L’oeil du serpent : contes folkloriques japonais

L’oeil du serpent : Contes folkloriques japonais
Folio, 2010, environ 100 pages

Voilà un petit livre de l’épatante collection Folio 2€, que je recommande à toutes celles et ceux qui s’intéressent au folklore nippon, que ce soit par le biais des mangas/anime ou non.

Il s’agit d’un recueil de 21 contes, collectés oralement dans différentes régions du Japon, pour un recueil plus conséquent : De Serpents galants et d’autres (Gallimard, Connaissance de l’Orient, 1992). Les récits sont proposés tels quels, avec les mots et les tournures de leurs auteurs, par exemple « il me semble que ça s’est passé dans un village du canton de Mine » , ou bien « il était une fois une famille qui avait une fille comme vous » . Les noms des régions d’origine sont chaque fois donnés.

En lisant ces courts récits, directement retranscrits tels quels, j’ai vraiment eu une impression de récit brut, comme pouvaient me les raconter mes propres grand-mères, lorsque j’étais petit. Cela n’a rien de littéraire. L’effet est même assez drôle : des débuts sans la moindre introduction, genre « il était une fois une coiffeuse. » , et des fins en queue de poisson, comme : « il paraît que cette histoire se passa sur une plage du sud » , ou « il ne tarda pas à mourir » , point barre.

Très semblables les uns aux autres, ces contes sont des variations sur un même thème : des villageois crédules ou courageux aux prises avec des monstres, presque tous des serpents et probablement des yokai, habitant généralement des lacs, que les habitants du coin évitent. A la différence des contes européens, il n’y a pas de frontière nette entre le bien et le mal : les serpents ne sont pas forcément méchants, et s’ils pratiquent l’enlèvement des jeunes filles, c’est pour les épouser – ils ne dévorent leurs dulcinées que lorsqu’on les a trompés (ou à la rigueur, lorsqu’ils ont très très faim). Peut-on leur en vouloir? Ces contes n’ont apparemment aucune morale : pas de chevalier (pardon, de samouraï) pour sauver la princesse, pas non plus de vilains punis à la fin. En fait, ils en ont bien une, de morale, mais sous-jacente, et qui ne nous est pas familière. Le message est plus ou moins toujours le même : il ne faut pas manquer de respect aux esprits de la nature, et quand ils frappent à votre porte pour demander la main de votre fille, dites oui, tout ira bien. Et ne cherchez pas à savoir ce qui se passe après les noces, ni à voir vos petits-enfants : vous n’aimeriez pas ça.

Nure-onna

Le défaut de ce recueil est sa répétitivité, du moins en apparence. Les 21 contes étant à peu près similaires, à quelques détails près, la lecture peut vite être fastidieuse. Pour ma part, j’ai trouvé cela au contraire encore plus comique, en me demandant à chaque fois « non, ils vont quand même pas encore se faire avoir? » et pourtant si : en fait, les villageois sont souvent punis pour leur naïveté, leur entêtement, leur inattention, ou même pour leur penchant immodéré pour le saké. Bref, passez-moi l’expression, ils sont souvent un peu neuneus. Le serpent n’est pas toujours non plus très fin. Sauf que lui, généralement, il est plus fort…

Jiraya et Orochimaru

Faut-il insister sur le symbolisme sexuel ? Depuis les plus anciens mythes humains, d’Adam et Eve à la Vouivre, c’est plus qu’une évidence : un cliché. Quant aux amateurs de hentai, la forme serpentine leur est pour le moins familière. Encore que ce symbolisme soit très réducteur. Le serpent est également symbole de vie éternelle (Quetzalcoatl, Ouroboros), ou de puissance (l’Uraeus égyptien, le Naga hindouiste). Dans la mythologie japonaise, elle-même souvent héritée des chinois, les serpents sont un peu tout cela à la fois, et plus encore, qu’ils soient mâles ou femelles. Bien que dans l’Oeil du serpent, les contes soient bruts de décoffrage, sans commentaires ni introduction, je pense qu’on peut les rattacher au type yokai, à moins que certains ne soient des kami (dieux), je ne suis pas assez calé pour l’affirmer à 100%. Les légendes traditionnelles mettant en scène des serpents sont légion, et ce livre a eu le mérite de m’inciter à me renseigner, et de me faire découvrir les légendes de Kiyohime, de Nure-onna, d’Orochimaru et du Tsuchinoko. Sans parler de la légende chinoise de Bai Suzhen, qui a inspiré le célèbre anime le Serpent blanc, premier long-métrage d’animation en couleurs du Japon (Toei, 1958).

le Serpent blanc

Court, dru, drôle et absurde, l’Oeil du serpent est donc un court voyage initiatique dans l’imaginaire japonais, plus riche qu’il n’y paraît au premier abord, que l’on peut lire d’une traite ou bien picorer à ses moments perdus. A 2€, le prix d’un ticket de métro, il ne faut pas en attendre une odyssée, mais un dépaysement fugace, et c’est déjà beaucoup.

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97 Responses to L’oeil du serpent : contes folkloriques japonais

  1. Mackie says:

    ce qu’il y a de « bien » avec ce genre d’article, c’est que je suis à peu près sûr de ne pas avoir de commentaires à lire :-/

  2. Plumy says:

    Faut que j’arrête de me fier uniquement à sama pour voir tes posts, à chaque fois que je viens faire un tour ici j’en découvre que j’ai raté X3
    Voila un petit bouquin bien sympa que je me procurerais à l’occasion, j’ai d’autres trucs à lire avant ça, mais je l’ai mis dans ma wish list amazon (il avait même pas d’image, c’est moi qui y ait ajouté la couverture du coup XD)
    T’es tombé dessus comment au fait ?

    • Mackie says:

      ça fait plaisir de te lire ^^
      alors, mon libraire possède un présentoir des folio 2€, ça se vend bien ces petites choses-là.

      quant à l’agrégateur, chaque fois que c’est de la littérature, c’est relégué en filtré. tu dois pouvoir changer le filtre sama dans ton profil, en cochant la case en face de « chroniques d’un newbie ». si t’as envie, bien sûr.

  3. Pingback: Lafcadio Hearn, l’homme qui naquit deux fois | Les chroniques d'un newbie

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    votre post retrace tout à fait la teneur de ce petit recueil, merci.

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