Frankétienne: towards an aesthetic of rewriting
This thesis examines the Haitian writer Franketienne's practice of rewriting his own texts, a feature of his work which frequently has been overlooked. It argues that rewriting shapes his oeuvre, providing him with the opportunity to mirror the characteristic openness and mobility of his principal literary aesthetic, the Spiral. Rewriting also enables him to bring out certain themes more clearly, such as zombification, deciphering, and cannibalism. These aesthetic and thematic aspects are, the thesis concludes, the most important functions at work in Franketienne's rewriting. By focusing on this practice, I am also able to chart important evolutions across the forty years of Franketienne's literary production.Addressing this issue of rewriting, I compare a corpus of Franketienne's texts with their rewritten versions, ranging from his earliest rewriting, Les Affres d'un defi (1979), through Mur a crever (1995), Ultravocal (1995), up to Les Metamorphoses de I'oiseau schizophone (1996-7) and Dezafi (2002). The first chapter outlines the main hyperbolizing tendencies in Franketienne's rewriting of his Creole text Dezafi (1975) in Les Affres d'un defi (1979) and Dezafi (2002), arguing that Les Affres d'un defi can be seen as Franketienne's first rewriting, and not just as a French translation of Dezafi. In chapter two, I demonstrate that Franketienne renews his first literary texts Mur a crever (1968) and Ultravocal (1972) after a period of some thirty years by updating their initial presentation of Spiralism to reflect later developments in his aesthetic ideas, and through the addition of new and stronger allusions to recent events in Haiti. Based on Franketienne's most major rewriting to date — Les Metamorphoses de I 'oiseau schizophone (1996-7) — chapters three and four show how Franketienne's thematic and aesthetic concerns become far more pronounced as his practice of rewriting evolves.When Franketienne rewrites, I have found that he does so mainly by accretion, integrating additions of various lengths throughout his texts, which are swelled considerably as a result. My study shows that aesthetic concerns become more pronounced through added references to the open and mobile Spiral form, and to the aesthetic processes which constitute the rewriting itself. Four such processes are detected: hyperbolization, deciphering/clarification, recapitulation, and cannibalization. In thematic terms, his rewriting develops certain key themes with greater complexity. Clearer political references are often added, in particular to the dictatorship of Francis Duvalier, as well as to recent politically significant events in Haiti, which thus bring older works up to date. Of all these processes and themes, I argue that cannibalism is the most important because of the opportunity it affords for comment on key political themes, and for summing up the rewriting process itself. Throughout Les Metamorphoses de I'oiseau schizophone cannibalism is used as a metaphor to represent both the iniquity of those in power in Haiti since 1804, and Franketienne's practice of rewriting, which is depicted as a very physical process of eating his own texts, and bringing them back up again replete with new additions.