• : Libellus
  • Libellus
  • : Un bloc-notes sur la toile. * Lou, fils naturel de Cléo, est né le 21 mai 2002 († 30 avril 2004).


l'heure à Lushan

France + 7 heures


pour mémoire



Uncontacted tribes


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10 octobre 2013 4 10 /10 /octobre /2013 23:01


Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more : it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, V, 5


La vie n'est qu'un fantôme errant, un pauvre comédien

qui se pavane et s'agite durant son heure sur la scène

et qu'ensuite on n'entend plus ; c'est une histoire

dite par un idiot, pleine de fracas et de furie,

et qui ne signifie rien…

trad. François-Victor Hugo


John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, 1937, Pearson/Longman, 2000


John Steinbeck, Des souris et des hommes   John Steinbeck, Des souris et des hommes cover

John Steinbeck, Des souris et des hommes, trad. Maurice-Edgar Coindreau, 1955, Gallimard, Folio, 2011 – édition à tirage limité, volume sous coffret avec marque-page magnétique


John Steinbeck, 1929

John Steinbeck, Salinas Masonic Temple Archives, ca 1929 *


Le titre du roman rappelle un poème, de Robert Burns, écrit en Scots leid, To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, 1785 ** – selon la légende, Robert Burns aurait trouvé un nid de souris en plein hiver.


The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley


Transcription en anglais classique :

The best laid schemes of mice and men

Go often awry


Les meilleurs projets des souris et des hommes tournent souvent mal


L'histoire évoque celle de Moosbrugger, le tueur d'une prostituée : on ne sait s'il est fou ou si c'est le monde qui est perverti.


C'était nettement de la folie, et tout aussi nettement pourtant une simple déformation des rapports qui unissent les éléments de notre propre nature. C'était démantelé, enténébré : Ulrich pensa néanmoins, Dieu sait comment, que l'humanité, si elle pouvait avoir des rêves collectifs, rêverait Moosbrugger.

Robert Musil, L'Homme sans qualités, 1930



Gary Sinise, Mark Isham, Des souris et des hommes, Weed, 1992




A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside

bank and runs deep and green.


Manuel Valencia (USA, 1856-1935), Salinas Valley, huile sur

Manuel Valencia (USA, 1856-1935), Salinas Valley, huile sur toile


Salinas Valley - 1


Salinas Valley - 2


Salinas Valley - 3

Salinas Valley


California, Salinas, Weed

Californie – carte situant Weed, au nord, et Salinas Valley, au centre


George Milton, un petit homme aux yeux noirs qui ne se repose jamais, et Lennie Small, un géant aux yeux clairs, un simple d'esprit, font la route ensemble, de ranch en ranch. Ils espèrent se faire un petit pécule pour acheter une ferme, où Lennie pourra élever des lapins, mais dans la vallée de la Salinas, leurs rêves, comme les projets des souris et des hommes, tournent mal.


Jeudi, sous le soleil. George et Lennie font halte près de la Salinas, à quelques miles au sud de Soledad, avant de rejoindre, le lendemain, le ranch où ils ont trouvé un nouvel emploi.


'Lennie!' he said sharply. 'Lennie, for God' sakes don't drink so much.' Lennie continued to snort into the pool. The small man leaned over and shook him by the shoulder. 'Lennie. You gonna be sick like you was last night.'

Lennie dipped his whole head under, hat and all, and then he sat up on the bank and his hat dripped down on his blue coat and ran down his back. 'That's good,' he said. 'You drink some, George. You take a good big drink.' He smiled happily.



Yeah, what ya want ?

Where we goin', George ?

So you forgot that awready, did you ?'

'I remember about the rabbits, George.

The hell with the rabbits. That's all you ever can remember is them rabbits.


George looked sharply at him. 'What'd you take outa that pocket ?'

'Ain't a thing in my pocket,' Lennie said cleverly.

'I know there ain't. You got it in your hand. What you got in your hand – hidin' it ?'

'I ain't got nothin', George. Honest.'

'Come on, give it here.'

