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HUMANITIES 433 clair, net et precis des principaux chapitres de [,etude sur Laforgue, ce qui en fait, en samme, un livre autonome et cornplet en lui-meme. Outre cette introduction et Ie texte des Complaintes, ['etude offre de tres interessantes analyses de chacune des cinquante-six complaintes. Travail serieux et extremement minutieux qui rendra beaucoup plus aisee la lecture d'un auteur reconnu ccmme difficile alire, voire hermetique a cause d'une modernite originale (neologismes, mots rares et exotiques; syntaxe et grammaire desarticuh?es), annonciatrice des surrealistes. Ce type d'edition critique est un ouvrage tres precieux que je recommanderais it tous ceux que les difficultes du texte ont rebutes et c'est avec regret que je canstate gu'un tel commentaire de textes n'ait pas son equivalent en fran~ais. (MONIQUE BENOiT) Paul A. Fortier. Une lecture de Camus: la valeur des eliments descriptijs dallS l'omvre romallesqlle Klincksieck. 262 A curious fact about Camusian research is the paucity of studies devoted to the fictional work as a whole. The individual texts have certainly received the closest critical scrutiny but the heterogeneity of their styles has been a barrier to any coherent focus which escapes the limits of the analysis of content. Paul Fortier's study is a welcome effort to provide such a focus. The author proposes to analyse the three major novels, L'Elranger, La Peste, La Chute, and certain stories from the collection L'Exil etle royaume in terms of the 'indicia!' (to use a Barthian term) function of the descriptive elements of the texts. Two stories, 'Jonas' and 'Les Muets: are omitted on the grounds that they are unproductive in these terms. The texts are grouped under three basic headings. (1) 'Rencontres africaines' ('L'H6te: 'La Femme adultere: L'Etranger): in each of these narratives the main character forges a relationship with a certain landscape, but nature denies his expectations of it. (2) 'La Maladie totale' (La Peste): here the specific universe covers a collectivity acting on the characters and reflecting their inner states and 'condition.' (3) 'Domaines de !,Eau' (La Chute, 'La Pierre qui pousse'): in this final cycle the relationship between character and universe is reversed, with the character managing to dominate the universe in which he finds himself. Given the proliferation of critical methodologies which, especially in France, are in vogue today, Fortier's approach is surprisingly orthodox and traditional. He considers each work autonomously, uncovering what he calls 'des univers de signification' (Robbe-Grillet) - networks of words and images relating to description which, in each text, produce a coherent meaning through repeated use in different contexts. In an 434 LETTERS IN CANADA 1977 approach which is familiar to Anglo-American criticism, these 'networks of signification' contribute to the elaboration of character, action, and the total structure of each work. The test of any approach to a work of literature is of course its capacity to elucidate the text in a new way. This is especially so of an author such . as Camus whose work has been weighed down by such a vast amount of repetitive commentary that one often feels a moratorium should be declared to give the submerged texts a chance to 'breathe.' Fortier's painstaking analysis escapes in my view this interdiction. His study is thorough, intelligent, and convincing. What may appear initially to be a very unprofitable and restricted focus on Camus's fictional work proves indeed to be an illuminating way to approach the literary aspects of the corpus. Perhaps some avid Camusians may be disappointed that more enterprising interpretations have not resulted, but this is not where the strength of the study lies. Rather, it provides the rational underpinnings for fairly orthodox interpretations which hitherto have often rested on the flimsiest textual evidence. A Inore serious reservation is Fortier's failure to refer to existing research which deals with Camus's symbolic use of description. Admittedly this earlier criticism is often piecemeal, relating to specific texts or even passages of texts (e.g., Frohock's now classic analysis of the murder scene in L'Etranger), but one of the assumptions of a scholarly work is that it will acknowledge previous studies in the field which...


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