He raises his eyes to the face of the young man who is slitting his throat. He looks at him. He is overwhelmed by his features. He contemplates him.
He does not cry out. Curiously, he thinks of an engraving on wood by Jan Heemkers, who was his master in Bruges. The engraver must have left Rome at the end of Or in autumn This point is uncertain.
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The positioning of the breaks is likewise used for emphasis. Stein , sometimes leaving us uncertainly in-between. It was there that Albucius saw them for the first time. He was eleven, and that is probably why he never stopped talking about them. And three years later he saw his first rhinoceros: brought back by Caesar himself.
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Cicero in mourning clothes is chased through the streets of Rome by gangs of thugs paid by Clodius. They yell and punch. They intend to avenge the men who served Catilina, whom Cicero had put to death. Cicero is wounded by stones and covered by bucketfuls of human excrement poured over him. Cicero leaves Rome. The Helvetii leave Switzerland en masse with a plan to set up along the Bay of Biscay.
Cicero washes in a great grey stone basin. For contextualizing narratives, the accounts of Caesar and Cicero are themselves remarkably lacking in context. It is not simply that Quignard assumes knowledge of Roman history in his reader: sporadic details sketch in the essentials for informed and uninformed readers, while offering to both a presentation in medias res which disorientates through its impression of a missing preamble.
There is further disorientation in manner Quignard alternates the two narratives. What is most jarring, however, is the juxtaposition of great and small events, intimate and perhaps fictional details with the movements of history. Later he added to the sordidissima pets, adultery, food, the death of loved ones, gardens. I have huge respect for forbidden book deposits, Scheols, second-hand goods shops and other storehouses. Loggin recommends asyndeton, anaphora, all the broken connections the rhetor has at his disposal. The naked disorder of language disorders the searching thought, while conjunctions fetter momentum or drain away the jet of air.
Les cafés littéraires
Asyndeton and anaphora — the suppression of conjunctions, articles or pronouns and repeated phrases of the type we saw earlier with pietas and castitas — are commonplaces of his argument. Neither the heterogeneous lists of Albucius, nor the fragmented sentence structures advocated here, are specifically narrative modes of fragmentation, however, but it is not difficult to find related rhetorical devices within narrative discourse.
Elle le faisait [imperfect] avec application. Then she put her head on her hands. She dreams. She dreamed. The following lines from Tous les matins du monde, for instance, may not be fragmented in the sense that the sliced-up stories of Caesar and Cicero were in Albucius, but the absence of liaison increases the onus on the reader to infer narrative flow from the terse, self-contained sentences Quignard lays out: When he arrived for his second lesson, it was slender, pink-cheeked Madeleine who opened the entrance gate.
As she lifted her arms, her breasts squeezed and swelled. It was a beautiful spring day. There were primroses and there were butterflies. Marin Marais carried his viol on his shoulder.
French Renaissance literature
The breaking wave borrows from the sun a hasty part of its brightness. Death too snatches quickly away and gives nothing back. Quignard claims to have written the essay in an attempt to understand his own mixed feelings towards fragmentary writing. The inability to create an object to be read continuously ought perhaps to be presented in the form of a problem. One should also highlight the lack of satisfaction, both in respect to thought and in respect to beauty, where these scraps and tatters give out.
The level of fragmentation within and between discourses varies greatly, from the smooth chronologies of the contemporary novels at one end of the scale to the disorienting medley of Les Ombres errantes at the other. Within a single text, too, there are competing forces of cohesion and disjunction. Each of our lives is a continent that only a narrative can land on. I am not a third of what goes on at that moment. With the additional tightening of morphological possibilities introduced by the nouveau roman, it has today resulted in total academicism. Extraordinarily ageneric.
Like any narrative, this one risks setting up a post hoc illusion: the disappearance and re-emergence of storytelling might be viewed as a linear series of cause and effect, a dialectic of reacting generations of French writers with no outside explanations required. I admire utterly what Montaigne, Rousseau, Stendhal, Bataille tried to do. They mixed thought, life, fiction, knowledge, as if they were a single body. As much as any current author in French, Quignard is a global author, and his work is a part of world literature. The mixed genres of his work also trouble a narrative that would set him in the lineage of literary fiction alone.
