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"Les figures du surnaturel dans la mythologie et le folklore irlandais"

Abstract : Our research consists of the semiotic analysis of Old-Irish texts and collected folklore that have narrative processes or figures in common. The result of this work will constantly be confronted to G. Dumézil's theory of the triple social division in indo-european myths. Having noted the constant process of /metamorphosis/ that characterizes the Otherworld's confrontation with human representatives, we then analyse the three componants of this narrative process: the containing shape (often an animal), its content in human form, the conditions of its occurence (time and space). The animal group divides into domestic and wild animals. The former associates those linked to "fertility" and "royalty" (cattle), those, the consumption of which is a transition between our world and the other (the pig); a second sub-groups gathers those linked to the configuration of "war" with a different attitude to space: the destructive horse that travels through both world to and fro, and the protective dog, who, like the warrior, guards the human perimeter against a hostile Otherworld. The latter (deer, hare and boar) lead warriors and hunters, by means of seduction or fight, to the place where the Otherworld meets the human realm (mounds, caves, hills). Then, the bird, similar to the sun (bright apearance) and linked to the water (its dwelling-place), travels through space and time (its music) to guide travellers who go and look for the Otherworld. His association to spacial "orientation" is a possible means of locating it. The second part, devoted to human-shaped figures, shows they can only be studied by means of an internal confrontation. Thus the female figure can either be related to /conjunction/ (configuration of "marriage" and "bereavement") with the king, or be linked to /disjunction/ since her role is also to sever man's ties with life to bring him to eternity. Male figures are best represented by the couple warrior- churl. Both are /opponents/, but the latter is also a /destinator/ of the "fight". Whereas the warrior is "bright", "fiery" and seeks recognition from his peers, the churl is dull, solitary, and his club symbolizes the transition between the two universe through death. The third part, dealing with time and space, show that both weather and time can be distorted, in an attempt to describe "eternity". Then, depending on whether the Otherworld is perceived as a place of death or as a sojourn full of endless pleasure and joy, we will oppose , within the configuration of the "feast" the figures of "bounty" vs "scarcity", and of "cauldron" vs "boat" and "horse". Time is seen as part of a hidden knowledge deliverd to man by means of "prophecy" and death (from the "club" to the " Druid wand"). Space, on the other hand,can be easily travelled through with the help of magic helpers from the Otherworld. Its distorsions (in size and aspect) show the impossibility of fixing a definite shape for what escapes such categories: thus it seems as if there were many Otherworlds (numerous meeting points) yet it is unique. Moreover, its changing aspect prooves that it conciliates the notions of an Otherworld as dwelling-place for the gods and as realm of the dead.
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Anne-Marie O'Connell. "Les figures du surnaturel dans la mythologie et le folklore irlandais". Linguistique. Université de Toulouse 2 Le Mirail, 1995. Français. ⟨tel-01323678⟩

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