Jean Ricardou Place Names

ISBN 13: 9781564784780

Place Names

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Which came first, words or things? Are your words yours, or someone else's? And what do the Crusades have to do with it? And what do ants have to do with it? Jean Ricardou has been given something of a bad rap: he's widely seen as a difficult writer, or worse yet, as an intensely serious one. However, he easily sheds this weighty reputation in his hilariously playful new novel about the notoriously complex world of literary theory. Supplying his readers with everything they need to know to navigate this world, Ricardou uses his own irreverent interpretation of deconstructive theory to ask questions about language and history, theory and life, and all the intriguing connections between them.

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About the Author:

Jordan Stump is the noted translator of several modern French novelists, including novel prize winner Claude Simon, for whom his translation of Le Jardin des Plantes won the French American Foundation s Translation Prize.

Review:

"With remarkable mastery, Jean Ricardou creates a fiction, like those of Borges, causes the conventional foundations of reality to tremble, and that brings with it, through its infinitely reflected simulacra, the collapse of reason beneath the vestiges of a question with no answer." --Alain Clerval

"A little bit Borges and a little bit Calvino, French postmodernist Ricardou's newly translated 1969 novel proves a circuitous trek through a fictive landscape of eight metaphorically named places. Bannière, Beaufort, Belarbre, Belcroix, Cendrier, Chaumont, Hautbois and Monteaux—each gets its own chapter, and each serves as a source from which language springs, along with the whimsically opaque plot. In the medieval village of Bannière stands the 19th-century museum house of the late fictional artist Albert Crucis ('simply the genitive of the Latin crux, 'cross'), where a young traveler, whose name is not revealed until midbook, begins his visit to the area. He will run into an antiquarian dealer named Epsilon (l'espion, 'the spy') and an elusive woman in a red dress, named Atta, who shares his passion for recondite research into the work of Crucis. The two travelers dig for clues in the artist's allegorical paintings, which depict the eight places in question. Ricardou is a practitioner of the nouveau roman, and his experimental work frees the narrative from conventional rules and plunges it, delightfully, into quandary, contradiction and travel-literature parody." --Publishers Weekly

"Is there inherent meaning in language, or, in assigning names to places and things, are we merely groping blindly for meaning that might not exist? Ricardou seems to advocate the latter in his latest deconstructionist work, a novel-cum-metafictional guidebook, which owes much to the tradition of the New Novel in its refusal to adhere to any conventional notions of storytelling. A notoriously difficult writer, Ricardou leavens his latest work with a much-needed playfulness as he describes villagers' attempts to construct historical significance based on the implications of the names of the places where they reside. His sentences, freed from the mundane task of propelling the plot forward, shimmer on the page like pearls dug out of the muck of ordinary language. His powers of observation are truly daunting, and his microscopic attention to detail, including the description of a single ant struggling for its life on a diminishing dry spot of rock, make one feel less content to accept meaning and names at face value and more interested in the kind of ruthless examination of the world at which Ricardou excels. Recommended for
literary fiction collections."—Library Journal --Library Journal

"A little bit Borges and a little bit Calvino, French postmodernist Ricardou's newly translated 1969 novel proves a circuitous trek through a fictive landscape of eight metaphorically named places. Bannière, Beaufort, Belarbre, Belcroix, Cendrier, Chaumont, Hautbois and Monteaux—each gets its own chapter, and each serves as a source from which language springs, along with the whimsically opaque plot. In the medieval village of Bannière stands the 19th-century museum house of the late fictional artist Albert Crucis ('simply the genitive of the Latin crux, 'cross'), where a young traveler, whose name is not revealed until midbook, begins his visit to the area. He will run into an antiquarian dealer named Epsilon (l'espion, 'the spy') and an elusive woman in a red dress, named Atta, who shares his passion for recondite research into the work of Crucis. The two travelers dig for clues in the artist's allegorical paintings, which depict the eight places in question. Ricardou is a practitioner of the nouveau roman, and his experimental work frees the narrative from conventional rules and plunges it, delightfully, into quandary, contradiction and travel-literature parody." --Publishers Weekly

"Is there inherent meaning in language, or, in assigning names to places and things, are we merely groping blindly for meaning that might not exist? Ricardou seems to advocate the latter in his latest deconstructionist work, a novel-cum-metafictional guidebook, which owes much to the tradition of the New Novel in its refusal to adhere to any conventional notions of storytelling. A notoriously difficult writer, Ricardou leavens his latest work with a much-needed playfulness as he describes villagers' attempts to construct historical significance based on the implications of the names of the places where they reside. His sentences, freed from the mundane task of propelling the plot forward, shimmer on the page like pearls dug out of the muck of ordinary language. His powers of observation are truly daunting, and his microscopic attention to detail, including the description of a single ant struggling for its life on a diminishing dry spot of rock, make one feel less content to accept meaning and names at face value and more interested in the kind of ruthless examination of the world at which Ricardou excels. Recommended for
literary fiction collections."—Library Journal --Library Journal

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