A DARK STRANGER by Julien Gracq


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This unusual novel compels a marine analogue, not only in its setting and pace but also in its snail like action- an engulfing of events, a convoluted return upon itself, an irreparably bloodless chill of intellectualism. Arriving at a beach resort near Monte Carlo, Allan- a peculiarly distinguished and gifted young man- immediately enthralls the society there. His unusual attraction has a foreboding, destructive quality and by universal divination he becomes the embodiment of the death wish, a participant in a mysterious suicide pact. With his secret knowledge the loyalty of the other guests is divided between the antagonism of the more primitive and the fascination of the more sensitive decedents. All are united in outwardly deploring Allan's impending destruction but the unique premise of the story's foreordained conclusion lies in the fact that his actual suicide is enforced by everyone's subconscious (whether vicious or vicarious) desire for his death. Thus, by an unadmitted community of guilt the story of a suicide is transfigured into a mystic murder. This English translation from the French preserves the baroque and poetic prose so well adapted to the singular character of the novel but scarcely helpful in making this more intelligible to the lay reader. An abstruse and difficult book, ultra-sophisticated, with a market designate of the avantgarde.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1950
ISBN: 1901285820
Publisher: New Directions