THE BENEFACTOR by Susan ontag


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This first novel, with its somnolent shadow- and its investigation of some of the more enigmatic, experimental areas of existence, has a definite fascination if only for those already attuned to the bizarrerie f the nouvelle vague. The benefactor is a bankrupt, one Hippolyte, who now in his ixties, with the aridity of detachment appropriate to his nature as well as years, reviews his earlier quest for certitude. A series of recurrent, disconcerting reams which dominated his waking hours led him, as a young man, to apply his life to the interpretation of his dreams (rather than vice versa); i.e.- they became he models and motives for his actions. An erotic dream prompts his seduction of the older Frau Anders; further dreams impel his later treatment of her- he sells er to an Arab, he attempts to murder her, succeeds only in disfiguring her. Other reams occasion his talks with a priest, with a cultist, with his friend- a promisuous homosexual. Finally he becomes a rather doubtful benefactor and this book records this dream-directed distortion of experience in the release of his last years.... It is a tantalizing, talented novel, with a certain incantory power and ronic perversity. For tastes- and perhaps an audience- to be acquired.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 1963
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.