The autobiographical discourse to the test of powers Europe - Russia - Eurasia

1. Avant-Propos

Catherine Géry.
Ce volume de la revue Slovo fait suite à une journée d’études qui s’est tenue à l’Inalco en avril 2012, et qui se présentait elle-même comme l’aboutissement de deux années de séminaire de Master 2 (accueillant aussi des doctorants) sur les discours autobiographiques. Au cours de ces deux années, nous avons tenté d’évaluer la position du sujet et son expression au xxe et au xxie siècle en dehors de l’Occident ou des cultures dites « occidentales ».Nous avons envisagé diverses manifestations littéraires (au sens large du terme : formes écrites et orales) du discours autobiographique dans l’espace moral, culturel, social et politique : en partant du matériau brut de l’« ego-document » (lettre, journal intime, notes) pour aller jusqu’aux savantes autobiographies postmodernes, en passant par la littérature testimoniale et toutes les stratégies élaborées sous les systèmes communistes où parler de soi sous une autre forme que celle de l’autocritique ou de la courte autobiographie strictement normée et codifiée était éminemment suspect.
Section: Foreword

2. Introduction

Catherine Poujol.
Pour qui, pourquoi, comment parler de soi ? De quelle manière s’articule le discours autobiographique, les discours autobiographiques ? Le sujet est largement rebattu et la littérature foisonne d’exemples aussi célèbres que convaincants.Comment ces discours autobiographiques peuvent-ils s’inscrire dans les interstices souvent réduits que concède le pouvoir politique, mais aussi, celui de la société englobant les individus auquel nul n’échappe, fût-il lui-même l’incarnation du pouvoir ? Comment parviennent-ils à « prendre le pouvoir » le temps de leur énonciation, par surprise, par stratégie, par inertie ? À le distordre, le minoriser, le transcender. La question mérite d’être posée.Ce numéro spécial de Slovo consacré au « discours autobiographique à l’épreuve des pouvoirs en Europe – Russie – Eurasie » se veut une polyphonie de voix diverses connues ou ignorées, où résonneront celles des souverains eux-mêmes, comme celles des simples individus prenant la parole et accédant ainsi à une notoriété fugace, à côté de celles plus attendues des écrivains et autres personnalités reconnues par l’histoire.
Section: Introduction

3. L’individu à l’épreuve des pouvoirs communautaires dans l’épopée lyrique d’Isaac Babel Cavalerie rouge

Catherine Géry.
Red Cavalry is an ambiguous and unstable literary text, an oneiric and mystifying reconstruction in which reality as it was lived by the author/narrator goes through several distorting prisms. The reader has to experience the same feeling of disorientation as Isaac Babel experienced during the Polish campaign in 1920. The War experience is translated into an experience of otherness. Lioutov, the narrator of Red Cavalry and Babel’s alter ego, is the “absolute stranger”: he is a Jew among Cossacks, an Intellectual among Soldiers, and a Bolshevik among Hasids. He looks at the world with external eyes, which prevents him from recognition and from subjection to identitarianism. The outsider’s look is a way of renewing perception, which is, according to Viktor Shklovsky, one of the main principles of the “defamiliarization” as a narrative technique that achieves singularity. Here we are talking about the irreducible singularity of the subject who is thinking of himself as an outsider and, consequently, resists all kinds of social determinism and normative forms of power and knowledge.
Section: Russia in its margins

4. Les Karaïmes de Crimée : communauté et exil

Blandine Guyot.
Two tales are being proposed, whose authors, Avraam Kouchoul and Jacques Kefeli, were Crimean Karaims. They had combated in the White Army and emigrated to France in the 20ties, following the events of the Russian revolution. In his tale « Prayer »[Molitva], written in 1930 and published in Russian in France in the review Russkaâ Mysl’ n° 45 (4820), November 26, 2010, Avraam Kouchoul describes the moment of exile in November 1920, his departure from the port of Sebastopol, Crimea and his crossing of the Black Sea on a ship towards Constantinople. In the tale « The Wise Hakim Isak, ancient legend of Crimea » [Mudreč Hakim Isak, drevnaja krymskaja byl’], published in Russian in the emigration review Vozroždenie N° 47, Paris, 1955, the story takes place in the period of the Crimean Khanat, around Bakhtchisaraj palace and Choufout Kale fortress. The Khan and his favorite spouse are in love with each other, but are threatened by divorce in spite of themselves. A Karaim doctor, Hakim Isak, renamed for his wisdom, is called to Court to try and solve this drama. The author, Jacques Kefeli, dedicates the second part of his tale to the descendants of the legend’s figures, his contemporaries in emigration in France.
Section: Windows on Europe

