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Thinking Language and Translation with Henri Meschonnic (respondant commentary)

(Participation au colloque « Thinking Language with Henri Meschonnic » à l’Université Queen Mary University à Londres, le 22 septembre 2017, comme modérateur lors de la table ronde sur Meschonnic et la traduction. Participants : Professeur John E. Joseph de l’Université d’Edimbourg (communication : « Language-Body Continuity in the Linguistics-Semiology-Poetics-Traductology of Henri Meschonnic »), et Professeur Clive Scott (émérite) de l’Université d’ East Anglia (« Translating Rhythm into the Rhythm of Translation »)

 

Professor Clive Scott is Emeritus Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia and he has been a Fellow of the British Academy since nineteen ninety-four. Professor Clive’s research interests mainly lie in two areas: comparative versification and poetics; and literary translation, and in particular the experimental translation of poetry. His book Literary Translation and the Rediscovery of Reading was published by Cambridge University Press in two thousand and fifteen (2015). He was also awarded with the R. H. Gapper Book Prize by the UK Society for French Studies for his book Channel Crossings: French and English Poetry in Dialogue 1550-2000, published in two thousand and two (2002) by Legenda edition.

Professor John E. Joseph is Professor of Applied Linguistics at The University of Edimburgh. His research focuses on semiotics, the history of linguistics, and sociolinguistics. His most recent books include Language, Mind and Body, A Conceptual History, published this year by Cambridge University Press, and Saussure, on the life and work of Saussure, published in two thousand and twelve by Oxford University Press. He is the co-editor of Language and Communication and the associate director of Historiographia Linguistica.

 

After opening this session to a collective discussion and to questions, I would like to react to the presentations of both professors. First, I will review the two presentations, so please excuse me for repeating what has just been said, but I would like to develop my argument by anchoring it into how I see the problem. And secondly, I will continue the discussion by adding the question on how we can translate Meschonnic’s theory of translation.

And, to sum it up, in the first presentation,

Professor John E. Joseph invites us to think about Meschonnic and the issue of Language-Body continuity. At first, Professor Joseph showed the relation between language and structuralism which has divided the studies of language into different fields, separating, as the professor said, among other things, linguistics from poetics and from applied areas such as translation. This can be understood in its consequences according to which language is studied by focusing on the dualisms of the sign and no longer as an integrated part of a continuity that pertains to life. To explore this point, professor John Joseph drew a portrait of the dualism between mind and body throughout history, especially the Greeks’ vision in comparison with Meschonnic’s definition of continuity. For now, we can see that the opposition between Greek-Christian and Hebrew language thinking in Meschonnic’s work can be posited as an ethnic-essentialist perspective, because of his understanding of the Greeks as a unit despite its internal contradictions. Further on, Professor Joseph clearly outlined this thanks to Havelock’s studies on Biblical Hebrew, which is a very interesting point relying on the fact that Greek culture is opposed to Greek and Hebrew, undermining the essentialist idea of a single Greek culture opposed to Hebrew.

On the other hand, in Professor Clive Scott’s presentation, we could listen to a criticism of Meschonnic’s work on translation. The main point, as it appears to me, is the idea that writing exceeds discourse because of its internal interaction following a centrifugal functioning. And it is contrary to a centripetal way of thinking about discourse in Meschonnic’s work. Through the analyses of some of Meschonnic’s commentaries on poetry translation, such as Meng Hao Ran’s « Aube du printemps » and three of Shakespeare’s sonnets, professor Clive Scott has presented the issues in that centripetal way of thinking: first, this imposes a self-regarding understanding about discourse; then, a point of view about orality that doesn’t allow voice and its randomness as a paralinguistic function exceeding the text, and, as a result of it, putting in a secondary place the importance of the reader and his experience in relation with translation and its experimental characteristics. Finally, it leads us to a point of view according to which Meschonnic’s rhythm can be translated into, or replaced by, a rhythm of translation, as the title of the presentation says, which is the same political force but which allows the reader to become an important player in translation, preserving its important experimental characteristic.

