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Once upon a time... The tale

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Concours de Nouvelles  thème: Rupture


Are the marvellous tale, and particularly tale, - he like wanted it Paul Delarue, "the most perfect expression of our oral accounts"?
Its extraordinary longevity surprises: the Egyptian tale of the Two Brothers was found on one
papyrus - dating from Xlllè century before J.C, the legend of Etana and the eagle on exhumed shelves of sands chaldéens.

Once upon a time the tale the diffusion of the tale in space is not less astonishing since one meets it on all the continents. This a long time unexploited kind, relegated to the row of entertainment for the child and the people ignoramuses, all the specialists agree to recognize the interest today. But - it is not avoided a "beauty of not died" for our contemporaries in search of roots?

What a popular tale?

If the term of tale presents in the literature of the multiple meanings and the undecided borders, three criteria are enough to define it as an account: its orality, relative fixity of its form and the fact that it is about an account of fiction. The popular tale fits initially in this vast field that in 1881 Paul Sébillot baptizes, of a paradoxical expression, "oral literature". Like the counting rhymes and the proverbs, riddles and songs,
it profits from a transmission "of mouth with ear".

Each tale is a fabric of words, silences, glances, mimicry and gestures whose existence-even lubricates the word, with the statement of the African storytellers.
The tale is, moreover, one account inherited the tradition, which means by no means that it is transmitted in an immutable way. The storyteller draws from a repertory for a long time known the screen of his account and prints to him its own mark which will be a function of the place, the public and his specific talent. The popular tale is thus at the same time anonymous creation, in what it results from the collective memory, and individual creation, that of the "endowed storyteller", artist with whole share, which brings up to date the account, and, without upsetting of it the narratif diagram, the fact sieli.
The tale takes part thus, with the legend, with the "moving" literature, in opposition to the "fixed" literature of the proverbs and the sayings which do not change.

At the interior of the moving literature, the tale is made conspicuous especially by its character of acknowledged fiction. The very famous one "it was once..." attests already the rupture with the ordinary world. The localizations spatio-temporal of the marvellous tale the end of the world and with - beyond same of the mountains of the seven dogs, it was once a king... "In the facetious tales the fiction is marked especially by the exemplary character of the initial situation, the legend, on the contrary, is given as the account of events which really occurred and whose actors are known; its historical and geographical anchoring the enracine in the local life. However the assertion of reality is some time used, in beginning or end of tale, like a means of collecting the attention of the audience. The storyteller is presented then in the form of a malicious intercessor between
real world and the imaginary universe which it has just given birth to...

Horizon of waiting

The traditional tale is inseparable from the community in which it fits. The oral text cannot be defined
that in a network of functions whose importance varies according to the account, the public and the time considered. Contemporary testimonys privilege especially the ludic dimension of the tale. One thus tells, it is true, to laugh together. But if this ludic function exists, it probably did not have, in the traditional cultural hierarchy, the importance that we grant to him today: we place conveniently under the sign of
entertainment of the texts from which the directions and resonances escape to us. Another reduction frequently
operated, this time for the marvellous tales, consists with exalter their dimension aesthetic, which marks well
our distance compared to these "beautiful stories" resulting from "good old days"...

The tale is not defined only by the pleasure of the play or the desire of beautiful. It is also the expression of plain
collective memory which plays on different: methods of time: mythical time that of the origins, radically cut our ("it was in the times when the animal; spoke"), the indefinite past of the marvellous tale ("it was once"), the historical temp, but of an intermittent history "which leaves in the shade of the whole centuries isolated from the projecting facts, the family time which registers the account in an often fictitious genealogy ("the grandfather
of my large - father of my large - father "...). Whatever the methods chosen, the time of the tale has its own laws: the hero builds a palate in one night, the princess sleeps during hundred years...

The oral account fulfills also a function
of information. This one is sometimes impoverished, amplified, deformed from one relay to another since it is subjected to the errances memory and mobilities of the word. In a familiar universe, marked out, the storyteller chooses the privileged moment where the ordinary course of the things of the life is suddenly broken: the storyteller according to Hélias, it is "somebody who are struck of inspiration where the others only see incidental".

The social standards into force level very clearly in the accounts, which makes it possible to apprehend another function of the tale, moral dimension. In the christianized tales, the world orders around two antagonistic poles the Good and the Evil whose conflict animates creation. If the legends and the lives of the saints exaltent
actions that the group judges exemplary, in the facetious tales, on the other hand,on laughs at a behavior judged inacceptacle that one generally allots to the members of a community linguistically and geographically near for better marking his superiority. Thus, in France, raillentelles Corsican stories idleness, stories Jewish avarice, Belgian stories stupidity etc... In their turn, the Walloons make fun of the Flemings and reciprocally By there are reinforced the bonds in complicity said group.

