and complex interaction, which warrants further investigation.

                      Drawing from discourse analysis, specifically Dominque Maingueneau’s theory of scénographie énonciative, I argue that direct and indirect speech intervene in the poetics of the travelogue by contributing to the dramatization of the travel (Moureau, Pioffet, Requemora-Gros). Thus, the objective of this paper is to investigate a specific poetic feature of travel writing that can help us understand how the relationship to and engagement with alterity is constructed in terms of competing discourses. My hypothesis is that direct and indirect speech enter into and productively shape travel. It seems like sojourners do not incorporate foreign discourses only to capture an exotic reality for which their own language does not yet possess a vocabulary. The impact appears to be much deeper as the linguistic encounter goes beyond mere lexical borrowings. Far from the salons of the capital of the republic of letters, the travelogues seem to develop une esthtétique de la parole, proposing a spectacle of foreign voices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keyword [en]
Travel Writing, 17th century, French literature, Caribbean Studies
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Romance Languages
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-342059OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-342059DiVA, id: diva2:1183635
Conference
The 133rd MLA (Modern Language Association)Convention, January 4-7, New York, USA
Projects
Tropical Engagements
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P15-0679:1
Available from: 2018-02-19 Created: 2018-02-19 Last updated: 2018-04-06

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CiteExportLink to record
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