TOWARDS A REHABILITATION OF THE COMMONPLACE. NOTES ON THE ROMANIAN READINGS
OF JEAN PAULHAN’S FLOWERS OF TARBES
The metaphor of “Terror” in Literature expresses the obsession with originality, rooted in Romanticism, and matched, in modern times, by the (anti-literary) cult of authenticity. Nevertheless, in an age of multiple radicalisms, Paulhan rehabilitates literary tradition, with all its conventions and clichés, showing how it can be made to assume new functions from a contemporary perspective without falling into conventionalism and routine. This lenient attitude towards cliché (reactivated out of the wish to rediscover a common and intelligible language, rather than out of inertia) reflects here a definitive rejection of any kind of fanaticism, which made the French essayist criticize both the “rightist” political extremism of the inter-war period and the “leftist” extremism of the post-war age. In what follows, I intend to develop these observations and demonstrate that Paulhan’s reflections draw on a humanistic model that prevailed amidst dramatic historical circumstances, which favoured dogmatic thinking, the “terror” in Letters and life alike.
Keywords: cliché, rhetoric, authenticity, avant-garde, tradition, modernity, humanism, Bergsonism.