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B ook R ev iew s démonte et se remonte la plus complexe de ses machines: le langage” (16). Speculating on the possibilities which cybernetics might offer to literature, he elaborates a curious theory of influence: “ La vraie machine littéraire sera celle qui sentira elle-même le besoin de pro­ duire du désordre, mais comme réaction à une précédente production d’ordre; celle qui pro­ duira de l’avant-garde pour débloquer ses propres circuits, engorgés par une trop longue production de classicisme” (18). Finally, though, the machine serves as a figure of the literary text itself, a combinatory and (significantly) interactive ludic system. Calvino’s theoretical remarks in the present anthology are entirely consonant with his own novelistic praxis: “ . . .si nous connaissons désormais les règles du jeu ‘romanesque,’ nous pourrons construire des romans ‘artificiels’ nés en laboratoire, nous pourrons jouer au roman comme on joue aux échecs, avec une ab­ solue loyauté, en rétablissant une communication entre l’écrivain, pleinement conscient des mécanismes dont il est en train de faire usage, et le lecteur qui accepte le jeu parce qu’il en connaît les règles et sait qu’il ne peut plus être pris au piège” (156). The penultimate essay in this fine collection is an homage to Roland Barthes, written shortly after the latter’s death. Refusing false sentiment, Calvino leads us back to his friend’s work by example. La Machine littérature functions in a similar manner, question­ ing, amusing, illuminating, sending us back to Calvino. W a r r e n F . M o t t e , J r . University o f Nebraska Jacques Noiray. L e R o m a n c ie r e t l a m a c h in e . L ’Im a g e d e l a m a c h in e d a n s l e r o m a n f r a n ç a is (1850-1900). Vol. II. J u l e s V e r n e —V il l ie r s d e l ’I s l e -A d a m . Paris: José Corti, 1982. Pp. 423. 115 F. In this second volume of his exhaustive study of the machine in the novels of the second half of the nineteenth century, Jacques Noiray shifts his attention from the machines of Zola to those of Verne and Villiers de l’lsle-Adam. In so doing he moves away from the historical background of the machine in nineteenth-century fiction and from the socio­ economic grounding of Zola’s portrayal of the “ objet technique,” to broader considera­ tions of the poetics of the machine in the anticipatory fictions of two very different authors, who nonetheless display revealing similarities where the theme of the machine is concerned. The results are equally rewarding. Noiray does not try to avoid the somewhat, well, mechanical organization of the dissertation format (the book is the published version of the author’s thèse), but the thoroughness of his research and the orderliness of its presentation are great virtues when working through the vast amounts of material this subject involves. For Verne alone, Noiray treats 17 of 62 novels which he identifies as “ roman(s) à fiction technique” (p. 37). And if for Villiers machine fiction can be reduced to L ’Evefuture and a handful of contes, the fact that relatively little has been written on either the writer or the novel makes one the more appreciative of Noiray’s illuminating contribution. Early on Noiray presents us with an important insight, reprised from his first volume, that defines the machine in Verne and Villiers as an “ objet poétique.” This is the distinc­ tion between the technical and meta-technical. Noiray sees the meta-technical dimension of the machine as a level at which the apparatus no longer functions as a real, utilitarian device, but assumes a new identity, closely bound up with the imaginaire. Sometimes, as is the case for certain machines in Zola, like La Lison, or for some of Edison’s recording devices in L ’Evefuture, the same...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 100-101
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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