translating “tout est pardonné”
Our BLT post “tout est pardonné” is generating lots of readers, which normally we are just fine with. Some English readers are finding it by searching for “translation of ‘tout est pardonné’” and expecting to learn what the French of the cover of the most recent issue of Charlie Hebdo must surely mean.
What it means, literally, as we say, is “all is pardoned.” What it signifies, figurally, however, is not that at all. Rather, with the apparent intent to flaunt and to draw charges of “blasphemy” from those who cheered on the crime of killing 12 persons in Paris, the phrase, satirical and ironic, actually means meanness: “Not anything is forgiven after all.” The crime of murder is matched by the sin of desacralization. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. Death for Death. The stuff more safely in Theatre. Which brings me to the purpose of this post. I’d like to recall a few paragraphs by Hélène Cixous. This is from her essay “Le lieu du Crime, le lieu du Pardon” (or “The Place of Crime, The Place of Forgiveness” as translated into English by Catherine A. F. MacGillivray):