Lennie held his closed hand away from George's direction. 'It's on'y a mouse, George.'

'A mouse ? A live mouse ?'

'Uh-uh. Jus' a dead mouse, George. I didn't kill it. Honest! I found it. I found it dead.'

'Give it here!' said George.

'Aw, leave me have it, George.'

'Give it here !'


'I could pet it with my thumb while we walked along, said Lennie.

'Well, you ain't petting no mice while you walk with me. You remember where we're goin' now ?

Lennie looked startled and then in embarrassment hid his face against his knees. 'I forgot again.

'Jesus Christ, George said resignedly. 'Well – look, we're gonna work on a ranch like the one we come from up north.

'Up north ?

'In Weed.'

'Now when we go in to see the boss, what you gonna do ?'

'I... I...' Lennie thought. His face grew tight with thought. 'I... ain't gonna say nothin'. Jus' gonna stan' there.'

'Good boy. That's swell. You say that over two, three times so you sure won't forget it.'


'You go get wood. An' don't you fool around.'

It'll be dark before long.'


In a moment Lennie came crashing back through the brush. He carried one small willow stick in his hand. George sat up. 'Awright,' he said brusquely.

'Gi'me that mouse!'


'I don't know why I can't keep it. It ain't nobody's mouse. I didn't steal it. I found it lyin' right beside the road.'


'I wasn't doin' nothing bad with it, George. Jus' strokin' it.'


'God a'mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. ... An' whatta I got,' George went on furiously. 'I got you ! ... You do bad things and I got to get you out.' ... 'Jus' wanted to feel that girl's dress – jus' wanted to pet it like it was a mouse.'


'If you don' want me I can go off in the hills an' find a cave. I can go away any time.'


Lennie spoke craftily, 'Tell me – like you done before.'

'Tell you what?'

'About the rabbits.'


'Well,' said George, 'we'll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch

and chickens.'

'When we get the coupla acres I can let you tend the rabbits all right.'


The sycamore leaves whispered in a little night breeze.


* * *




The bunk house was a long, rectangular building. Inside, the walls were whitewashed and the floor unpainted. In three walls there were small, square windows, and in the fourth, a solid door with a wooden latch. Against the walls were eight bunks, five of them made up with blankets and the other three showing their burlap ticking. Over each bunk there was nailed an apple box with the opening forward so that it made two shelves for the personal belongings of the occupant of the bunk. And these shelves were loaded with little articles, soap and talcum powder, razors and those Western magazines ranch men love to read and scoff at and secretly believe.


Après cette description anatomique, se présentent de nouveaux personnages :

Candy, un vieil homme à tout faire, Whitey, le précédent occupant d'une paillasse, un homme très propre, le Boss, le propriétaire du ranch, Crooks, un palefrenier noir un peu cassé, Smitty, un roulier, Curley, le fils du Boss, un méchant, Slim, un conducteur de mules, Carlson, un ouvrier agricole, et la femme de Curley, une pute.


Vendredi matin, au baraquement. George et Lennie sont engagés pour engranger l'orge. Curley cherche à provoquer Lennie. Candy apprend à George que la femme de Curley est une pute. Ils font la connaissance de Slim et de Carlson. Lennie veut un des chiots de Lulu, la chienne de Slim.


George ... looked into the box shelf and then picked a small yellow can from it. 'Say. What the hell's this ?'

'I don't know,' said the old man.

'Says "positively kills lice, roaches and other scourges." What the hell kind of bed you giving us, anyways. We don't want no pants rabbits.'

[Nous n'avons pas envie d'attraper des morpions.]

The old swamper shifted his broom and held it between his elbow and his side while he held out his hand for the can. He studied the label carefully. 'Tell you what – ' he said finally, 'last guy that had this bed was a blacksmith – hell of a nice fella and as clean a guy as you want to meet.'

'That's the kinda guy he was – clean.'


The boss said suddenly, 'Listen, Small !' Lennie raised his head. 'What can you do ?'