Well, it is not a simple task to find a common point between these two presentations, knowing that they offer two different perspectives that seem very complementary. But, for sure, there is a criticism on Meschonnic’s work, exposing its contradictions. Thus, my argument will be based on this challenging of perspectives which happens because of the tendency in Meschonnic’s work to take fields that are in discontinuity with one another to a common place, language, life, poem. For me, one of the central questions in Meschonnic’s theory is his theoretical statement according to which we inevitably always have a point of view and an ideology when language in discourse is rhythm. And bringing up what professor John E. Joseph said again, cliché and idées fixes are a very uncomfortable way of thinking, but they are still a force that we can’t deny. And if we think about the translation problem, for Meschonnic, this force can reveal much about the point of view, and about how the language in which the translation was made is perceived. That is why I want to bring to discussion the problem of how to translate Meschonnic’s theory of translation. To do so, I would like to point out two important things: first, that for Meschonnic, I quote, “it is about showing that the biggest and the only problem of translation is its theory of language”, end of quote. (p. 37,) (in Ethique et politique du traduire, published in nineteen ninety-nine, 1999); and second, that his theory of language is part of a historical anthropology of language, which has a critique of rhythm as its main point to think poem and society.

To achieve this, part of his thinking goes through the experience of translation as a process that reveals his theory of language. This way, I think about what professor Clive Scott has pointed out in his presentation, that voice, for Meschonnic, is the instrument of epistemology. Thus, for me, that is a problem that appears here on how to translate that voice. The voice as an instrument of epistemology and the voice as part of a relation between language-body. Therefore, how can we listen to this voice in Meschonnic’s work if, for him, I quote, “all the [translation] problem consists in recognising what representation of language is at work.” (p. 38), end of quote, and knowing that his centripetal way of thinking discourse is part of his way of thinking poetics, and society, and language, according to a theory that is poem.

To conclude, and to open this discussion, without taking much more of your time, I would first like to thank you again, Professor Clive Scott and Professor John Joseph, for your presentations which were so interesting, and I would like to sum up the problem that I am trying to delineate here in one question: how can we continue Meschonnic through translation?

 

Rafael Costa Mendes

Of rhythm : voice and relation

(ci-dessous ma communication au symposium Meschonnic à Londres le 22 septembre 2017. Un grand merci à R. Costa Mendes pour sa traduction vers l’anglais. S.M.)

Translated by Rafael Costa Mendes

 

Seul le poème peut nous mettre en voix, nous faire

passer de voix en voix, faire de nous une écoute.

Henri Meschonnic[1]

 

Introduction

 

Laurent Jenny, reviewing Philippe Jousset’s book Anthropologie du style[2], adds a re-reading of Critique du rythme to his critical commentary, linking both books as “the call for an anthropology of style always has the meaning of a fight against the rhetoricalization of style “[3]. Jenny adds that this anthropoligization “by literary scholars […] constitutes an auto-injunction for the restitution to literary style of a value that is not only semiotic but also creative and pragmatic”. Nevertheless, the Genevan stylistics scholar reproaches each of them, Jousset and Meschonnic, thus, for not “going beyond a purely programmatic stage” and he therefore concludes that they “no doubt find themselves in the same type of dead-end”. It is interesting to observe closely what Jenny re-reads in Meschonnic “beyond more than a quarter of a century of history” and in “a different theoretical time”. Three reproaches follow each other: first the “lack of argumentative progression” which stems from an inability to take the program that was initially planned through to the end, aiming to give a method for theory; then, inscribed in a thinking about continuity and nourished by “monistic presuppositions,” Meschonnic’s theory has allegedly solved the dualisms “through a systematic use of a hyphen […], showing more an incantation of continuity than a conceptual articulation”; and finally the mistake of “making” significance and meaning “connect” since signification would have been divided “into two areas” which stand in contradiction to the hypothesis of continuity and of monism and prevent any comprehensible method, at the very risk of promoting senselessness. Jenny doesn’t lack any coherence, all the more so as he aims at “a phenomenological stylistic” that would go with “the development of his method”. Without prejudging the clichés that nourish each of these arguments (method as application-result of a theory; confusions between continuum and continuity and between representation and activity in and through language), it seems to me that Jenny doesn’t read Critique du rythme closely enough or maybe that he’s taking a critical approach that is strongly questionable in unmaking Meschonnic’s “argumentative progression”. In fact, the two quotations that he presents (p. 98 and p. 102) to prove the construction of a “sub-symbolic” or “a sort of pre-meaning that is destitute of meaning, a ‘significance’ suspending all signified, a subject after the subject” in Meschonnic are clearly out of their own context. They show that Jenny refuses to consider the problems that Meschonnic cares about regarding hermeneutics, which Jenny claims he adheres to, and regarding phenomenology, which Jenny claims as an epistemology of literary critique. All the same, he remarks that the thinking of language in Merleau-Ponty, which he claims he adheres to, “is still unfinished” all the more so as, according to him, his “philosophy of style is not a stylistics” in the sense of a “methodology of style”. Jenny indeed wants “description” and “formalization” to serve to elaborate a method, and thereby presents himself as an indispensable successor to the great phenomenologist.

