YOU DON'T LOVE YOURSELF by Nathalie Sarraute


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At 90 years old, celebrated French novelist/essayist Sarraute (Childhood: An Autobiography, 1984; Fools Say, 1977) constructs an intricately cerebral novel that investigates the illusion of the unified personality or ""self"": Her protagonist contains a swarm of separate and opposing ""I's"" who cannot agree upon--let alone love--a single ""self."" ""'You don't love yourself.' But what does that mean?"" As a nameless protagonist agonizes about a biting remark made at a gathering, we discover that he (some reveries portray him as a man) is in reality a host of warring ""I's"" and ""me's."" In fact, the ""I"" who went too fax at a party and brought on that humiliating remark about love is a mere ""delegate"" and a bit of a loose cannon: ""You broke away from us, you put yourself forward as our sole representative,"" reproach the other ""you's."" While this multitude of voices agrees that the illusion of a single ""I"" is indispensable for ordinary social life, they search for the secret of a love that would go deeper than the fatuous vanity they see operating in people of ""strong personality."" Yet, like a king who longs to be a happy peasant, the host longs to mimic the lavish self-love he observes in a few stalwartly superficial types. Complicating everything, ""he"" is ironic half the time, as he worries over that slight about love. Is he serious when he heaps praise on a man? (""So close to perfection that he ought to serve us as a model, if only we were capable of trying to love ourselves. . ."") Yes and no, and then some. Sarraute dramatizes the many internal voices that hound us--a tireless detective on the trail of the emptiness at the bottom of the crowded modern soul. An accomplished book--for very intellectual tastes. Jean-Paul Sartre once complimented Sarraute for her ""stumbling, groping style.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1990
ISBN: 0807612545
Publisher: Braziller