"Literature has not changed the world" - Lyonel Trouillot

Written by Chenald Augustin

Thursday, 23 June 2011 18:20

This is the interesting title of a conference by famous Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot. This event was organized at the initiative of La Direction Nationale Du Livre, at the occasion of the 17th edition of ‘Les Livres en Folie’, in Haiti.

Lyonel Trouillot’s lecture took place Thursday at the Lycée Alexandre Pétion. Hence, the auditorium was composed of students specialized in humanitarian sciences.

Many issues were addressed and discussed of which, the commitment and role of the writer and of literature in society; what is it? What is the ‘rupture’ of class and corporation from a writer or creator stand point?

Lyonel Trouillot urged young people especially those who want to become writers and poets, to operate with a rupture from certain social practices, also with mindsets, and stereotypes, literary styles and inheritance of preceding literature schools.

"The real writer decides by himself. He is a loner. And he must assume his solitude,“ advised Lyonel Trouillot.

The speaker referred to the Czech writer Franz Kafka and the Haitian writer and poet Jacques Romain, his models, and whom he qualified as rebels; the ones who have divorced from their social backgrounds and families.

"Jacques Romain is one of the few Haitian mulatto writers to have broken with his bourgeois social-background and his identity. He was the first to invent the concept of ‘mulâtraille’ in writing ‘the inconsistent mulatto that I am...’ cited Lyonel Trouillot.

The conference, turned further into animated discussions on the idea of the commitment of the writer and the impact of literature on society.

Contrarily to misinterpretations of the role of the writer, literature which many consider as "the faithful mirror of society thus implying and expecting change and transformation to come from these,” Lyonel Trouillot, thinks and states otherwise.

"It is not for the writer to change the world, it is rather for the citizen to do so." "For, he says, literature is just showing things, such as the situation of the world and is not changing things”.

"Literature uses language for aesthetic purposes like fine arts... " And while evoking the real or denouncing the unacceptable, revolting, situations, "we (the writers), write because we have something in ourselves for which we need a channel of expression."

That's the goal of literary creation. “So we're not going to change reality by literature but going to show what reality is."

He underlined his concern, for he says the Haitian novels of today lack reference or inspiration from social themes or issues close to the people, such as, insecurity, repatriation, other phenomenal events that are in actuality an intrinsic part of the Haitian life or reality.

Very few novels develop in the spatial framework of Haitian slums for example. Just a few such as "Les enfants des héros", "Rues des pas perdus", "Les fous de saint Antoine".

The novel by Henri Kenol, "Le désespoir des anges" was cited additionally by Lyonel Trouillot as another exception; one story taking place in a slum.

Lyonel Trouillot, whose novels talk about common, everyday people, of the Haitian middle classes, announced at this occasion the release in August, by Edition House, Actes Sud, France, of his ultimate novel "La belle amour humaine", in which the main character is a Haitian-tourist taxi-driver.

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Source: {japopup type="iframe" content="http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=94156&PubDate=2011-06-22"}Le Nouvelliste{/japopup} traduction @FEMDOUBOUT