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  • Chutes, ruptures et philosophie: les romans de Jérôme Ferrari by Sarah Burnautzki, Cornelia Ruhe
  • Warren Motte
Chutes, ruptures et philosophie: les romans de Jérôme Ferrari. Sous la direction de Sarah Burnautzki et Cornelia Ruhe. (Rencontres, 334; Littérature des XXe et XXIe siècles, 31.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2018. 268 pp.

In their general introduction to this volume, the editors argue a brief for the timeliness and the importance of their project with a great deal of vigour. One can understand their concern, for it may seem to some that Jérôme Ferrari’s work does not yet possess sufficient heft to justify a collective study such as this one. Other people, however, will recognize that if Ferrari’s work has elicited the interest of a group of established scholars and has prompted them to collaborate on this project with application, critical rigour, and seriousness of purpose, that in itself suffices as a raison d’être. Such a spirit of collaboration animates this collection throughout, as the essays included here engage in a broad conversation with each other. That pleasing effect is perhaps less surprising when one learns that this project originated in a colloquium focused on Ferrari’s work (held at the University of Mannheim in April 2016) hosting the critics represented here and the author himself. These thirteen essays speak across disciplinary boundaries and put on display a variety of theoretical approaches. One of the most consistently interesting aspects of this volume is the way in which they question each other along certain common axes. Several contributors (Marine Miquel, Timo Obergöker, Daniela Kuschel) discuss how Ferrari imagines space, for instance; yet their readings of his strategy take rather different directions. Others reflect upon the representation of torture in Ferrari’s Où j’ai laissé mon âme. Florence Lhote suggests that Ferrari puts on display a ‘naturalisation de la torture’ that testifies to a suspension of moral judgement on his part (p. 88). André-Alain Morello argues that Ferrari meditates on the distinction between the human and the inhuman in his novel, while Claudia Jünke points out the dehumanizing consequences of trauma. The notion of apocalypse in Ferrari’s work seizes the attention of many of the contributors, in one way or another: Timo Obergöker talks about the way worlds end — including intellectual worlds; Sarah Burnautzki compares Ferrari’s Un dieu un animal to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979); and Cornelia Ruhe cites ‘l’anéantissement des mondes à différents niveaux et dans différents contextes’ (p. 217) as one of the two fundamental themes of Ferrari’s work (the other being the evocation of Corsican geography, society, history, and culture). In a wide-ranging interview featured towards the end of this volume, Jérôme Ferrari returns to some of those concerns, providing his own perspective upon them in a voice far more direct than the ones that typically speak in his novels. He addresses, for example, the role of war and violence in his writing with a great deal of frankness; he responds to a question about political engagement, describing what the term ‘auteur politique’ means for him (p. 253); he talks about his relation to philosophy and its traditions; he comments pertinently upon formal issues devolving upon narratological concerns and techniques of novelistic composition. A previously unpublished piece of fiction, entitled ‘La Nuit du doute’, completes this collection, offering Ferrari himself a final, authorial word.

Warren Motte
University of Colorado Boulder


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