by Robert Pinget ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 16, 1981
Pinget's novels (The Libera Me Domine, Passacaglia) have a sometimes unreadable density and a difficult illogic to them: they are unclassifiable and not about anything in particular ("The initiate finds himself in the age of passion and lacking any sense of discrimination"). But in this slender--61 pages--book, and in Pinget's others, a certain authority operates throughout, an authority that slowly reveals itself as unquestionable.
At first, the "fable" here is totally befuddling. A village (when? where?) appears to have been overrun and decimated by a catastrophe; what remains is occasionally depredated by a cannibal band. A lone traveler, Maille (sometimes he's called Miette), sleeps at night in the hay of a barn and by day investigates the scene. Flares, sudden and fantastic ones without warning, break out within the prose: bitter denunciation, blasphemy, fatalism, copulating angels, a gypsy, a ""sedentary man,"" a slovenly and licentious poetess-witch, a circumcised Jesus. The words ""I never loved you"" ring out repeatedly and dolorously--God's? The "fable" begins to seem half a suggestion that we truly occupy only our humiliation--and half a parable about a "blind Narcissus" (the artist? Jesus?) who is "tempted" by the Bible: "Suddenly he stops seeing everything as consecurive, painfully linked together until its relentless end, and begins to see it as a suspended event, open dwelling-places where he can go from one to the other, he finds himself in each one, his place will not be taken from him by the tribulations to come, the accidental no longer triumphs." These might be taken as a good set of instructions on how to read this book, with its succeeding yet independent metaphors. But, whatever the work may mean, when the traveler Mallle returns to Pinget's central location--the country village of Fantoine, where all stories, legible or not, dead or alive, are known and accepted--the touch is one of gentle fatalism. . . and very moving.
Extremely difficult work, but quite haunting and provocative.
Pub Date: March 16, 1981
Page Count: -
Publisher: Red Dust
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1981
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