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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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イメージ化の代償

 
先ほど記事にしたBen Zimmerのコラムは先週ケネディ政権を示すCamelotという言葉の経緯を紹介してくれていました。

WORD ON THE STREET: BEN ZIMMER
Jackie Started The Legend of JFK 'Camelot'

In the remembrances of John F. Kennedy's presidency this week as the 50th anniversary of his assassination passes, one word continues to resonate above all: Camelot.

The name of King Arthur's mythical court city has its roots in medieval romantic literature, but thanks to skillful media manipulation by Jacqueline Kennedy after her husband's death, "Camelot" remains a potent mythmaking metaphor for the Kennedy administration.



この語に関しては以前もブログで取り上げました。そのとき紹介した『アメリカ英語背景辞典』の説明です。

Camelot 「キャメロット」
ジョン・ケネディ John F. Kennedy (1917-63)が大統領に就任した1961年に、ブロードウェイではミュージカルCamelotが人気を呼んでいた。リチャード・バートン Richard Burton (1925-84)とジュリー・アンドリュース Julie Andrews (1935-)の主演であった。Camelotは中世伝説のアーサー王がその宮廷をおいた町の名である。理想主義に燃える若き大統領と魅力的な夫人の醸し出す新政権の雰囲気が、アーサー王の宮廷の華やかさと重なって、いつしか、ケネディ政権のことをCamelotと言うようになった。

暗殺直後の大統領夫人のインタビューを載せた雑誌Lifeの記事を目を通しておくと次の記事もイメージがしやすくなると思います。

Zimmerさんの記事で触れられていたJames Peresonさんの記事が大変興味深かったのでご紹介します。この言葉がつかわれる経緯と、Camelotのイメージ化の成功と代償は言葉を学び、使おうとしているものにとって考えさせられます。

How Jackie Kennedy Invented the Camelot Legend After JFK’s Death
James PieresonBy James PieresonNovember 12th 20135:45 AM
More Stories by James Piereson

Few events in the postwar era have cast such a long shadow over our national life as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy fifty years ago this month. The murder of a handsome and vigorous president shocked the nation to its core and shook the faith of many Americans in their institutions and way of life.

Those who were living at the time would never forget the moving scenes associated with President Kennedy’s death: the Zapruder film depicting the assassination in a frame-by-frame sequence; the courageous widow arriving with the coffin at Andrews Air Force Base still wearing her bloodstained dress; the throng of mourners lined up for blocks outside the Capitol to pay respects to the fallen president; the accused assassin gunned down two days later while in police custody and in full view of a national television audience; the little boy saluting the coffin of his slain father; the somber march to Arlington National Cemetery; the eternal flame affixed to the gravesite. These scenes were repeated endlessly on television at the time and then reproduced in popular magazines and, still later, in documentary films. They came to be viewed as defining events of the era.
In their grief, Americans were inclined to take to heart the various myths and legends that grew up around President Kennedy within days of the assassination. Though the assassin was a communist and an admirer of Fidel Castro, many insisted that President Kennedy was a martyr to the cause of civil rights who deserved a place of honor next to Abraham Lincoln as a champion of racial justice. Others held him up as a great statesman who labored for international peace.

アメリカ人がケネディ暗殺で浮かべるイメージを紹介してくれていますが、Camelotという言葉は先ほどご紹介した暗殺後に出たLifeで大統領夫人が語った言葉が最初で、当初Life編集部はセンチメンタル過ぎるからと掲載を渋ったようです。

In that interview Mrs. Kennedy pressed upon White the Camelot image that would prove so influential in shaping the public memory of JFK and his administration. President Kennedy, she told the journalist, was especially fond of the music from the popular Broadway musical, Camelot, the lyrics of which were the work of Alan Jay Lerner, JFK’s classmate at Harvard. The musical, which featured Richard Burton as Arthur, Julie Andrews as Guinevere, and Robert Goulet as Lancelot, had a successful run on Broadway from 1960 to 1963. According to Mrs. Kennedy, the couple enjoyed listening to a recording of the title song before going to bed at night. JFK was especially fond of the concluding couplet: “Don’t ever let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was Camelot.” President Kennedy, she said, was strongly attracted to the Camelot legend because he was an idealist who saw history as something made by heroes like King Arthur (a claim White knew to be untrue). “There will be great presidents again,” she told White, “but there will never be another Camelot.” In this way, and to her credit, Mrs. Kennedy sought to attach a morally uplifting message to one of the more ugly events in American history.

Following the interview, White retreated to a guest room in the Kennedy mansion to review his notes and compose a draft of the essay. His editors were at this hour (late on a Saturday evening) holding the presses open at great expense while waiting to receive his copy over the telephone. When White later phoned his editors to dictate his text (with Mrs. Kennedy standing nearby), he was surprised by their reaction for they initially rejected the Camelot references as sentimental and inappropriate to the occasion. Mrs. Kennedy, interpreting the gist of the exchange, signaled to White that Camelot must be kept in the text. The editors quickly relented. White later wrote that he regretted the role he played in transmitting the Camelot myth to the public.

Camelotのイメージ化に成功した代償についてはThe images she advanced had a double effect: first, to establish Kennedy as a transcendent political figure far superior to any contemporary rival; and, second, to highlight what the nation had lost when he was killedと語っています。このイメージは我々日本人が抱くイメージそのものですよね。

But the Camelot image as applied to the Kennedy presidency had some unfortunate and unforeseen consequences. By turning President Kennedy into a liberal idealist (which he was not) and a near legendary figure, Mrs. Kennedy inadvertently contributed to the unwinding of the tradition of American liberalism that her husband represented in life. The images she advanced had a double effect: first, to establish Kennedy as a transcendent political figure far superior to any contemporary rival; and, second, to highlight what the nation had lost when he was killed. The two elements were mirror images of one another. The Camelot myth magnified the sense of loss felt as a consequence of Kennedy’s death and the dashing of liberal hopes and possibilities. If one accepted the image (and many did, despite their better judgment), then the best of times were now in the past and could not be recovered. Life would go on but the future could never match the magical chapter that had been brought to an unnatural end. As Mrs. Kennedy said, “there will never be another Camelot.”

どうでもいいですが、Camelotというアーサー王のドラマが最近あったんですね。あまり評判になりませんでしたが。。。


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