5. Cyberia : les monades informatiques du « je » autobiographique

Julien Paret.
This article deals with the new forms of autobiographical writing mediated by information and communication technologies (ICT). We would like to make readers discover the dark side of postmodern Russia through the eyes of a cast of colorful characters who are currently haunting the Runet – the Russian internet – following the example of simulacra taken from science-fiction novels of cyberpunk genre. These characters construct, deconstruct and reconstruct their identities in real time in the virtual world with the aim of expressing their cyber “I” in a new political and philosophical way. In order to do this we needed to investigate the profiles, comments, posts, pictures and links published by several actors of Russian-speaking cyberspace: some unknown or well-known bloggers, a punk, a Donbass militiaman,or an agent of influence in the service of the Vladimir Putin regime.
Section: Russia in its margins

6. Autobiographie d’un autochtone de la taïga de Sibérie occidentale : Iouri Vella et la projection dans l’avenir

Eva Toulouze.
Yuri Vella (1948-2013) was a Forest Nenets reindeer herder, poet and activist in Western Siberia. Several times, he has spoken about himself and written, at some key moments in his life, is autobiography. In this article, I intend to analyse these texts, not only the explicit autobiographies, but also his literary texts, in which autobiographic elements appear: the closest we get to his last texts, the more autobiographic they are. I interpret these texts in order to emphasize the message Yuri Vella intends to transmit through them.
Section: Russia in its margins

7. De Crusoé à Robinson. Peut‑on échapper à la fiction ? Les tergiversations de la prose de Kazimierz Brandys

Marek Tomaszewski.
The prose of Kazimierz Brandys shows a constant questioning about its narrative structures. It reveals different tricks concerning the organization of the literary fiction: crypto-biography, mixing genres and styles, decomposition of discursive forms, self-creation, self-review (reinterpretations of previous works on the principle of distancing), romantic stylization, etc. Writing signs are pathetically opposed with notes of diarist tirelessly scrutinizing the daily realities. The rhetoric of the author of Letters to Ms Z never disregards the horizon of the readers expectations, Theartistic project of The Notebooks seems to be carried out through a dialectic confrontation (voluntarily articulated) between romantic fiction and the logbook. Indeed, Autobiography establishes a kind of separation between the two programmed me (the one of the statement, and of the enunciation), between the wrinting person and the described character. Moreover, at any time the purpose is to update the vision of«realistic» things perceived, without sacrificing the consciousness, the fundamental concern of literary performance. Brandys tries to snatch the romance of its only narrative function, creating fables and stories, and invest alongside another duty, that of restoring a privileged contact with the surrounding world.
Section: Windows on Europe

8. De Un roman naturel à Physique de la mélancolie (Gueorgui Gospodinov) : de « nous sommes je » à « je sommes nous ». À la recherche de la totalité perdue

Marie Vrinat-Nikolov.
I see a very Proustian movement between these two novels: from a widespread doubt, an agonizing crisis caused by the dissolution of «identity» andcertainties, announcing the Apocalypse in Natural novel, towards melancholic but serene acceptance of this crisis, under the sign of empathy in The Physics of Sorrow. After the agonizing conclusion that «we are I» follows the answer: «I are». I am all of humanity. Proustian movement of painful quest that ends with luminous epiphanies and opens interesting ways for renewing our approach and looking anew at both postmodern literature and «self-writings”. Which kind of writing could reflect the doubt, which is «inherently linked to métissage”, the mobility, the lability of “identity” today, if not postmodern, a Métis writing par excellence?
Section: Windows on Europe

9. Ego-récits de l’intégration : deux itinéraires de déportés au Kazakhstan soviétique

Isabelle Ohayon.
Two men, deported in Kazakhstan during the World War II, recount their respective experiences. Despite the great difficulties they encountered – detentionin gulag, house arrest, administrative stigmatization, precarious material conditions of life- they report the story of their successful integration in the city of Karaganda. These two itineraries are providing a grassroots understanding of the articulation between diverse ethnic groups and banned people, which make up a specific soviet society in this mining town of Central Asia.
Section: Beyond the steppes of Central Asie

