Writing, Voice and the Proper

Jules Vallès and the Politics of Orality


Author: Luke Bouvier
How does literature give voice to the political? In what ways does it articulate a political dimension? For Jules Vallès (1832-1885), member of the Paris Commune of 1871 and editor of Le Cri du Peuple, author of the autobiographical trilogy, L'Enfant (1878), Le Bachelier (1881), and L'Insurgé (1886), the politics of literature is literally a matter of the voice, for it is inherent to the voice as matter: the grain of the voice, the physical trace of the voice in writing, the voice as a heterogeneous effect of writing. An indispensable work for all those interested in autobiographical voice and orality in literature, this study offers both a comprehensive theoretical reflection on the problem of orality and an innovative reading of Vallès disruptive literary voice, of his seminally modern aspiration toward a wide-ranging politics of contestation through the liberation of oral desire. A work of mordant irony and consuming passion, of prodigious wordplay and scatological humor, Vallès's trilogy revels in oral pleasure, in disfiguring improprieties of language that culminate in revolution. In Vallès's journalism as coup de gueule, in the physical embodiment of a revolutionary voice of the people, it is ultimately a utopic politics of orality that takes shape in the trilogy, one that strives toward radical popular action in the materiality of the voice, at the limit of the body in language: Le Cri du Peuple.
The Impropriety of Writing: Textual Victimization and Counter-Narrative. 1. Les Victimes du Livre. 2. Autobiography, Signature and the Proper Name. 3. Education, the Mother and Counter-Narrative. 4. Fiction vs. the Classics - the Play of Victimization. II. The Inscription of Orality and the Dis-figurative Voice. 1. Voice and the Destabilization of the Speaking Subject. 2. The Inscription of Orality. III. Orality as Consumption: Capital Gains and Textual Loss. 1. Wasteful Consumption and the Displacement of Value. 2. Consuming the Text: Counter-Narrative and Journalism. IV. Le Cri du Peuple: Revolution and the Politics of Orality. 1. Peasant Consumption. 2. Revolutionary Victimization and the Emergence of Le Peuple. 3. Le Cri du Peuple. 4. Infinite Revolutionary Consumption and the Textual Tomb. Works Cited. Index.