Paths to Contemporary French Literature
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Paths to Contemporary French Literature : Volume 2

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The first volume of Paths to Contemporary French Literature offered a critical panorama of over fifty French writers and poets. With this second volume, John Taylor-an American writer and critic who has lived in France for the past thirty years-continues this ambitious and critically acclaimed project.

Praised for his independence, curiosity, intimate knowledge of European literature, and his sharp reader's eye, John Taylor is a writer-critic who is naturally skeptical of literary fashions, overnight reputations, and readymade academic categories. Charting the paths that have lead to the most serious and stimulating contemporary French writing, he casts light on several neglected postwar French authors, all the while highlighting genuine mentors and invigorating newcomers. Some names (Patrick Chamoiseau, Pascal Quignard, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Jean Rouaud, Francis Ponge, Aime Cesaire, Marguerite Yourcenar, J. M. G. Le Clezio) may be familiar to the discriminating and inquisitive American reader, but their work is incisively re-evaluated here. The book also includes a moving remembrance of Nathalie Sarraute, and an evocation of the author's meetings with Julien Gracq Other writers in this second volume are equally deserving authors whose work is highly respected by their peers in France yet little known in English-speaking countries. Taylor's pioneering elucidations in this respect are particularly valuable.

This second volume also examines a number of non-French, originally non-French-speaking writers (such as Gherasim Luca, Petr Kral, Armen Lubin, Venus Ghoura-Khata, Piotr Rawicz, as well as Samuel Beckett) who chose French as their literary idiom. Taylor is in a perfect position to understand their motivations, struggles, and goals. In a day and age when so little is known in English-speaking countries about foreign literature, and when so little is translated, the two volumes of Paths to Contemporary French Literature are absorbing guides for literary scholars, writers, poets, students of French culture, and readers of contemporary fiction and poetry.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 382 pages
  • 162.6 x 233.7 x 33mm | 703.08g
  • Transaction Publishers
  • Somerset, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0765803704
  • 9780765803702
  • 2,305,278

Table of contents

Introduction

Part 1: The Voice behind the Prose

Remembering Nathalie Sarraute
The Pilgrimage to Saint-Florent-le-Vieil

Part 2: French Humor

The Strange Case of Dr. Froeppel and Monsieur Tardieu
A Puree of Black Thoughts (Pierre Autin-Grenier)
Dead-Serious Wordplay (Gherasim Luca)
Of Farce and Fragility (Cordebard)
Two Brow-Bashing Comics (Louis Aragon and Rene Crevel)
Breaking Dishes in Neverland (Raymond Queneau)
One is not Serious at 117 (Jean-Pierre Verheggen)
A Tongue In and Out of Cheek (Christian Gailly)
A Deceptive Lightness of Being (Jean-Philippe Toussaint)

Part 3: Dreaming and Dailiness

A Little Tour through the Land of Alain-Fournier
Haunting Transparence of the World (Jean Follain)
Intuitions of Elsewhere (Gustave Roud)
In Praise of Lightness (Pierre Lartigue)
From the Middle of Nowhere (Jean Rouaud)
Commemorating Life's "Minuscule Pleasures" (Philippe Delerm)
Comprehending the Quotidian (Petr Kral)
The Clandestine Passenger of French Poetry (Armen Lubin)
The Voices of Tattered People (Francois Bon)
Prose from a No-Man's Land (Daniel Zimmermann)

Part 4: Language Reaching Out

The Lure of Things (Francis Ponge)
The Essential Enigmas (Michel de Smet)
Making a Gift to the Possibilities of Telling (Michel Deguy)
Bonnefoy and Shakespeare
The Path to Impersonalization (Danielle Collobert)
Ladders Leading Beyond the Self (Salah Stetie)
Of Language and the Human Heart (Annie Saumont)
From Cesaire to Chamoiseau

Part 5: The Quest for "Life"

Feeling our Aliveness (Michel Henry)
Elusive "Life" (Eugene Savitzkaya)
"Belief, Magic, Miracle": Louis Calaferte as Poet
A Passionate Lettre (Pascal Quignard)

