¿Qué pasa en Francia?
Hace unas semanas, la revista Time declaró en su portada la decandencia de la cultura francesa. En estos días, todos han opinado al respecto. La mayoría de franceses, obvio, descarta el artículo de la revista (en el que se llega a decir que Paul Auster es un "adoptado" de Francia para tener alguien de quién sentirse orgullosos) diciendo que es uno más de los periódicos -o cíclicos- ataques norteamericanos a la cultura francesa. Todos lo han desestimado, pero parece imposible a la luz de los hechos ser tan tajante. Ciertamente, Francia no vive un gran momento cultural no por la baja calidad de sus autores, necesariamente, sino por el pobre poder de convocatoria que éstos tienen en otras lenguas.. El téorico Bernard-Henri Levy devuelve el golpe con gran estilo y ha escrito un artículo en The Guardian como respuesta al artículo de Time en que afirma: "'American talk of the death of French culture says more about them than us" y deja en claro los cinco axiomas que se esconden tras la idea de que la cultura francesa está en decadencia. ¿No será que lo que está en decadencia, más bien, es la idea de las culturas dominantes?
En el blog de Jean Francoise Foguel se le dedica un post al tema.
Dice Times: "Certain aspects of national character may also play a role. Abstraction and theory have long been prized in France's intellectual life and emphasized in its schools. Nowhere is that tendency more apparent than in French fiction, which still suffers from the introspective 1950s nouveau roman (new novel) movement. Many of today's most critically revered French novelists write spare, elegant fiction that doesn't travel well. Others practice what the French call autofiction — thinly veiled memoirs that make no bones about being conceived in deep self-absorption. Christine Angot received the 2006 Prix de Flore for her latest work, Rendez-vous, an exhaustively introspective dissection of her love affairs. One of the few contemporary French writers widely published abroad, Michel Houellebecq, is known chiefly for misogyny, misanthropy and an obsession with sex. "In America, a writer wants to work hard and be successful," says François Busnel, editorial director of Lire, a popular magazine about books (only in France!). "French writers think they have to be intellectuals." Conversely, foreign fiction — especially topical, realistic novels — sells well in France. Such story-driven Anglo-Saxon authors as William Boyd, John le Carré and Ian McEwan are over-represented on French best-seller lists, while Americans such as Paul Auster and Douglas Kennedy are considered adopted sons. "This is a place where literature is still taken seriously," says Kennedy, whose The Woman in the Fifth was a recent best seller in French translation. "But if you look at American fiction, it deals with the American condition, one way or another. French novelists produce interesting stuff, but what they are not doing is looking at France."
Dice The Guardian: "Axiom five: Perhaps the most absurd, the most naive of all. This translatability is not only ceaseless, but constant. This formula effect is not only necessary, but immediate. The great works are those that can transfer, not only in their entirety, but almost in real time, into the language of "global significance". The ultimate idiocy is contained in the most comical passages of this article: those where the author acts as if the great French writers, the Camus, the Sartres, even the Racines and the Molières, those against whom he hopes to measure the flickering lights of today's minor and inferior works, were all propelled to instantaneous global glory! As if these 17th-century works, which struggled to shine beyond the confines of the court, were already somehow battering down the doors of the sacrosanct New York Times bestseller list of the 21st century! I should also mention the passage in which the author reheats that old and oft-repeated prejudice: that the 20th-century avant garde writers have sterilised French fiction. Or the passage where it is said of Michel Houellebecq that he is "primarily known for his misogyny, his misanthropy and his sexual obsessions" - a way of implying that a writer is somehow accountable for the traits he gives his characters. But I would like to end on the final overriding impression of this bizarre text, which the more I think about it, seems less and less a survey of France and more and more a savage reflection of the state of American culture itself. Because what really strikes one is the nervousness of the tone. It is this desire to prove too much which inevitably, as Nietzsche said, exhausts truth. It is the whiff of anxiety and, perhaps, of anguish, which emerges from this article. As if it contains an ultimate message, but a secret one, and in code. Come on! Let's get to the point! My feeling is that this article would not speak of the decline of French culture if it did not also speak of the fate of all dominant cultures, which at one time or another are condemned to watch their dominance decline. This article speaks truly of America and of what will happen to it on that day when the increasing power of Spanish, Chinese, or perhaps other Asian languages ensure that Anglo-American will no longer be the language of the formula and of universal translation. France as metaphor for America. Anti-French hostility as a displaced form of panic which dare not speak its name. Classic.