Continuer la lecture de Of rhythm : voice and relation

Meschonnic, lecteur de Nerval

Meschonnic, lecteur de Nerval

— une réflexion sur la notion de « discours » dans la poésie

Ces dernières années, la recherche sur Henri Meschonnic est en augmentation. Beaucoup de chercheurs ont approfondi ses divers sujets : la linguistique, l’enseignement, la traduction etc. Au Japon, les études ne font que commencer, particulièrement par rapport aux linguistes comme Humboldt, Saussure, Benveniste, etc. On peut dire que ses travaux féconds sur le langage sont étayés par la pratique de « lire » des poèmes, des poètes. Dans cette étude, pour tenter de situer Meschonnic comme « lecteur des poètes », on examinera la notion de « discours » chez Meschonnic en axant le point de vue sur ses critiques littéraires jusqu’à la publication de Critique du rythme. Meschonnic a trouvé son propre discours comme « sentence » par la lecture de Nerval en 1958. Il a ainsi développé une notion nervalienne du « discours » indépendamment de celle de Benveniste qu’il découvrira plus tard.

Articles de Meschonnic aux yeux des études nervaliennes Continuer la lecture de Meschonnic, lecteur de Nerval

Le rythme aujourd’hui : pratiques et théories avec l’oeuvre d’Henri Meschonnic

ACTES de la journée d’études « Le rythme aujourd’hui : pratiques et théories avec l’œuvre d’Henri Meschonnic » 

du Mercredi 11 Mai 2016 (9h-16h30) à l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3en Salle Bourjac – 17, rue de la Sorbonne, Paris 5e, soutenue par THALIM (Théorie et histoire des arts et de la littérature, UMR 7172). Responsables : Serge Martin (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, THALIM) et Marie-Hélène Paret Passos ( Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul/ CAPES)

Meschonnic 11 maiCette journée d’étude a voulu montrer, à travers quelques travaux de chercheurs et doctorants, l’actualité de la notion de rythme telle que l’a conceptualisée Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009), depuis au moins Critique du rythme (Verdier, 1982). Elle accompagnait le lancement de ce carnet de recherche, « Henri Meschonnic : actualités et recherches, relations et résonances » qui veut rassembler au niveau international les travaux concernant l’œuvre de ce théoricien du langage, poète et traducteur. Elle voulait également signaler des passages de témoin entre chercheurs ayant connu Henri Meschonnic et travaillé avec lui, et de jeunes chercheurs qui le lisent aujourd’hui au coeur de leur recherche.

Marie-Hélène Paret Passos (PUCRS/CAPES) : Henri Meschonnic écrit Hugo: une poétique de la minuscule dans les manuscrits de la Fin de SatanHenri Meschonnic écrit Hugo – Acte texte 11 mai

Marc de Launay (ENS/CNRS) : Livre juif ou livre grec : sur Genèse 1. Marc de Launay. Livre juif ou livre grec. Sur Genèse 1

Gérard Dessons (Université Paris 8) : Le rythme et le reste.

DR: MH Paret Passos
DR: MH Paret Passos

Melissa Melodias (Paris 3) : Pasolini, Meschonnic : vivre et le rythme.

Rafael Costa Mendes (Paris 3/PUCRS) : Le rythme dans la traduction biblique : lecture de Henri Meschonnic par Haroldo de Campos https://mescho.hypotheses.org/242

Shungo Morita (Paris 3) : Henri Meschonnic, lecteur de Ronsard et de Nerval : une réflexion sur la notion de « discours » dans la poésie : https://mescho.hypotheses.org/233

Serge Martin (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, DILTEC et THALIM) : Le rythme, la voix, la relation : des « correspondants par excellence » : https://ver.hypotheses.org/2210

 

 

Journée d’études le 11 mai en Sorbonne

Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3

THALIM (Théorie et histoire des arts et de la littérature, UMR 7172)

Ecole Doctorale 120 (Littérature française et comparée) 

