FRIENDSHIP PUT TO THE TEST OF PRETENCES: A RHETORICAL INTERPRETATION OF AN EXCERPT FROM GIDE’S COUNTERFEITERS
Gide’s Counterfeiters are not only those who circulate false coins; they are also those who cannot help cheating with discourses and friendship. The fragment ‘After the exam / the bac’ (III, 5) articulates those different levels in an original way, which can be described in rhetorical terms. As pupils, Bernard and Olivier are supposed to write a spontaneous essay but, at the same time, they must conform to the jury’s expectations(level1: [pseudo] rational argumentation on values). Therefore, as soon as the youngsters escape from the teacher’s reach, they turn to their schoolfellows unashamedly boasting on their strategies to escape the double bind imposed by the school system (level2: strategical meta-argumentation). But the intellectual and moral disagreement almost leads to a quarrel between friends (level3: rhetoric as a negotiation on emotions and on the distance between individuals). If the two first levels can be contemplated through Perelman’s system, the third one should rely on a broader definition of rhetoric (e.g. Plantin and Meyer).