N° 3 - La Création en collaboration


par Guillaume Bellon et Erica Durante

What to make of the author after pronouncing him dead ? It has been forty years since some theory has sealed the demise of the “fairly recent” creation that made up the author –a theory, which, in the aftermath of a myriad “returns”, “re-enactments”, “re-appearances”, “dissolutions” or even “disappearances”, keeps haunting the literary and artistic scenes. The author is dead, then long live authors ! This third issue of Recto/Verso is not so much interested in the restoration the authorial/auctorial figure as in its plurality, as suggested in the title “Collaborative creation”. Our intention is not in the least to shy away from the problems raised by the very concept of “collaboration” –at the very least in the plurality of languages appearing in this journal. While the first implication of the term struck us as so straightforward, not say so crystal-clear that it imposed itself to us. Yet, we need look into the extra implications History has tinged this term with. Cum-laborare –we are setting the stakes of this issue in the etymological truth encapsulated in this conjunction or in the reunion around the literary work to make. It lays bare concerns which are two-fold, centring both on the auctorial figure and the literary work itself. Indeed, over these matters of creation in collaboration, we deem the authorial/auctorial figure needs redefining since the author can no longer be perceived as an individual coming to grips with the act of creating, but rather as an individual committed to a plural subject. Ironically, critical theory hardly ever has a good insight on the question. Besides, what is the nature of a literary work as soon as it is the fruit of a collaboration mingling, weaving and interweaving a polyphony of voices on a written page ? On a canvas, or even on a stage ? Over such matters this issue offers to shed light through the various examples unfolding as follows, whilst not aiming at too extensive an exposé.

Imperfect creators because plural. We shall set this issue of Recto/Verso under this Mallarméan sign. Author cum editor, writer cum illustrator, friends cum travel companions, master cum disciple, scientist cum artist are as many conjunctions which are systematically committed to singular, hence often problematic relationships. It is equally true for the actors themselves, those who are committed to a collaboration that might turn into separation, in other terms, lead to a form of divorce or conflicts of interest. The literary critic has often been outstandingly aloof towards such writing duets or trios. In this respect, their manuscripts bear little mark of those four, sometimes six, hands, which alternatively rested on each other, wrote corrections or relieved one another. That is partly the reason why the literary researcher has no alternative but turn to other types of textual sources, such as correspondences, diaries, testimonies or notebooks exposing the fiction of a collaboration which remains hard to grasp or fathom in its most minute and multi-faceted aspects. For in this particular field, perhaps more significantly than in any other, as reading the first section entitled “Cahiers de genèse” will help you realise, any essentialist approach is bound to prove oversimplistic and undermining. Thus, we need push our plural approach to its limit and rather than speak of collaboration as a concept, we had better speak of the various shapes taken on by these collaborations.

In this particular respect, the sections entitled “Rendez-vous” and “Passerelles” are just as many opportunities to seize and explore some of these collaborations or territories –when collaborations do not just involve a human subject interacting with another, but when this Other fills the entire stage whilst remaining unfathomable. Be it spelling out the other subterranean voices running through the social fabric of society, be it hiring and committing three hundred artists along with anonymous figures to a project as well as having them take over each other’s ideas and thoughts, we are shedding new light on what appears to us as the ultimate form of “working together”. So it dawned on us as something fitting or judicious to extend the “Marges” section to the review of two other books, one theoretical in content, the other fictional in nature, thus enabling us to come to grips with such an elusive notion.

And to finish on this collaborative note, whilst pushing the notion of collaboration to the point of considering it as one of the foundation stones of the creative act and without turning a blind eye on the risk of dissolution that might ensue, let us take up the challenge !

This issue would have never seen the light of day without the intellectual collaboration and friendship of Djamila Badache, Marc Bittar, Sonia Bordji, Francine Brobeil, Marie-Claire Chalvet, Lora Davis, Matteo Durante, Anne Eicher-Emmanuel, Linda Ellia, Corina Ferrero, Sebastiano Grasso, Rebecca Johnson Melvin, Maya Judd, Michel Lafon, Michèle Le Pavec, Claire-Sophie Le Roux, Pierre Lecuire, Javier Lluch, Nicole Malinconi, Carlo Montaleone, Timothy D. Murray, Benoît Peeters, Clément Pieyre, Caterina Resca, Rodrigo Rey Rosa and of Christian Schiaretti. So let us use the space of this particular issue to pay our gratitude to all these collaborators.

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