Part 6: Myths and Mysteries of Eros

The Art of Convivance (Florence Delay)
A Misere of Forget-Me-Nots (Genevieve Huttin)
The Governing Passions of Exceptional Lives (Michele Desbordes)
Eros' Landscapes (Patrick Drevet)
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Dominique Mainard)
From the Heart of the Limousin (Richard Millet)
Protean, Paradoxical Jean Paulhan
Sensual Intellect (Catherine Pozzi)
Meta-Eroticism and Simulacra (Pierre Klossowski)
The Double Keyboard of Sensuality and Spirituality (Claude Louis-Combet)

Part 7: Mirrors and Prisms of Autobiography

Autobiography as Panegyric (Guy Debord)
The Perils of Autobiography (Marguerite Yourcenar)
The Survivor's Tale (Piotr Rawicz)
The Moral Traps of Occupied France (Emmanuel Bove)
Irene Nemirovsky's Final Manuscript
Of Heritage and Experience (Emmanuel Moses)
The Commitment of an Incessant Traveler (J. M. G. Le Clezio)
Before the First Page (Venus Khoury-Ghata)

Part 8: The Life and the Work

I Can't Go On, I'll Go On (Samuel Beckett)
The Intimate Pierre Guyotat

From Aristotle's Quandary to French and American Prose Poems

Notes
Bibliography
Index
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Review quote

**Named a Best Book of 2007 by Ready Steady Book, an independent book review website, working in association with The Book Depository, which is devoted to reviewing the best books in literary fiction, poetry, history. and philosophy.

-This is heavyweight literary criticism from an expert in the field. John Taylor is, among other things, a contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and wrote the section on France in the Oxford Guide to Contemporary Writing. . . . The book is intended to carry the voices of little-known or unknown French writers across the Channel-not simply their works, but their own interpretations of English-language texts with which we are more familiar. . . . Taylor's own writing is a reminder of the breadth of English, concise construction and the comic value of a well-timed French word. . . . Here is a real cultural challenge.-

--The Connexion, May 2009

-From Transaction, you can get the second volume of John Taylor's Paths to Contemporary French Literature; Taylor's short pieces on a huge range of writers are the literary equivalent of a superb travel guide.-

--John Wilson, Books and Culture

-For English readers, John Taylor's fascinating overview of Klossowski's oeuvre, in the second volume of his 'Paths to Contemporary French Literature. His angle on the writer is more especially literary and situates him with respect to his peers: Louis-Ren des Forts, Samuel Beckett, Georges Bataille. Taylor's title is 'Meta-Eroticism and Simulacra.' 'Meta-erotic'--now that's a perfect way of describing . . . Denise (Klossowski's wife, and a character in his novels).-

--Ronald Klapka, remue.net

-In these well written, consistently instructive and often illuminating pages, Taylor discusses well over a hundred French writers, including many of my favourites: Sarraute, Des Forets, Duras, Antelme, Perec, Jabs, Marcel Cohen, Roland Barthes, Bonnefoy, Ponge, Deguy, Quignard, Paulhan, Rawicz, Beckett, Emmanuel Bove. The long essays on Pascal Quignard and Michel Deguy are particularly insightful, and essential reading for the sympathetic newcomer seeking an introduction to these major writers.-

--Anthony Rudolf, ReadySteadyBook.com

Review on Volumes 1 and 2: -[W]hile Mr. Taylors's work will be used as a research tool, a reference source and a classroom text, it can be equally well approached as a vast, non-fiction novel. . . . The degree of reading and analysis that goes into any one of these studies could comprise a decade's labor for an ordinary scholar, but Mr. Taylor takes it in stride. . . . For the student of modern French literature, and for those not fluent in the language, there exists no better introductions. . . . These two volumes (soon to be joined by a third) provide all the orientation, compass-references, and landmarks required to begin a personal expedition into the forests, valleys and mountain ranges of modern French literature.-

--Martin Abramson, Book/Mark

-[A] deeply informed, delightful, and provocative 'stroll' through the literature of postwar France.-

--Erika Funkhouser

-This is critical writing that is satisfying at every single level.-

--Richard Goodman

-[T]his work offers the English-speaking reader an original and poetic way to understand and appreciate French contemporary culture.-

--Richard Stamelman **Named a Best Book of 2007 by Ready Steady Book, an independent book review website, working in association with The Book Depository, which is devoted to reviewing the best books in literary fiction, poetry, history. and philosophy.

