- Sur le poème jamais écrit: en lisant Pascal Quignard par Gilles Gontier
Gilles Gontier’s book consists of a series of gloss-like fragments relating to the work of contemporary French writer Pascal Quignard (1948–). Gontier is the author of three other essays and three collections of poems, also published by L’Harmattan. This new book is divided into twelve sections containing short fragmented paragraphs, which, as the author himself notes on the book’s back cover, ‘fris[ent] le pastiche’. In this explanatory note, the book’s fragmentary structure is defined as the product of Gontier’s self-portrait as a wandering reader: the book we are reading is the repository for notes composed while reading Quignard’s œuvre, which Gontier likens to a physical landscape. This approach illustrates what has previously been defined as a larger tendency of critical voices on Quignard to imitate rather than explain. Jean-Luc Nancy, in an essay entitled ‘Jadis, jamais, bientôt (l’amour)’, discusses a form of seduction operated by Quignard’s writing that turns critics into pastiche-writers (in Pascal Quignard, figures d’un lettré, ed. by Philippe Bonnefis and Dolorès Lyotard (Paris: Galilée, 2005), pp. 383–90). Similarly, Dominique Rabaté, in his monographic study of Quignard, discusses this inclination of existing critical voices towards imitation, and finds its source in Quignard’s rhetorical writing and the fascination it produces in readers, critics included (Pascal Quignard: étude de l’œuvre (Paris: Bordas, 2008)). Gontier’s book contains a wide array of statements on Quignard’s œuvre as well as the state of literature more generally. His writing frequently relies on the present tense, and he presents readers with assertions and musings that differ from the more inquisitive discourse habitually found in critical studies. Moreover, the book does not contain a bibliography, and there are no references for quotations that appear in the text. For these reasons, Gontier’s book may not be relevant as scholarly work; but its publication compellingly illustrates the energy and creativity that sustain Quignard’s existing community of readers. It highlights themes and figures in Quignard’s work, such as the metaphor of prehistoric hunting used to define literary writing, or a conception of language as a natural, living entity. Finally, Gontier is interested in [End Page 484] Quignard’s indifference to genres, confirming and expanding an existing understanding of Quignard’s uniquely heterogeneous and ultimately unfixed approach to literary writing.