Journée d’études

Le rythme aujourd’hui : pratiques et théories avec l’œuvre d’Henri Meschonnic

Mercredi 11 Mai 2016 (9h-16h30)

Salle Bourjac – 17, rue de la Sorbonne, Paris 5e 

Organisation : Serge Martin (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, THALIM) et Marie-Hélène Paret Passos ( Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul/ CAPES)

Cette journée d’étude veut montrer, à travers quelques travaux de chercheurs et doctorants, l’actualité de la notion de rythme telle que l’a conceptualisée Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009), depuis au moins Critique du rythme (Verdier, 1982). Elle accompagne le lancement d’un carnet de recherche, « Henri Meschonnic : actualités et recherches, relations et résonances » (http://mescho.hypotheses.org) qui veut rassembler au niveau international les travaux concernant l’œuvre de ce théoricien du langage, poète et traducteur.

PROGRAMME

9h00                En présence de Madame Régine Blaig, ouverture de la journée d’études par Carle Bonafous-Murat, Président de l’Université Sorbonne nouvelle Paris 3 et par les professeurs Jean-Louis Chiss (directeur de l’UFR Littérature, linguistique, didactique), Philippe Daros (directeur de l’école doctorale 120, Littérature française et comparée) et Alain Schaffner (directeur de THALIM – Théories et histoires des arts et des littératures de la modernité, UMR 7172)

9h30                Marie-Hélène Paret Passos (PUCRS/CAPES) : Henri Meschonnic écrit Hugo: une poétique de la minuscule dans les manuscrits de la Fin de Satan.

10h00              Marc de Launay (ENS/CNRS) : Retrouver un rythme biblique.

10h30              Pause

10h45              Gérard Dessons (Université Paris 8) : Le rythme et le reste.

11h15              Discussion

11h45              Repas

13h30              Table ronde des doctorants (Ecole Doctorale 120) :

Melissa Melodias (Paris 3) : Pasolini, Meschonnic : vivre et le rythme. Rafael Costa Mendes (Paris 3/PUCRS) : Le rythme dans la traduction biblique : lecture de Henri Meschonnic par Haroldo de CamposShungo Morita (Paris 3) : Henri Meschonnic, lecteur de Ronsard et de Nerval : une réflexion sur la notion de « discours » dans la poésie.

15h00              Pause

15h15              Serge Martin (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, DILTEC et THALIM) : Le rythme, la voix, la relation : des « correspondants par excellence ».

15h45              Discussion et conclusion

16h30              Fin de la journée d’études

Le 11 mai 2016, journée d’études « Le rythme aujourd’hui : pratiques et théories avec l’œuvre d’Henri Meschonnic »

Cette journée d’étude veut montrer l’actualité de la notion de rythme telle que l’a conceptualisée Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009). Elle accompagne le lancement d’un carnet de recherche sur hypothèses/org qui veut rassembler au niveau international les travaux concernant l’œuvre de ce théoricien du langage, poète et traducteur. Elle associera deux chercheurs d’importance le concernant (Marc de Launay, CNRS, et Gérard Dessons, Paris 8) à trois jeunes doctorants de Paris 3 (Melissa Melodias, Rafael Mendes et Shungo Morita) . Elle est organisée par Serge Martin qui a dirigé le numéro de la revue Europe consacré en 2012 à Henri Meschonnic et Marie-Hélène Paret Passos qui travaille sur les archives de l’auteur à l’IMEC et qui prépare une anthologie de l’œuvre en portugais brésilien.

Programme à venir prochainement. Lieu : Sorbonne nouvelle.

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Henri Meschonnic

Ce carnet de recherche a pour objectif d’impulser les recherches autour de l’oeuvre d’Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009) et de rassembler les actualités le concernant. Ces actualités et ces recherches peuvent concerner les contextes et les sources de l’œuvre ainsi que sa genèse que les archives déposées à l’IMEC permettent d’éclairer, les actualités éditoriales tant françaises qu’en traduction, les séminaires, journées d’études et colloques ainsi que les thèses en cours. Rassemblant les chercheurs (enseignants-chercheurs, doctorants et étudiants intéressés) et plus généralement les lecteurs de l’œuvre, ce carnet veut devenir un lieu de réflexion et de théorisation continuée à partir des conceptualisations engagées par Henri Meschonnic : rythme, langage, société, voix, traduction, poème. Un dictionnaire des notions et des noms dans l’œuvre sera mis en chantier ainsi que des traductions en diverses langues.