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Les Flambeurs d’hommes

Les Flambeurs d’hommes

The Ethiopian Chronicles of Marcel Griaule

Chapter:
(p.151) Chapter Seven Les Flambeurs d’hommes
Source:
Far Afield
Author(s):
Vincent Debaene
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226107233.003.0008

Chapter 7 studies Marcel Griaule’s Les Flambeurs d’hommes, an opaque ethnographic text dealing with an imagined, archaic Ethiopia. It accounts for the oddities of this book, full of archaisms and written in the third person, by showing that it can be read as an attempt to solve the epistemological contradictions of anthropology at the time. In Les Flambeurs d’hommes Griaule undertakes the paradoxical project of inventing an evocative document, a text that communicates the “ways of feeling” of others but that cannot be suspected of dabbling in rhetoric or affectation, one that communicates an atmosphere but does so unintentionally and without realizing it. This distinction is drawn out by way of an extended comparison with Stendhal’s Chroniques italiennes, which is read as an evocative literary document bespeaking a knowledge project that is thoroughly anthropological. The comparative analysis of these two texts reveals the disparate practices of reading they prescribe as well as relationships to readerly publics that highlight the distinctions between traditional forms of cultural knowledge and the anthropology of the 1930s in France.

Keywords:   Marcel Griaule, Stendhal, Les Flambeurs d’hommes, Chroniques italiennes, Ethiopia, Evocative documents, Atmosphere, Rhetoric

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