THE PALACE by Claude Simon


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Of the three experimental French novels reviewed in this issue, Claude Simon's, while pursuing his already established course and cult,- choisisme (thingishness), is the most inaccessible. Choisisme is the fixation of the eye (whether camera, or otherwise) upon externals: an interior of a restaurant is described in one sentence which runs to about ten pages and includes 58 (a rough count) parentheses (here only is the frequently made comparison with Faulkner valid). Or, of a cigar box, which runs to five pages. Characters have almost been excluded (which was not true of the earlier Simon books) and are now not only nameless, but almost unidentifiable. Among them is the student, or the man who had been the student, who is revisiting the scene where some fifteen years ago he had gone to join the Republicans. His memories are enclosed within that period, a day or two, and in this way Simon's concern with time and its mutations is apparent: what has changed- i.e. the Palace which had once been a headquarters for the movement and is now a bank. There is no question that Simon, with his visual phenomena, his serpentine sentences which average out at three or four pages each and their accumulation of words and images, is an extraordinary writer; but what invites admiration can also be self-defeating.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1963
Publisher: raziller