Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique: Tournier, Seduction and Paternity
Robinson Crusoe survives as it is reread and also, more significantly perhaps, as it is rewritten. Michel Tournier, whose own rewriting of Robinson Crusoe is my subject here, comments on the dissemination of Defoe’s text, saying: ‘les exemplaires de ce livre – traduit ou non – agissaient comme autant de graines dispersées par le vent et produisant où elles tombaient des oeuvres nou-velles, profondément influencées par la mentalité et le climat du pays’.2 These lines are taken from the chapter ‘Vendredi’, which Tournier includes in his idiosyncratic autobiography, Le Vent Paraclet. In this chapter Tournier tells the tale of Alexander Selkirk, meditates briefly on the success of Defoe’s own text, and then moves quickly to a reckoning with the subsequent rewritings which, in Tournier’s terms, have served to precipitate Robinson’s transformation from the hero of a novel into ‘un personnage mythologique’ (VP, p. 214) (‘a mythical hero’, p. 183). Tournier also offers his reader some analysis of his retelling of the Robinson myth. This, he stresses, explores an individual’s loss of the structured identity formed in the context of the civilisation in which he has lived and been created. Tournier posits the creation of a new world on the island of Speranza, and the rebirth of a hero, Robinson, initiated into a new existence by his guide and (platonic) lover Vendredi. This vision of his novel leads Tournier to suggest that while Defoe’s novel is, for him, purely retrospective, his own novel, on the other hand, looks towards re-creation in entirely new terms. Tournier writes optimistically: ‘ainsi done mon roman se veut inventif et prospectif’ (VP, p. 223) (‘thus my novel was intended to be both inventive and forward-looking’, p. 191).
KeywordsGold Shine Mythical Hero Narrative Term Lavish System Intertextual Relationship
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