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Book Reviews In contrast, Small Worlds proposes anodier world or two, which are related. One concerning aesthetic considerations, which are, of course, not new to literary criticism, but which have been quite forgotten in the current theoretical stream. The odier presents a delightful body of works still quite unknown on this side of die Atlantic. Inspired by similar phenomena in music and the plastic arts, die book brings out what could only be called a tendency in contemporary French literature : minimalism. This is clearly not a new literature, the way the new novel or modem poetry were "new," but a general aspect, a general effort, on the part of the writer, characterized by "smallness and simplicity, a reduction of means (and the resulting amplification of effect), immediacy , directness, clarity, repetition, symmetry and playfulness" (Jacket, 2). It is sparse, detached, sometimes deadpan, oblique, elliptical, relatively plotless and deptiiless. That is to say diat the literature in question is very much at die edge of the non-literary and that it would take a very small thing indeed, an imperceptible wrong dosage of one factor or another, a slight exaggeration here or a too strong understatement there, to transform the work from minimalist to trivial. But what firmly grounds all die works Motte presents (he has chapters on Edmond Jabès, Hervé Guibert, Annie Emaux, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Marie Redonnet, Jean Echenoz, Olivier Targowla, Patrick Roegiers, Jacques Jouet and Emmanuele Bernheim) on die side of the literary is a kind of knotting of die formal aspect widi die actual story being told. For each of diese texts tells a story which at the same time tells die story of its own writing and/or reading. A small example : in Emmanuele Bernheim's Sa Femme, Claire falls in love with her patient, Thomas, a married man. She discovers diat he was pretending to be married and immediately loses interest, turning her attention to another of her patients, after verifying that he is, in fact, married. Keeping with die minimalist principle, die plot is banal. But die novel isn't. As Motte reads it, it becomes clear diat it is also a fable of storytelling and a fable of reading. The supposed wife ("sa femme") is die motor of die fiction (and, perhaps, symbolically of all fiction): as Claire discovers that she doesn't exist, she disposes of Thomas to find another motor, real this time, to allow Bernheim to continue her fiction. Just as readers read and use a book to satisfy tiieir own need for fiction, and then dispose of it to move on to die next. In a word (small), this book, just like the books it treats, should have an increasingly amplified effect. At least, that's what mis reviewer hopes. Sydney Levy University of California, Santa Barbara Architectes et architecture dans la littérature française. Travaux de littérature publiés par ADIREL, XII (Actes du colloque international d'octobre 1997, en Sorbonne). Directrice scientifique , Madeleine Bertaud. Paris: Klincksieck, 1999. Pp. 462. 330FF. The 33 articles in this rewarding interdisciplinary dialogue range from the Middle Ages to the twentiedi century. Rather dian give a cursory notice of each contribution, it seems prudent to make a subjective choice in an attempt to communicate the flavor of what must have been an exceedingly stimulating colloquium. But it will be important for any reader to begin with the Conclusions of Madeleine Bertaud (441-46) where she judiciously outlines what could have been and what was actually realized. Clearly, the attention to space and place, to die city, and to die public and private spheres diat has preoccupied die humanities and die social sciences—especially geography—in die 1990s explains die timeliness of this volume. I would also urge the reader to stop next at Phillipe Hamon's text, "Littérature et architecture: divisions et distinctions" (313-21), which offers die tiieoretical basis for die rest of die volume. Section I ("Le Crayon et Ia plume") begins with an elucidation of the oft-mentioned but little-analyzed relationship between die architect Philibert De L'Orme and François Rabelais. Yves Pauwels shows that the two share a common status as founders of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 115-116
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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