By Christopher Bram

« La révolution homosexual fut d’abord et avant tout une révolution littéraire. » Au lendemain de l. a. Seconde Guerre mondiale, une nouvelle génération d’écrivains américains s’est imposée. Leurs noms ? Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg ou encore, plus près de nous, Christopher Isherwood, Edmund White, Tony Kushner, Armistead Maupin.

Point commun de tous ces écrivains, outre l’insolence de leur talent ? Leur homosexualité – cachée pour les uns, revendiquée pour les autres, envers et contre toutes les discriminations. Du mouvement des droits civiques à l’apparition du sida, loin des cortèges de manifestants et sans jamais avoir fait école ni sacrifié à l’esprit de chapelle, c’est par leurs œuvres que ces « anges batailleurs » ont brisé les préjugés et ouvert los angeles voie à une modernité littéraire, politique et sociale aujourd’hui encore bousculée. Dans cet essai émaillé d’anecdotes et de pics passionnants, Christopher Bram nous invite à découvrir ou à relire quelques-uns des plus grands auteurs américains sous un jour inédit. Preuve que l. a. littérature est toujours à l’avant-garde.

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Extra resources for Anges batailleurs : Les écrivains gays en Amérique, de Tennessee Williams à Armistead Maupin

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Then, as it did during her testimony, “The room breathed: a buzzing sound like a wind getting up” (290). No one, then, escapes the mire of the ironically titled Sanctuary. Lee is lynched, Horace goes back to his wife, and Popeye is ultimately executed for a crime he did not commit. The novel relies on sliding, voyeuristic narration to produce its primary theme: the sliding, voyeuristic quality of human evil. It also raises the question of what evil is. Horace, for one, thinks that “there’s a corruption about even looking upon evil, even by accident; you cannot haggle, traffic, with putrefaction” (129), yet he does exactly that at every turn in the novel.

Dilsey clearly believes that the real world is the next, but none of her belief changes the Compson reality one bit; the salvation she finds in the Easter service stands in ironic contrast to the lives of people who use Sunday morning to sleep late. To make this point Faulkner closes the novel with a scene of crisis averted. When Luster drives Benjy the wrong way around the town square during his weekly trip to the graveyard, Benjy becomes completely disoriented and starts to bellow. Hearing his “voice mounting toward its unbelievable crescendo,” Jason hauls the horse and wagon aright, and the novel closes as the shapes of the world assume their proper place in Benjy’s perspective.

Because Benjy cannot distinguish past from present, we must, and Faulkner gives us the means by which to do so. Benjy records other people’s voices exactly, for example. He may not understand what they say, but in his repetitions of their words he copies their speech patterns and mannerisms, which we learn to recognize precisely because of the repetitions that he cannot help but make: “I told you Mother was crying,” Quentin said. Versh took me up and opened the door onto the back porch. We went out and Versh closed the door black.

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