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The Other Book

Bewilderments of Fiction

Jordan Stump

Publication Year: 2011

Jordan Stump had often contemplated the relationship between a translation and “the book itself,” ruminating on the intriguing inherent sameness and difference between the two. In The Other Book, Stump examines the “other” forms of a book and the ways in which they both mirror and depart from the original. Grounding his witty and original study in an exploration of four forms of Raymond Queneau’s Le chiendent—a copy, the manuscript, a translation, and a critical edition—Stump poses questions designed to help readers reconsider the nature of fiction and reading. Each form of Le chiendent both is and is not what we mean when we say "Le chiendent," yet the friction between their ways of being and that of “the book itself” proves unexpectedly productive, raising troublesome questions about the nature of textuality, reading, language, and knowledge. It also positions us to assess several answers proposed in response to such questions and to wonder about their usefulness. And as we consider those questions, we will have Queneau’s novel beside us, further confounding our attempts to answer—for our inability to answer those questions is precisely the point of The Other Book, as it is of Le chiendent.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Stages

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-17

Although it’s been pure agony ever since, this book began in a moment of bliss. As part of my research for an earlier study, I had gone to the Centre de documentation Raymond Queneau in Verviers, Belgium, to look through Queneau’s manuscripts; I didn’t quite know what I was hoping to find in those pages...

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1. Copy

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pp. 19-69

Let me begin by assuring you that I have read Raymond Queneau’s novel Le chiendent. A strange thing to say, perhaps, but every interpretation of this work—and of any other, of course, mutatis mutandis—must begin with that simple claim. In a work of literary criticism...

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2. Manuscript

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pp. 71-136

Nor, for that matter, do i know what happens in Le chiendent. That’s not meant as a boutade, and certainly not as an admission of readerly incompetence or inattention. I have, after all, read Le chiendent, whatever that means, and so I do know what happens, but as I’ve just noted, what that...

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3. Translation

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pp. 137-202

And the same goes, differently, for translation. The very notion of allowing a translation to affect our understanding of the original text in any serious way seems absurd on the face of it, precisely because of that phrase “the original text,” which implies a relationship very like that...

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4. Critical Edition

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pp. 203-255

But even I weary, in the end, of not knowing things. Everything I’ve said so far has relied so unremittingly on the other book’s power to undo whatever we thought we knew about the book itself, or about reading, or about books in general, that I feel a bit relieved to be turning now...

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pp. 257-260

What I’ve said here changes nothing, of course. Tomorrow I will pick up a novel and begin to read, and no matter how full my head of the uncertainties I’ve just laid out, I will read exactly as I always have, never doubting the perfect knowability of the thing...

Works Cited

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pp. 261-265


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pp. 267-273

E-ISBN-13: 9780803234901
E-ISBN-10: 0803234902
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803234307
Print-ISBN-10: 0803234309

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Stages