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Pays perdu : de l'éloge paradoxal à la lecture offensée

Abstract : In 2003, Pierre Jourde published Pays perdu ; this short narrative has been nurtured on his knowledge of the land his family comes from : Lussaud, a hamlet in Auvergne, where about twenty peasants reside, an ageing population who lives modestly from traditional farming, a tradition on the verge of extinction. This text presents the reader with not only a series of portraits, but also with anecdotes and reflexions on peasant life, its roughness and beauty. Jourde’s tribute was not grasped by all the inhabitants, and some felt contempt and indiscretion, even though the writer wanted to convey respect and lyricism. Therefore, in 2005, they greeted him with insults, threats and knocks. The case ended on a charge laid by the countrymen, and inspired Jourde a second book, La première pierre (2013). This paper aims at reconsidering Pays perdu in order to define its aesthetic, anthropological and social dimension, and to study why the inhabitants that it portrays misunderstood it and received it in a wrong way. Contrary to conventional local colour literature, in Pays perdu the description of Lussaud is based on a blurring of space-time landmarks which breaks away from the homotopic consensus and celebrates a “smooth space” that is complicated with conflicting geographical references, pre-industrial anhistoricity, legends and myths. Thus, the text gives nobility to the little hamlet, in a mock-heroic manner which raises the common everyday life up to epic, turns humble people to heroes, makes prosaicness aesthetic, and gives a metaphysical sense even to the cow dung. This paradoxical eulogy of a difficult, hard and dirty beauty produces an unacceptable text, which exhumes the dead and converts the oral memory, its secrets and its taboos, into written Literature. Pays perdu is intrinsically doomed to offend, trapped by the difficulties of any allogene literary speech ; it is the victim of its underlying design : writing against all the clichés, stigmatizing or accommodating.
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Jérôme Cabot. Pays perdu : de l'éloge paradoxal à la lecture offensée. Mauricette FOURNIER. Rural Writing. Geographical Imaginary and Expression of a New Regionality, Cambridge Scholars, pp.125-146, 2018, 978-1-5275-0643-5. ⟨hal-02053805⟩



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