10. Le prince Babur et le pouvoir des mots

Danièle Auffray.
The Book of Babur (Bâbur nâme) is a classical book in the cultural area from Uzbekistan to India. It is the autobiography of Babur, born as heir of agreat Timur dynasty, fallen in an almost destitution but recovering and conquest an empire which will be known as the Moghol empire, ruling India from his time – beginning of the XVIst century – up to mid XIXst century. The article presents the hypothesis concerning the meaning of this auto-justification work, including the approach of the sufism, the mystical shape of Islam in Central Asia whose Babur was a devotee.
Section: Beyond the steppes of Central Asie

11. Les écrivains djadides turkmènes A. Kulmuhammedov et O. Vepaev sur eux-mêmes et sur leur époque

Muradgeldi Soegov.
This article presents some aspects of the life and the work of two Turkmen Jadid writers, A. Kulmuhammedov (1885-1931) and O. Vepaev (1885-1937), who were severely attacked in 1931 by the Brigade of the verification of the literature, and notably by O. Tachnazarov (1902-1942). He wrote long articles in the journal “Turkmen Studies” (Turkmenovedenie), where he denounced O. Vepaev as an enemy of the Soviet power based on some citations of his poems. During the entire Soviet period, the literary critics continued to give a very negative interpretation, as Tachnazarov did, of the writings of A. Kulmuhammedov and O. Vepaev, who were characterized as nationalists, panturkists, and enemies of the people. This is only by the end of the 1980’s that scholars have gradually changed their mind about these two writers, and that some positive judgement about their literary legacy started tobe published.
Section: Hors-Dossiers

12. Le moi et le pouvoir dans la littérature russe de l’époque médiévale

Galina Subbotina.
As interest of an individual to self-examination is a relatively recent phenomenon, it seems almost unthinkable to find elements of reflexive analysis of the mind in medieval Russian literature. Nevertheless we think that it is possible to bring to light some indicators - very weakly expressed but distinct - of a deliberate effort of introspection in several texts of this period. To demonstrate this we shall analyze the following works: The Instruction of Vladimir Monpmakh, Praying of Daniel the Immured, the correspondence between Ivan the Terrible and Andrej Jurbskij and The hagiography of Archpriest Avvakum written by himself. We shall try to show that self-presentation and self-analysis appear at this initial period of development of Russian literature thanks to the relations with the State and religious power.
Section: Russia in its margins

13. Souvenirs d’enfance (Moscou, années 50)

Vera Fluhr.
This story evokes great historic events of the USSR in the 1950s (the death of Stalin and the last respects for him, the detention and dislodgement of Beria) through the lens of various episodes of a little Muscovite’s life. Showing the everyday life of a family and its neighborhood seen by the child’s eyes, the story plunges us into the Soviet life under totalitarian regime and makes us feel the authentic atmosphere of the times.
Section: Russia in its margins

14. Munavvar qori’s “Memoirs”: An Uzbek Confession-Testimony from the Files of the Secret Police

This a rticle explores t he s o-called “ Memoirs” o f M unavvar qori Abdurashidxon o’g’li (1878-1931), a major figure in the politics of Turkestanin the era of the revolution and an early victim of the OGPU. The autobiographical text is a series of pokazanija written while Munavvar qori was under arrest in which he describes his political activities since the revolution. The article analyses the way in which Munavvar qori presents himself—a combination limited confession with plausible denial or extenuation—and the way he deploys language. The article also presents lengthy excerpts in English translation.
Section: Beyond the steppes of Central Asie

15. Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, Essai autobiographique « Qui suis-je ? » : lettre aux membres de la Commission centrale de contrôle avec copie àI. V. Staline et L. D. Trotsky (23/05/1923)

Xavier Hallez.
This article introduces extended extracts, translated into French, of Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev’s autobiography written in prison in 1923. Sultan-Galiev(1892-1940) is the most well-known and most influential Muslim communist from Russia over the period 1918-1923. His disgrace was provoked by his refusal of Stalin’s national policy during the discussion on the future USSR’s constitution.He was accused for making an attempt « to unify all Nationals from the peripherals against the Centre » and to be «an anti-party and anti-soviet element». Sultan-Galiev wrote a long and singular autobiography, entitled « Who am I ? », in order to justify his positions and to demonstrate his revolutionary commitment. It is preceded by a letter addressed to the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party and to Stalin and Trotsky, where he analyses the soviet national policy and explains his disagreements with the official line.
Section: Beyond the steppes of Central Asie