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  • Julien Gracq 4: références et présences littéraires
Julien Gracq 4: références et présences littéraires. Textes réunis par Patrick Marot . Paris — Caen, Lettres modernes Minard, 2004. 280 pp. Pb €23.00.

This collection of ten essays provides focused studies on key corpuses that shape Gracq's intensely literary and referential works (for example, by Rimbaud, Breton, Hegel, Goethe, Poe, Wagner), and attends to referential play within a given work by Gracq (such as Au château d'Argol (1938), Un beau ténébreux (1945), Le Rivage des Syrtes (1951)). The striking feature throughout is the very sparing use of the word 'intertextuality'. If two essays recall this catch-all concept for the many procedures at work in Gracq's writing, both connect it overtly to qualifying aesthetics. Jérôme Cabot's 'Au château d'Argol et le bricolage intertextuel: Hegel, la Bible, Faust et le Graal' and 'Énigme et intertextualité dans Un beau ténébreux' by Aurélien Hupé endorse an anthropological and metaphysical referential practice in Gracq's work that runs counter to the rhetoric of absence underlying the more deconstructive 'intertextuality'. It is Gracq's play with presence — whether of others' language and writing, other genres, or other contemporary interlocutors such as Breton or Monnerot — to forge his own, which is the central concern of all of these essays. In this, specialists will see extensions of existing approaches to Gracq, recharged by attention to adjacent counter-theories. For example, in the monumental opening essay, Patrick Marot surveys Gracq studies in the light of deconstruction, in order to reframe the revelatory textual visitations that constitute Gracq's referential practice within a wider neo-Romantic heritage including Surrealism. More specifically, Béatrice Damamme-Gilbert's 'Plaisir, circulation et appropriation: de Gracq lecteur au lecteur de Gracq' applies reader-response approaches and Barthesian pleasures of the text to Gracq as himself a literary reader with textual preferences that resurface in his writing. For Gracq studies, then, this collection is clearly summative and rejuvenating for those fully engaged with this corpus. For the uninitiated but specialist reader of the period, the uncritical attention in these essays to some clearly ideological preferences in Gracq's work may be problematic. However, it is perhaps the non-specialist reader, interested primarily in [End Page 416] the use of allusion, the recycling of literary form, or the importance of political or aesthetic influence who will find stimulation and frustration in equal measure with this collection. Where too much theory can often be restrictive in the elucidation of literary texts, too little grounding in theoretical method returns study of a corpus to extensive naming of the same tropes (or intertexts) with undue interpretation or qualification. For such a highly intertextual and referential writer as Gracq, whose works span so many important schools and movements in French literature, this collection of essays does and does not do justice to the span of his aesthetic practices.

Mary Orr
University Of Southampton

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