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Hard Core, Hard Sell: Marie Nimier's La Nouvelle Pornographie Margaret-Anne Hutton LA NOUVELLE PORNOGRAPHIE is a very knowing text.1 If it were a literary character, it might well be a Valmont or a Merteuil. It is also an extremely frustrating text, appropriately, or perhaps inappropriately, given the subject matter. Like pornography, it is in your face, showing all, yet like the erotic it performs a slow strip-tease for the reader, leaving gaps for the imagination. Engaging with the conventions of and debates surrounding pornography, it also frolics on the frontiers of genre boundaries, teases us with the ambiguities of the relationship between first-person narrator and author, shows us what seems to be real only to reveal it as another level of representation , highlighting the very processes of the act of writing and the polysémie potential of language.2 Finally, it is a text which meshes closely with Nimier's existing corpus via a series of both explicit allusions and unvoiced echoes. The exhaustive range of sexual material in La Nouvelle Pornographie ensures that all tastes are potentially catered for. On the menu are stereotypical threesomes complete with maid, well-endowed firemen, not forgetting a hint of incest, exhibitionism, scribbling on bare buttocks with a blue biro, and most untoward goings-on with a greyhound. The sheer range and accumulation of sexual incident is such that the text has a catalogue-like quality, and indeed readers may be reminded of an earlier Nimier novel, L'Hypnotisme à la portée de tous, in which the narrator, working a telephone sex-line, is informed by her boss that "Le client a le choix entre sept familles: Exhibitionisme , Voyeurisme, Inceste, Sodomie, Sadomasochisme, Zoophilie et une rubrique Fourre-Tout qui s'enrichit à mesure que les demandes nous parviennent ."3 La Nouvelle Pornographie not only represents all of these sexual "families" in a series of episodes; it also has a love story as the only clearly discernible linear plot-line, "cette disposition universelle du cœur qui commence par la première lettre de l'alphabet" being, the narrator claims, the last "territoire préservé" (164), safe from the ever-encroaching discourse of pornography: love as the ultimately taboo subject.4 Like everything else in the text, this revalorization of love might represent the authorial voice or it might not. The narrator readily and self-consciously admits to her romantic propensities : "mon fantasme le plus tenace n'était pas de violer un sapeur-pompier . .. mais, comme toutes les fillettes nourries aux contes de fées, de me marier, 28 Spring 2005 Hutton d'être heureuse, et, par conséquent, d'avoir beaucoup d'enfants" (45). We are also given due notice, however, that such idealistic desires may lead to the intrusion of the imaginary into reality, the blurring of levels of representation: "Il fallait toujours que je m'invente une histoire d'amour. Même dans les situations les plus scabreuses, je trouvais un alibi romantique" (43). We should perhaps not be surprised to discover that in L'Hypnotisme à la portée de tous "Romantisme" is relegated to the "Fourre-Tout" sex-line category, "entre Routiers et Rollmops" (282-83). The range of sexual scenarios in La Nouvelle Pornographie, however, does more than offer up fantasy-fodder for all. Inevitably, what is potentially titillating to some is merely bizarre to others. The narrator-author's decision to include not only the more obvious clichés of pornography but also material of a sexual nature which moves, unsettles or disturbs her ("qu'est-ce qui me trouble, serais-je capable d'écrire ce qui me trouble?" [132], "qu'est-ce qui m'émeut, saurais-je l'écrire?" [67]) triggers a reflective response in the reader, as the heterogeneous material inevitably also elicits a wide range of responses in us. More obviously, the text invites a distanced, analytic response to pornography via the familiar literary device of a first-person narrator who is also an author (the greyhound, who is regularly masturbated by its owner, is called Marcelproust). In this particular case the narrator, already an established author, has been invited by editor Gabriel Tournon to write a series of pornographic texts...


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