In a panic, Lennie looked at George for help. 'He can do anything you tell him,' said George. 'He's a good skinner. He can rassel grain bags, drive a cultivator. He can do anything. Just give him a try.'

The boss turned on George. 'Then why don't you let him answer ?'

George said, 'He's my . . . . cousin. I told his old lady I'd take care of him. He got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid. He's awright. Just ain't bright. But he can do anything you tell him.'


[George, parlant de Curley] 'What's he got against Lennie ?'

The swamper considered... 'Well... tell you what. Curley's like a lot of little guys. He hates big guys.


George cut the cards and began turning them over, looking at each one and throwing it down on a pile. He said, 'This guy Curley sounds like a son-of-a-bitch to me. I don't like mean little guys.'

'Seems to me like he's worse lately,' said the swamper. 'He got married a couple of weeks ago. Wife lives over in the boss's house. Seems like Curley is cockier'n ever since he got married.'


George … 'But what ?'

'Well – she got the eye.'

[Ben... elle a pas froid aux yeux.]

'Yeah ? Married two weeks and got the eye ? Maybe that's why Curley's pants is full of ants.'

'I seen her give Slim the eye.'


The swamper stood up from his box. 'Know what I think ?' George did not answer. 'Well, I think Curley's married... a tart.'


[George] 'She's a rattrap.'


Slim looked through George and beyond him. 'Ain't many guys travel around together,' he mused. 'I don't know why. Maybe ever'body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.' ***





Entrent en scène :

Whit, un jeune ouvrier agricole, Bill Tenner, qui auparavant cultivait des pois au ranch, Susy, une maquerelle généreuse, Clara, une tenancière qui craint.


Vendredi soir. Georges confie à Slim la raison pour laquelle Lennie et lui ont dû fuir Weed.


'What'd he do in Weed ?' Slim asked calmly.

'Well, he seen this girl in a red dress. Dumb bastard like he is, he wants to touch ever'thing he likes. Just wants to feel it. So he reaches out to feel this red dress an' the girl lets out a squawk …

'Well, that girl rabbits in an' tells the law she been raped. The guys in Weed start a party out to lynch Lennie.


Lennie obtient son chiot. Carlson tue le vieux chien moribond de Candy avec son Luger. Dans la grange, Slim soigne un cheval. On cherche Curley, Curley cherche sa femme. Candy apporte ses 350 dollars au rêve de George et Lennie. Curley arrive et s'en prend à Lennie, il le frappe jusqu'à ce que George lui dise de se battre : Lennie écrase la main de Curley. Slim ordonne à Curley de dire qu'il s'est fait prendre dans une machine, pour éviter le ridicule de sa défaite.


'George, how long's it gonna be till we get that little place an' live on the fatta the lan' – an' rabbits ?'

'I don't know', said George.

Lennie said, 'Tell about that place, George.'

'I jus' tol' you, jus' las' night.'

'Go on—tell again, George.'

'Well, it's ten acres,' said George. 'Got a little win'mill. Got a little shack on it, an' a chicken run. Got a kitchen, orchard, cherries, apples, peaches, ‘cots, nuts, got a few berries. They's a place for alfalfa and plenty water to flood it.

They's a pig pen –'

'An' rabbits, George.'


Curley whirled on Carlson. 'You keep outa this les' you wanta step outside.'

Carlson laughed. 'You God damn punk,' he said. 'You tried to throw a scare into Slim, an' you couldn't make it stick. Slim throwed a scare into you. You're yella as a frog belly. I don't care if you're the best welter in the country. You come for me, an' I'll kick your God damn head off.'

Lennie was still smiling with delight at the memory of the ranch.

Curley stepped over to Lennie like a terrier. 'What the hell you laughin' at ?'

Lennie looked blankly at him. 'Huh ?'

Then Curley's rage exploded. 'Come on, ya big bastard. Get up on your feet.

No big son-of-a-bitch is gonna laugh at me. I'll show ya who's yella.'

George was on his feet yelling, 'Get him, Lennie. Don't let him do it.'

George yelled again, 'I said get him.'

