À toi, Caliban: a history of the tempest in France and the francophone world

Clark, Charlotte Louisa (2022). À toi, Caliban: a history of the tempest in France and the francophone world. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis offers a history of Shakespeare’s Tempest in France and the Francophone world. After a brief overview of Shakespeare – and more specifically The Tempest – on the French stage up until the late nineteenth century, there is a focus on four main responses, written in French, which have themselves shaped the afterlife of the play around the world: Ernest Renan’s 1878 sequel, Caliban, suite de la Tempête, Jean Guéhenno’s Caliban parle (1928), Octave Mannoni’s Psychologie de la colonisation (1950), and Aimé Césaire’s Une tempête (1969). These adaptations and responses were all composed after, and shaped by, significant events in the history of France and the Francophone world: they are part of the play’s post-Revolution, post-WW1, post-colonial journey.
Renan’s sequel translates Prospero, Caliban and Ariel to a new, urban, post-Enlightenment locale, disrupting the Prospero-Caliban power dynamic. Renan describes his sequel as attempt to show a development for the character beyond anything that Shakespeare might have imagined; I argue that his sequel is significant in its recognition of Caliban’s revolutionary potential, and that this was shaped by the revolutionary events in France. Jean Guéhenno’s Caliban parle (1928) is a response to Renan’s sequel as much as it is to Shakespeare’s Tempest. Guéhenno’s conceit in this work – essentially an extended monologue – is that he will embody the character of Caliban and speak as him. With this text, Guéhenno enters into the dialogue instigated by Renan about Caliban’s role in society. In his sequel, Renan establishes Caliban as a working-class man symbolic of ‘the people’; Guéhenno continues this identification and attempts to create a background for the character as well as forging a new future for him.
Renan and Guéhenno both focussed on Caliban’s class status; the next text I consider is Mannoni’s, which adds a racial specificity to the character. Mannoni’s response, which offers a literary approach to a psychoanalytical treatise, was created against the backdrop of the 1947 uprising in Madagascar. I demonstrate that Mannoni’s work, highly contentious, proved profoundly influential in the trajectory of the play – significant postcolonial figures (such as Fanon, Césaire and Memmi) reacted against this work, which Jonathan Bate describes as ‘pioneering’ in its consideration of the play in relation to colonialism. Mannoni’s influence was not limited to theory: Jonathan Miller cites Mannoni as a source for his seminal 1970 production, which made the play explicitly postcolonial. I argue that Mannoni’s reading of the Caliban-Prospero power dynamic undermines Caliban’s legitimacy as a revolutionary.
The final response I consider re-imagines Caliban through a Francophone postcolonial lens – Caliban is given back his legitimacy, his revolutionary power, and his voice, which he uses to diminish Prospero: this diminishing of the mage, which began with Renan’s sequel, comes to fruition with Césaire.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12648


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