DOI link for Towards Modernity
Towards Modernity book
Jean-François Poisson-Gueffier steps back into the twentieth century with Chapter 14, “Towards Modernity: Nova et vetera in Paul Claudel’s Book of Christopher Colombus”. This novel, which puts on the dramatic scene the eponymous character contemplating the representation of his life, comprises allusive yet determining references to the medieval literature and civilisation: The mention of Saint Brendan, the presence of allegorical squares, and an inquiry related to the symbolic meanings of names.
If these elements are not considered as indifferent ornaments but as signs, their range light the Book and confer it another dimension. The way Claudel inserts these signs in the language and the dramatic action, along with the symbolic system that they carry, gear down the value and direction granted to the Book, Life, and Travels of Christopher Colombus. The discovery of the New World becomes a meeting of the Earth under the sign of Christendom and opens new scenic horizons.
Paul Claudel has designed a dramatic space as new as primitive America, uniting in the same gesture nova and vetera, the medieval material and the innovations of the modern drama. This chapter thus aims at presenting the paradox of medieval references thought of as absolutely modern and opens prospects for the question of memory of works and polyphony.