"This is heavyweight literary criticism from an expert in the field. John Taylor is, among other things, a contributor to the "Times Literary Supplement" and wrote the section on France in the "Oxford Guide to Contemporary Writing." . . . The book is intended to carry the voices of little-known or unknown French writers across the Channel-not simply their works, but their own interpretations of English-language texts with which we are more familiar. . . . Taylor's own writing is a reminder of the breadth of English, concise construction and the comic value of a well-timed French word. . . . Here is a real cultural challenge."

--"The Connexion, " May 2009

"From Transaction, you can get the second volume of John Taylor's "Paths to Contemporary French Literature"; Taylor's short pieces on a huge range of writers are the literary equivalent of a superb travel guide."

--John Wilson, "Books and Culture"

"For English readers, John Taylor's fascinating overview of Klossowski's oeuvre, in the second volume of his 'Paths to Contemporary French Literature. His angle on the writer is more especially literary and situates him with respect to his peers: Louis-Ren des Forts, Samuel Beckett, Georges Bataille. Taylor's title is 'Meta-Eroticism and Simulacra.' 'Meta-erotic'--now that's a perfect way of describing . . . Denise (Klossowski's wife, and a character in his novels)."

--Ronald Klapka, "remue.net"

"In these well written, consistently instructive and often illuminating pages, Taylor discusses well over a hundred French writers, including many of my favourites: Sarraute, Des Forets, Duras, Antelme, Perec, Jabs, Marcel Cohen, Roland Barthes, Bonnefoy, Ponge, Deguy, Quignard, Paulhan, Rawicz, Beckett, Emmanuel Bove. The long essays on Pascal Quignard and Michel Deguy are particularly insightful, and essential reading for the sympathetic newcomer seeking an introduction to these major writers."

--Anthony Rudolf, "ReadySteadyBook.com"

Review on Volumes 1 and 2: "[W]hile Mr. Taylors's work will be used as a research tool, a reference source and a classroom text, it can be equally well approached as a vast, non-fiction novel. . . . The degree of reading and analysis that goes into any one of these studies could comprise a decade's labor for an ordinary scholar, but Mr. Taylor takes it in stride. . . . For the student of modern French literature, and for those not fluent in the language, there exists no better introductions. . . . These two volumes (soon to be joined by a third) provide all the orientation, compass-references, and landmarks required to begin a personal expedition into the forests, valleys and mountain ranges of modern French literature."

--Martin Abramson, Book/Mark

"[A] deeply informed, delightful, and provocative 'stroll' through the literature of postwar France."

--Erika Funkhouser

"This is critical writing that is satisfying at every single level."

--Richard Goodman

"[T]his work offers the English-speaking reader an original and poetic way to understand and appreciate French contemporary culture."

--Richard Stamelman "While Mr. Taylors's work will be used as a research tool, a reference source and a classroom text, it can be equally well approached as a vast, non-fiction novel . . . Between the two volumes, over 100 authors are introduced . . . The subjects' lives, souls and places in French literature are fully revealed . . .The degree of reading and analysis that goes into any one of these studies could comprise a decade's labor for an ordinary scholar, but Mr. Taylor takes it in stride."--Martin Abramson, " Book/Mark " "[A] deeply informed, delightful, and provocative 'stroll' through the literature of postwar France."--Erika Funkhouser

"This is critical writing that is satisfying at every single level."--Richard Goodman

"[T]his work offers the English-speaking reader an original and poetic way to understand and appreciate French contemporary culture."--Richard Stamelman "This is heavyweight literary criticism from an expert in the field. John Taylor is, among other things, a contributor to the "Times Literary Supplement" and wrote the section on France in the "Oxford Guide to Contemporary Writing".... The book is intended to carry the voices of little-known or unknown French writers across the Channel-not simply their works, but their own interpretations of English-language texts with which we are more familiar.... Taylor's own writing is a reminder of the breadth of English, concise construction and the comic value of a well-timed French word.... Here is a real cultural challenge." "--The Connexion, " May 2009

