Themes, Forms and Metamorphoses- Essays in Honour of David Gascoigne
Lorna Milne and Mary Orr
Toby Garfitt - Sylvie Germain: Fable, 'Cri', Echolalia -279
Toby Garfitt Sylvie Germain: Fable, Cri, Echolalia It is common to see the work of Sylvie Germain in terms of a meditation on the twin themes of evil and identity: a lyrical meditation, certainly, but one that is driven by philosophical concerns.1 She has of course spent time as a philosophy teacher, and her novels and essays can be seen as imagina- tive developments of her doctoral thesis with its ethical and metaphysical approach to the world. It can be argued, however, that her primary concern is with language, and more specifically with narrative, its origins, and the conditions of its production and transmission. In his long article on Michel Tournier in Michael Tilby’s volume Beyond the Nouveau Roman, David Gascoigne comments that ‘Tournier […] sees the requirement of writing a text which is less intellectualized, more primal, as a real challenge to a writer. One of his aims has been to cultivate a narrative technique in which the abstract significances of the story are implicit within the telling of the tale rather than made explicit in authorial ref lection or commentary.’2 Very much the same could be said of 1 See, for instance, Mariska Koopman-Thurlings, Sylvie Germain, la hantise du mal (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007). This reference to the ‘face of the other’ is clearly indebted to Levinas, whose Sorbonne lectures Sylvie Germain followed in 1975–6, but the theme of the face is derived even more immediately from her earlier studies of painting and of the Christian mystical tradition: see...
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