SANGSUE Daniel : Fantômes, esprits et autres morts-vivants

Publié par , le 25 novembre 2011

Professeur de littérature française moderne à l’université de Neuchâtel (Suisse), spécialiste de Stendhal mais aussi de l’antiroman et de la parodie, Daniel Sangsue fait paraître un magnifique pavé qu’il intitule : “Essai de pneumatologie littéraire”.

Fasciné par l’obsession des écrivains français du XIXe siècle pour les thèmes de “revenance”, il consacre cet essai aux fantômes dans la littérature de ce siècle, taraudé par deux questions : Pourquoi les fantômes ? Et pourquoi au XIXe siècle ? Il définit la pneumatologie comme étant la science des fantômes ou esprits, spectres, etc., à l’instar de la vampirologie, science des vampires. Même s’il a aussi étudié ceux-ci (dans “le désir un peu facétieux de jouer avec le nom fatal que je porte”), il élargit son approche à tout revenant. La première partie est générale, sans référence à des écrivains particuliers, objets, eux, de la seconde partie.
Sangsue analyse tout d’abord les différentes manifestations des revenants, leur aspect, la perception de ceux qui les voient ou entendent, ainsi que le lieu, le temps et le but de leurs apparitions. Il examine le magnétisme, le spiritisme, l’occulte, l’intérêt de la psychanalyse, le rêve, le principe de la peur ressentie et clôt cette partie par un petit tour du côté de la poésie et du théâtre. Avant d’aborder ensuite quelques écrivains-phares, l’auteur dresse un panorama de la thématique dans d’autres arts, tels la peinture, la musique ou la photographie, afin de bien cerner le contexte esthétique de l’époque.
Enfin, il étudie plus spécifiquement l’oeuvre de Nodier, Nerval, Mérimée, Stendhal, Baudelaire, Hugo, Champfleury, Maupassant et Bourget. Malgré le nombre impressionnant de pages et le caractère souvent pointu de certains chapitres, Daniel Sangsue fait ici véritablement oeuvre de maître, en ce sens qu’il approche sa thématique de manière tant globale que particulière, sans se vouloir exhaustif, mais en réfléchissant sur l’attrait et l’intérêt de la fascination pour le revenant. Il interpelle ainsi tous les passionnés qui, certainement, souhaiteront, grâce à lui, aller plus loin encore dans leurs recherches.

En outre, l’auteur manie fort bien la langue française, son livre se lisant aussi agréablement qu’un excellent roman, sans oublier une bonne dose d’humour. Nous sommes loin ici de certaines gloses au jargon universitaire aussi abscons que fastidieux. Pour une fois, la lecture d’un essai ardu engendre un vrai plaisir de lecture : la performance est assez rare pour être soulignée. Ajoutons un important corpus de notes en bas de page et une bibliographie assez complète. Voilà une somme qui restera. Très chaleureusement recommandé.

Daniel SANGSUE : Fantômes, esprits et autres morts-vivants, essai de pneumatologie littéraire, Librairie José Corti, 2011, 620 p., 25 euros.

Bruno Peeters

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