"From Transaction, you can get the second volume of John Taylor's "Paths to Contemporary French Literature"; Taylor's short pieces on a huge range of writers are the literary equivalent of a superb travel guide." ---John Wilson, "Books and Culture" "For English readers, John Taylor's fascinating overview of Klossowski's oeuvre, in the second volume of his 'Paths to Contemporary French Literature.' His angle on the writer is more especially literary and situates him with respect to his peers: Louis-Ren des Forts, Samuel Beckett, Georges Bataille. Taylor's title is 'Meta-Eroticism and Simulacra.' "Meta-erotic"-now that's a perfect way of describing...Denise (Klossowski's wife, and a character in his novels)." --Ronald Klapka, "remue.net"

"I would like to use this opportunity to draw attention to an essential reference work, John Taylor's two splendid volumes, Paths to Contemporary French Literature volumes 1 and 2....In these well written, consistently instructive and often illuminating pages, Taylor discusses well over a hundred French writers, including many of my favourites: Sarraute, Des Forets, Duras, Antelme, Perec, Jabs, Marcel Cohen, Roland Barthes, Bonnefoy, Ponge, Deguy, Quignard, Paulhan, Rawicz, Beckett, Emmanuel Bove. The long essays on Pascal Quignard and Michel Deguy are particularly insightful, and "While Mr. Taylors's work will be used as a research tool, a reference source and a classroom text, it can be equally well approached as a vast, non-fiction novel... Between the two volumes, over 100 authors are introduced ...The subjects' lives, souls and places in French literature are fully revealed...The degree of reading and analysis that goes into any one of these studies could comprise a decade's labor for an ordinary scholar, but Mr. Taylor takes it in stride."

--Martin Abramson, " Book/Mark " "[A] deeply informed, delightful, and provocative 'stroll' through the literature of postwar France."

--Erika Funkhouser

"This is critical writing that is satisfying at every single level."

--Richard Goodman

"[T]his work offers the English-speaking reader an original and poetic way to understand and appreciate French contemporary culture."

--Richard Stamelman "This is heavyweight literary criticism from an expert in the field. John Taylor is, among other things, a contributor to the "Times Literary Supplement" and wrote the section on France in the "Oxford Guide to Contemporary Writing."... The book is intended to carry the voices of little-known or unknown French writers across the Channel-not simply their works, but their own interpretations of English-language texts with which we are more familiar.... Taylor's own writing is a reminder of the breadth of English, concise construction and the comic value of a well-timed French word.... Here is a real cultural challenge.""--The Connexion, " May 2009

"From Transaction, you can get the second volume of John Taylor's "Paths to Contemporary French Literature"; Taylor's short pieces on a huge range of writers are the literary equivalent of a superb travel guide."---John Wilson, "Books and Culture""For English readers, John Taylor's fascinating overview of Klossowski's oeuvre, in the second volume of his 'Paths to Contemporary French Literature.' His angle on the writer is more especially literary and situates him with respect to his peers: Louis-Ren des Forts, Samuel Beckett, Georges Bataille. Taylor's title is 'Meta-Eroticism and Simulacra.' "Meta-erotic"-now that's a perfect way of describing...Denise (Klossowski's wife, and a character in his novels)."--Ronald Klapka, "remue.net"

"I would like to use this opportunity to draw attention to an essential reference work, John Taylor's two splendid volumes, Paths to Contemporary French Literature volumes 1 and 2....In these well written, consistently instructive and often illuminating pages, Taylor discusses well over a hundred French writers, including many of my favourites: Sarraute, Des Forets, Duras, Antelme, Perec, Jabs, Marcel Cohen, Roland Barthes, Bonnefoy, Ponge, Deguy, Quignard, Paulhan, Rawicz, Beckett, Emmanuel Bove. The long essays on Pascal Quignard and Michel Deguy are particularly insightful, and essential
show more

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