Quignard was a poet and essayist before he was a novelist, and throughout his career the essayist has remained at least in parity with the storyteller in his output. An alternative story might easily be constructed of the twentieth-century French essayist, with Quignard alongside Barthes, Kristeva and other theorists who come, in the later part of the twentieth century, to increasingly temper their reflection with narrative.
My hope is that it will no longer be possible to untangle fiction and thought. Like Quignard, Zhuangzi juxtaposes fragments of narrative — anecdotes of self and others, fables and conversations — with fragments of argumentation, the pieces linked by a common theme but not embedded within a coherent argument, leaving the reader to draw connections and divine meaning. And like Quignard, Zhuangzi is fascinated by language, but holds it as ultimately inadequate to express the mystical truths he aims towards. For both writers, the gaps between fragments and the shifting between discourses are a form of aporia, designating to the reader an epistemological space beyond their words, into which their writing cannot directly penetrate.
The sometimes incompatible addressivities of his mingled discourses can leave readers bewildered. Quignard evidently wishes his readers to do all of these things, to adapt our reading to the occasion, and to discover unfamiliar ways of reading in the clashes and combinations. Yet this is not a methodical deconstruction of storytelling conventions as we find among the experimenters of the previous generation. The aesthetic of fragmentation which we have seen in his syntax, in his narrative, and in his combination of narrative with other discourses, is also present at the level of his oeuvre as a whole, the component parts of which refuse to be rationalized into a unified response to the question of literary form.
Espaces d’Abraxas, les portes du temps
In this short time, however, she has established herself as a significant voice in European literature. The third novel, Le Mal de mer, has an impersonal narrating voice from outside the story which focalizes each of the characters in turn. Pronoun usage, however, slips between first and third person as the presence of an external narrator makes itself known amid the mental discourse of the characters themselves. Lastly, Le Pays uses typefaces to clearly demarcate its first- and third-person narratives, both of which are focalized through the same character, a situation made more complex by the suggestion that both of these voices may belong to its writer-protagonist as author of the text.
Tom est mort to some extent renounces these complexities, with its autodiegetic narrator writing the past to find peace in the present, but the figure of her husband as reader-in-the-text, critiquing the narrative and influencing its development, demonstrates a continuing interest in issues of voice and perspective. In the opening paragraph of the novel, the mother of the family is alone in her garden: She cuts off a nice rose, only two petals have arched out from the bud, it is not yet a bloom, two petals half-open.
She is grateful to someone or something she does not know, she gives thanks, for the reprieve of the morning, the flow of her breathing, the enormous, liquid thing that is happiness. In the second extract, daughter Jeanne considers a possible pregnancy. You ought to feel it straight away.
Sitting on the terrace of the Biela waiting for Jimena. This used to be what, a bike shop. The finest bicycles in Buenos Aires. She, mum, feeling claustrophobic, staying outside.
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The three of us, Pierre John and me, why am I thinking about this, where was Anne? I remember. Let us first look at what the writer herself has to say on the matter. Darrieussecq has frequently spoken in interviews about the topic: If you pay attention, not to what you are thinking, but to the form your thought takes, you notice — these are obvious things but we are always forgetting them — that you rarely make complete subject—verb—complement sentences.
There are bits of dreams, a fantasy, a memory, songs. The second is the suggestion, in the reference to dreams, fantasies, memory and songs, that the inner monologue alone is not adequate to represent the full variety of mental events which comprise our consciousness. Also to be rendered are the other contents of the mind: the images and sounds which are remembered or perceived, the emotions, sensations or sexuality which impinge on our awareness. You have images, memories, a snatch of music passing through, a vague concept. How can that be put on paper?
We also see, in her enumeration of mental events, not only the non-linguistic thought mentioned above, but also, implicitly, thought which is pre-linguistic: vague, unformulated ideas which have potential to be expressed through language, but which remain in a state of latency, neither words nor images. Lastly, we see in the reference to neurology that Darrieussecq is interested in the mind as the product of the biological functioning of the brain, rather than as an abstract, immaterial entity.
My neurons went back into place. Darrieussecq goes further, incorporating the mind not only in the brain, but in the body more generally. The cogs of my hips, knees, ankles, worked to their utmost, the pistons of my arms pumped, the air coated the depths of my lungs in great jets. The fluids circulated, scrubbing me clean, relieving my tiredness. Oxygen irradiated me, my brain breathed.
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