Return to the Translate This Book! Table of Contents
Download Translate This Book! as a PDF
Buy Translate This Book! as a Physical Book
If you were to ask a French reader Who’s your literature’s best kept secret?, if said reader had any sense, he would reply Pierre Senges. Fragments de Lichtenberg, Senges’ latest novel, was hands-down 2008′s most fascinating book, and quite probably the best French fiction of the first decade of this century. What if the over 8,000 aphorisms written by German scientist and writer Georg Lichtenberg were actually the pieces of a lost novel? This idea puts in motion a fantastic piece of writing in which a group of scholars creates, with Alfred Nobel’s money, a society dedicated to finding out the novel that hides behind the fragments. To each time its version: romantic, modernist, allegory of the camps, or postmodernist (the Fragments as a hilarious story of Snow White’s eighth dwarf). The parts given over to reconstruction are placed beside examinations of Lichtenberg’s and Goethe’s lives in a sort of weird hall of mirrors populated by links between the society and world events, the whole thing contaminated by digressions of all kinds in what may very well be Senges’ own take on the Situationist concept of the Dérives. This is no mere literary game: what hides behind all this is a deep observation of the links between one’s age and one’s culture; a subtle reflection on the construction of canon, schools, and literary cults that structures our idea of great literature and thus closes our mind to a more dynamic, alternative, or revisionist view—Goethe being the great classic, Lichtenberg representing the open-ended work or approach. It is also a very moving illustration of close reading as a sort of rewriting that goes beyond the specialist consensus, a political novel that dares not say its name, and one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long while. Fragments de Lichtenberg is Senges’ masterwork, the exhilarating novel of a great stylist, a baroque writer that shows us the encyclopedic novel is not an old man’s game.
François Monti is a founding member of the Fric-frac club électrique, a clandestine congregation of French-speaking litbloggers whose only common trait seems to be the worship of Thomas Ruggles Pynchon’s oeuvre.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
Read more articles by François Monti