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What Forms Can DoThe Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought$
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Patrick Crowley and Shirley Jordan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620658

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Metaphor, Parody and Madness

Metaphor, Parody and Madness

Two Readings of Marie Chauvet’s Folie

(p.195) Chapter Twelve Metaphor, Parody and Madness
What Forms Can Do

Celia Britton

Liverpool University Press

Folie, the final part of Marie Chauvet’s trilogy Amour, Colère et Folie (1969), depicts Duvalierist political terror in a small town in Haiti and the futile attempts to resist it by René, the narrator, and his three friends. They are all poets, and René appears to be mad. Ronnie Scharfmann suggests that in this situation of extreme violence the boundaries between madness and sanity become impossible to demarcate, and that René and his friends, in their desperate stance against the Duvalier regime, are heroes. (‘Theorizing Terror: the Discourse of Violence in Marie Chauvet’s Amour Colère Folie’, 1996). Michael Dash, however, sees the text very differently, as parodying the figure of the poet as national hero and portraying René satirically as pathetic and delusional (in The Other America, 1998). But the issue of whether René is mad or not can only be fully explored by examining the language of his narrative in more detail than either Scharfmann or Dash provide. Is his florid, extravagant style meant to be a parody? Is his prolific use of metaphor really in fact metaphorical, or a literal account of his hallucinations? e.g., when he claims to be ‘riding the sun’, is this a self-consciously poetic metaphor or a hallucination? And if the latter, is it parodic? In this chapter I argue that Folie suggests that parody and metaphor are both in some sense incompatible with ‘mad’ discourse, and that therefore the gradual disappearance of these formal features from the text as it progresses provides a way – the only way, in fact – for the reader to chart René’s descent into madness.

Keywords:   Chauvet, Metaphor, Parody, Madness, Haiti, Duvalier regime

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