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Karen Blixen, être une conteuse

March 25th, 2012 · No Comments

I belong to an ancient, idle, wild and useless tribe, perhaps I am even one of the last members of it, who, for many thousands of years, in all countries and parts of the world, has, now and again, stayed for a time among the hard-working honest people in real life, and sometimes has thus been fortunate enough to create another sort of reality for them, which in some way or another, has satisfied them. I am a storyteller.

Later, when I knew in my heart I should have to sell the farm and go back to Denmark, I did begin to write. To put my mind to other things I began to write tales. Two of the Gothic Tales were written there. But earlier, I learned how to tell tales. For, you see, I had the perfect audience. White people can no longer listen to a tale recited. They fidget or become drowsy. But the natives have an ear still. I told stories constantly to them, all kinds. And all kinds of nonsense. I’d say, “Once there was a man who had an elephant with two heads . . . ” and at once they were eager to hear more. “Oh? Yes, but Memsahib, how did he find it, and how did he manage to feed it?” or whatever. They loved such invention. I delighted my people there by speaking in rhyme for them; they have no rhyme, you know, had never discovered it. I’d say things like “Wakamba na kula mamba” (“The Wakamba tribe eats snakes”), which in prose would have infuriated them, but which amused them mightily in rhyme. Afterwards they’d say, “Please, Memsahib, talk like rain,” so then I knew they had liked it, for rain was very precious to us there.

Stories have been told as long as speech has existed, and sans stories the human race would have perished, as it would have perished sans water. […] I see today a new art of narration, a novel literature and category of belles-lettres, dawning upon the world. […] And this new art and literature - for the sake of the individual charaters in the story, and in order to keep close to them an not be afraid - will be ready to sacrifice the story itself. […] It is a nobel art, a great, earnest and ambitious human product. But it is a human product. The divine art is the story. In the beginning was the story; the human characters came on the sixth day only.

Isak Dinesen, The Cardinal’s First Tale. “Isak Dinesen” est le nom de plume de la Baronne Karen Blixen, grande conteuse et auteur notamment d’Out Of Africa.

Tags: Inspiration pour l'improvisation

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