Curley's fist was swinging when Lennie reached for it. The next minute Curley was flopping like a fish on a line, and his closed fist was lost in Lennie's big hand.

Curley sat down on the floor, looking in wonder at his crushed hand.

George said, 'Slim, will we get canned now ? We need the stake. Will Curley's old man can us now ?'

Slim smiled wryly. He knelt down beside Curley. 'You got your senses in hand enough to listen ?' he asked. Curley nodded. 'Well, then listen,' Slim went on. 'I think you got your han' caught in a machine.'


'George ?'

'What you want ?'

'I can still tend the rabbits, George ?'

'Sure. You ain’t done nothing wrong.'

'I di’n’t mean no harm, George.'





Samedi soir, chez Crooks. Candy rejoint Crooks et Lennie, il parle de leurs rêves. La femme de Curley survient, avec sa haine et son fiel. Elle sait que Lennie est la machine qui a broyé la main de Curley. Elle menace Crooks. George revient de la ville.


'All the boys gone into town, huh ?'

'All but old Candy. He just sets in the bunk house sharpening his pencil and sharpening and figuring.'

Crooks adjusted his glasses. 'Figuring? What’s Candy figuring about ?'

Lennie almost shouted, '’Bout the rabbits.'

'You’re nuts,' said Crooks. 'You’re crazy as a wedge. What rabbits you talkin’ about ?'

'The rabbits we’re gonna get, and I get to tend ‘em, cut grass an’ give ‘em water, an’ like that.'

'You’re nuts.'


'Any you boys seen Curley ?'

They swung their heads toward the door. Looking in was Curley’s wife.

Crooks stood up from his bunk and faced her. 'I had enough,' he said coldly.

'You got no rights comin' in a colored man's room.'

She turned on him in scorn. 'Listen, Nigger,' she said. 'You know what I can do to you if you open your trap ?'

'Yes, ma’am.'

'Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung upon a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.'

Candy said, 'That bitch didn’t ought to of said that to you.'




Dimanche après-midi. Dehors, on joue au fer à cheval. Dans la grange, Lennie caresse son chiot jusqu'à la mort. La femme de Curley le surprend. Lennie lui dit son goût des choses douces et elle l'invite à sentir ses cheveux sous sa main... Lennie s'empare du Luger de Carlson et s'enfuit. Whit part chercher Al Wilt, le sheriff. La battue s'organise.


Only Lennie was in the barn.

Curley's wife came around the end of the last stall.

Lennie said, 'Well, I ain't supposed to talk to you or nothing.'

Curley's wife moved away from him a little. 'I think you're nuts,' she said.

'No I ain't,' Lennie explained earnestly. 'George says I ain't. I like to pet nice things with my fingers, sof' things.'

She took Lennie's hand and put it on her head. 'Feel right aroun' there an' see how soft it is.'




Lennie se réfugie dans le bois près de la rivière, il entend la voix de sa tante aujourd'hui morte. George le retrouve avant les autres. Il ne les laissera pas lui faire du mal.


John Steinbeck, Gary Sinise, Des souris et des hommes

Gary Sinise, Des souris et des hommes, 1992


Gary Sinise, Des souris et des hommes, George et Lennie-1


Gary Sinise, Des souris et des hommes, George et Lennie-2

Gary Sinise, Des souris et des hommes, George et Lennie (Gary Sinise, John Malkovich)



Gary Sinise, Mark Isham, Des souris et des hommes, George et Lennie, 1992


Slim twitched George's elbow. 'Come on, George. Me an' you'll go in an' get a drink.'


Le titre donne le ton du livre : un bestiaire où la femme est une souris (mouse), où elle est associée aux lapins (rabbits), bien connus pour leur ardeur amoureuse et leur malice à se glisser dans les caleçons (pants rabbits = morpions, également connus sous le sobriquet de graybacks), à la chienne (bitch = putain), à l'oiselle (Lennie en fuite, section Six : When a little bird skittered over the dry leaves behind him, his head jerked up).

