Sur “Le vieil homme et la mer” d’Hemingway

IX – The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

Lundi 2 aout 2010

On the next circle the fish’s back was out but he was a little too far from the boat. On the next circle he was still too far away but he was higher out of water and the old man was sure that by gaining some more line he could have him alongside.

He had rigged his harpoon long before and its coil of light rope was in a round basket and the end was made fast to the bitt in the bow.  //

The fish was coming in on his circle now calm and beautiful looking and only his great tail moving. The old man pulled on him all that he could to bring him closer. For just a moment the fish turned a little on his side. Then he straightened himself and began another circle.

“I moved him,” the old man said. “I moved him then.”

He felt faint again now but he held on the great fish all the strain that he could. I moved him, he thought. Maybe this time I can get him over. Pull, hands, he thought. Hold up, legs. Last for me, head. Last for me. You never went. This time I’ll pull him over.

But when he put all of his effort on, starting it well out before the fish came alongside and pulling with all his strength, the fish pulled part way over and then righted himself and swam away.

“Fish,” the old man said. “Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?”

That way nothing is accomplished, he thought. His mouth was too dry to speak but he could not reach for the water now. I must get him alongside this time, he thought. I am not good for // many more turns. Yes you are, he told himself. You’re good for ever.

On the next turn, he nearly had him. But again the fish righted himself and swam slowly away.

You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.

Now you are getting confused in the head, he thought. You must keep your head clear. Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man. Or a fish, he thought.

“Clear up, head,” he said in a voice he could hardly hear. “Clear up.”

Twice more it was the same on the turns.

I do not know, the old man thought. He had been on the point of feeling himself go each time. I do not know. But I will try it once more.

He tried it once more and he felt himself going when he turned the fish. The fish righted himself and swam off again slowly with the great tail weaving in the air.

I’ll try it again, the old man promised, although // his hands were mushy now and he could only see well in flashes.

He tried it again and it was the same. So he thought, and he felt himself going before he started; I will try it once again.

He took all his pain and what was left of his strength and his long gone pride and he put it against the fish’s agony and the fish came over onto his side and swam gently on his side, his bill almost touching the planking of the skiff and started to pass the boat, long, deep, wide, silver and barred with purple and interminable in the water.

The old man dropped the line and put his foot on it and lifted the harpoon as high as he could and drove it down with all his strength, and more strength he had just summoned, into the fish’s side just behind the great chest fin that rose high in the air to the altitude of the man’s chest. He felt the iron go in and he leaned on it and drove it further and then pushed all his weight after it.

Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all of the skiff.  (p. 90-93)

 Je ne sais vraiment pas qu’en penser. Si simple, si rude, si sobre, si prenant. Tant de route pour être si dérouté. Tant d’innocence pour tant de cruauté. Sans un contraste. Fallait-il faire quelque chose d’aussi simple et d’aussi ambigu que la mer, la mer insondable ? Avec quels moyens ? Des phrases simples, des personnages frustres, un style frugal, des dialogues faciles et enfantins, des monologues faciles et infantins, un stream of conscience facile et enfantin. Tout cela lent, long, fluide, court. Une novella. But what was all about ?  What happened at last ? Ni sentiment de perte ni frustration et pourtant. Une telle dépravation du but ou de la fin qui devait donner sens a posteriori, devenir finalité, rendre l’ensemble du récit téléologiquement orienté ne fût-ce qu’après coup, comme il se doit. Alors que là. Que vaut la reconnaissance des autres pêcheurs de la ville sans le butin escompté ? Et s’il ne s’agit ni de reconnaissance, ni de butin, qu’est devenu le chemin ? Un récit, une expérience ? Peut-on déjouer la fin ? La fin peut-elle prendre son sens du chemin et non le chemin de la fin ? Le vieil homme et la mer. Un combat, acharné, aimant et féroce, quel qu’en soit l’issue. Même l’issue la plus absurde et la plus dérisoire qui n’avait pas été anticipée. Même elle devra plier sous la grandeur de l’événement ; l’événement disparu, mais l’événement intemporel ; celui qu’on ne peut saisir. Le style insaisissable d’une aventure en mer devenue insaisissable.

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