Academic journal article The Faulkner Journal

Eating Faulkner Eating Baudelaire: Multiple Rewritings and Cultural Cannibalism

Academic journal article The Faulkner Journal

Eating Faulkner Eating Baudelaire: Multiple Rewritings and Cultural Cannibalism

Article excerpt

A writer is completely rapacious, he has no morals whatever he will steal from any source. He's so busy stealing and using it that he himself probably never knows where he gets what he uses.

- William Faulkner, Lion in the Garden (128)

Each text is unique, yet at the same time it is the translation of another text. No text can be completely original because language itself, in its very essence, is already a translation. ... All texts are originals because each translation has its own distinctive character. Up to a point, each translation is a creation and thus constitutes a unique text.

- Octavio Paz, "Translation: Literature and Letters" (154)

With Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily" as nexus, this study1 examines the interface of translation studies with literary and cultural studies by engaging the Brazilian concept of anthropophagy.2 Derived from Oswald de Andrade's modernist enterprise and propagated more recently by the de Campos brothers, anthropophagy eschews resistance as an act of rejection for a resistance characterized by creative synthesis, not so much a reversal of power as a leveling of power. Consequently, we are better able to understand cross-cultural networks not only between the "Old" and "New" Worlds, but also within the "New" World itself. Generally, anthropophagites see the theory as a call to action, a manifesto for the creation of new literary texts (including translations). In contrast, this study advocates use of the concept of anthropophagy also as a theoretical tool with which to analyze and understand texts long in existence, including texts by authors who may have had no contact with the theory. Rather than focus solely on Latin American texts (though we will get to some later), the case study here is William Faulkner's short story "A Rose for Emily," which forms a nexus connecting not only France and Mississippi but also Latin America. It represents a series of rewritings: Faulkner rewrites Baudelaire, the French rewrite Faulkner, Latin Americans rewrite Faulkner rewriting Baudelaire, etc. By looking at Faulkner in this way, we better understand the important role he plays as an intermediary between various cultures.

In studying translations, one is perforce in the situation of examining cultural interaction. As translation scholars have examined different translations over the centuries, it has become apparent that one person's "translation" is another's "adaptation" is another's "version," etc. Even texts that claim to be a "translation," and are generally recognized as such, may alter the source text dramatically. André Lefevere and Susan Bassnett propose that we speak of "rewritings," which would encompass not only translations per se but also anthologies, commentaries, histories, and even critical journals (10). Therefore, the way scholars write about cultural interactions constitutes a type of rewriting itself. In the case of Faulkner we have an interesting example of the interaction of the Americas with Europe and with themselves, both among writers and those who write about writers.

Eating Europe

One way to talk about transcultural exchange is by use of the metaphor of anthropophagy, which dates back at least to Brazil in the 1920s, the same era in which Faulkner visited France and also later wrote "A Rose for Emily." In other words, in an effort to talk about a modernist text from one part of the Americas, we employ a concept stemming from a contemporary modernist thinker in another part. The focus here is specifically on Andrade.' He introduced Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto to Brazil in 1912, which considerably influenced the development of modernism in his country. In 1924, Andrade published a manifesto announcing a new school of poetry that he called "Pau Brasil," or "Brazilwood." Although he published the manifesto in Rio de Janeiro, he was living in Paris and was interested in cultural primitivism. Accordingly he wanted to push Brazilian modernism in a new direction, one that looked inwardly to regional and native traditions in contrast to those who blindly copied European art and literature. …

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