George invente une histoire : Lennie aurait reçu un coup de pied d'un cheval ('He got kicked in the head by a horse when he was a kid.') a kick, in slang, is a strong feeling of excitement, pleasure etc. : He gets some kind of a kick out of making her suffer (= une sensation de plaisir : Il prend son pied en la faisant souffrir).

Curley a des fourmis dans le calcif ('Curley's pants is full of ants.').

Il y a même une grenouille couarde : 'You’re yella as a frog belly'.

La femme est un piège à rat ('she's a rattrap'), L'Ecclésiaste l'a dit :

Et je trouve plus amère que la mort, la femme, car elle est un piège, son cœur un filet, et ses bras des chaînes.

Ec, 7, 26


Pauvre chiot (puppy) ! La femme de Curley (le seul personnage qui n'ait pas de nom) le dit : 'He was jus' a mutt.' un bâtard, comme Lennie.


- - -




Steinbeck's Master Mason certificate

* John Steinbeck's Master Mason certificate, Salinas Masonic Temple Archives


* * *


** Robert Burns, To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough


Burns original

Standard English translation

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,

O, what a panic's in thy breastie!

Thou need na start awa sae hasty

Wi bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,

Wi' murdering pattle.


I'm truly sorry man's dominion

Has broken Nature's social union,

An' justifies that ill opinion

Which makes thee startle

At me, thy poor, earth born companion

An' fellow mortal!


I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;

What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!

A daimen icker in a thrave

'S a sma' request;

I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,

An' never miss't.


Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!

It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!

An' naething, now, to big a new ane,

O' foggage green!

An' bleak December's win's ensuin,

Baith snell an' keen!


Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,

An' weary winter comin fast,

An' cozie here, beneath the blast,

Thou thought to dwell,

Till crash! the cruel coulter past

Out thro' thy cell.


That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,

Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!

Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,

But house or hald,

To thole the winter's sleety dribble,

An' cranreuch cauld.


But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promis'd joy!


Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!

The present only toucheth thee:

But och! I backward cast my e'e,

On prospects drear!

An' forward, tho' I canna see,

I guess an' fear!

Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,

O, what a panic is in your little breast!

You need not start away so hasty

With argumentative chatter!

I would be loath to run and chase you,

With murdering plough-staff.


I'm truly sorry man's dominion

Has broken Nature's social union,

And justifies that ill opinion

Which makes you startle

At me, your poor, earth born companion

And fellow mortal!


I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;

What then? Poor little beast, you must live!

An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves

Is a small request;

I will get a blessing with what is left,

And never miss it.


Your small house, too, in ruin!

Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!

And nothing now, to build a new one,

Of coarse grass green!

And bleak December's winds coming,

Both bitter and keen!


You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,

And weary winter coming fast,

And cozy here, beneath the blast,

You thought to dwell,

Till crash! the cruel plough passed

Out through your cell.


That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,

Has cost you many a weary nibble!

Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,

Without house or holding,

To endure the winter's sleety dribble,

And hoar-frost cold.


But little Mouse, you are not alone,

In proving foresight may be vain:

The best laid schemes of mice and men

Go often awry,

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

For promised joy!


Still you are blessed, compared with me!

The present only touches you:

But oh! I backward cast my eye,

On prospects dreary!

And forward, though I cannot see,

I guess and fear!


* * *


Les gens épouvantés

Fuient le mal qui est en eux

Quand vous en croisez un dans le désert

Il trouve encore moyen de détourner les yeux

Car son frère lui fait peur

Il a honte de son frère

Alors il se précipite en pleurant

Dans les bras du premier Colonel Papa venu

Qui lui jure la guerre

Qui lui promet torture et prison

Pour celui qui a fait à son rejeton

L'affront d'un regard

L'affront d'un regard d'amour


Alertez les bébés !

Alertez les bébés !


*** Jacques Higelin, Alertez les bébés !, 1976


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des pas perdus 13/10/2013 16:09

Un grand roman que je devrais relire. Sur la dèche et dans un autre registre, j'aime aussi Caldwell.

Lou de Libellus 13/10/2013 18:42


Il y a bien une parenté entre eux.



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