The initiatory function of the tale then deserves to be approached. If one defines the initiation from a sociological point of view, as a acculturatif process which prepares with the adult life by prohibiting any return behind, it
tell appears to him to be closely dependent. Not so much because the tales would remain like the ultimate memories rites fallen in disuse but because they use a language symbolic of becoming, metamorphosis. For example, Dogon associate the tale sexuality. They see there a "word of the night", word of the desire,
essential to the marriages as with the births. More close to us, Yvonne Verdier interprets the Little Red Riding Hood of the oral tradition like an account related to the initiation of the girls.
After having broken its dress or its shoes of iron, heroin leaves to the meeting the wolf-sphinx which, to crossroads, invites it to choose between "the side of the needles" and "the side of the pins" (free sexuality and the marriage). Arrived in the grandmother, it acquires at the time of a macabre feast, the capacity to procreate by eating them udders and by drinking the blood of its grandmother. She will be finally initiated sexually when she sees the wolf in sound "stripped". The tale uses remainder a whole lexicon related to the work of the wire: the needle and the pin, the hood and the wolf's teeth, the small peg and the wooden door-latch. While exploiting the technical terms of an artisanal code (the seam and lace) which concerns female know-how, the popular tale recalls an adventure where the destiny is read of let us femmes.Parions that the reader will hardly have recognized the Little Red Riding Hood who however forms part of our inheritance.
It is that the oral tradition was by the intervention of Perrault, the Grimm brothers, then editions for the youth, censured, mutilated and on certain points, perverted. Perhaps some of these transformations (addition of an optimistic outcome in the version of Grimm, for example) were dictated by the concern of adapting the tale to the childish recipient.

The child and the tale
The cover of the edition orignale of the Tales of the last time of Perrault (1697) represents a country-woman slipping by with the corner of fire and making beautiful tales with the children who surround it. Tales of old women, tales of maidservants or nurses said one... This stérotype old made it possible to confuse in the same contempt the oral tradition with the domestic universe, that of the women and the little children.
However, in the traditional companies, the tales were intended to the adults. It is only from XVIIème
century in France that the repertory of the oral literature and that of the literature of youth were confused.
The amalgam was undoubtedly supported by the fact that the children, admitted with taken care country who gathered the very whole community, took pleasure there and these stories for large people were adapted little by little.
The tales provide to the child an easily decipherable universe because founded on oppositions very marked between small and large, rich and poor, good and malicious. The positive values are by definition on the side of the heroes. At the beginning of the account, the hero is underprivileged by his size (Tom Thumb) his physical appearance, his social condition and especially by his age (it is almost always it
junior by the family). He however will face all the dangers, all the tests and will come to end from more powerful than him. Optimistic message for the child, who finds in the handicaps of the hero an image of his situation in the universe of the adults.

Dark outcome, conforms to the narratif diagram of the tales of warning: a prohibition is formulated that the hero transgresses, thus calling on him the punishment. Paradoxically, these cruel tales are the only ones of our oral tradition which were conceived for the children in order to prevent them of all the dangers which threaten them. In the case of the Little Red Riding Hood, the contents of the warning varied. The morality of Perrault warns the girls against the wolves "doucereux' ' which accosts them whereas in the childish editions of today, the outcome sanctions disobedience. The illustration reflects this evolution well: heroin with XVIIIème A the charms of a teenager, nowadays, it has three or four years hardly.

The tale, dead or sharp?

The tale is always born from the meeting of two imaginary. If the collective memory, at the end of a slow decantation, into fixed the narratif diagram, this one takes life only when it incarne in an artist with whole share, gifted storyteller or writer. But this existence even seems threatened... However, it is tale like folk whole object: "it especially is seen when it seems to disappear" written Nicole Belmont; in XIXè century already, Gerard de Nerval evokes these "stories which are lost with the memory and the life of the good people of the past". If thus the marvellous tale, related to the traditional rural company, grows blurred in the failing memories of the country storytellers, keep us to conclude a little hastily with dead from the tale and the oral text in general. The decline of taken care of the countryside should not make us forget the other institutions of transfer where the word circulated and still circulates: coffee, the street, the post office today. The tramps, forgotten on their benches by our consumer society, tell stories of tramps. In the prisons resound of the songs of convicts who inspired to Pierre Goldman some of his more beautiful pages. Everywhere where there is deprivation of hope the oral account exists, because it is a means of active resistance. Alive word, the tale is inseparable from a body. The intonations of reciting, the stamp of its voice, its silences and its pauses, accelerations abrupt and calculated slownesses of the narration, the gestures which prolong the message, dramatize it or moderate it, here what makes the charm of the tale, a charm so strong which it creates around reciting a true magic circle. Ring which only requires to widen... Christelle Le Gallo  Illustration JLB

book_dicamillo.jpg (28320 octets)       marquez_book.jpg (29746 octets)       tales_book.jpg (39034 octets)

Kate Dicamillo         Gabriel Garcia Marquez        Marie Ponsot



Amélie Nothomb    Douglas Kennedy    Eliette Abécassis    Dai Sijie    Marc Levy    Bernard Werber   Mary Higgins Clark 

Amin Maalouf  Salif Keïta  Analyze : The tale



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