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L'Enquête by Philippe Claudel
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L'Enquête (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Philippe Claudel, Philippe Claudel

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1512179,164 (3.38)22
Member:folivier
Title:L'Enquête
Authors:Philippe Claudel (Author)
Other authors:Philippe Claudel
Info:Livre de Poche
Collections:Your library, A critiquer
Rating:***
Tags:roman, France, absurde, kafkaïen

Work details

The Investigation by Philippe Claudel (2010)

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English (15)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Ordinarily, the Investigator didn’t dream much. His nights were calm, and in the morning, he only rarely remembered his dreams – except for the recurrent one about the copy machine. He was in his office. He needed to create a duplicate copy of an Investigation dossier. He went to the room where the photocopier was located and started to reproduce the documents in the dossier, but the toner cartridge was almost out of ink, and the machine quickly put itself into pause mode. Since he didn’t know how to change the cartridge – his function was to conduct successful Investigations, not to maintain photocopy machines – he stood there helplessly, with no idea what to do.

The Investigation is simultaneously a hilarious delight and a disturbingly dystopian nightmare. The Investigator steps off a train to begin his Investigation at the Enterprise, and from there encounters an unending series of disasters, large and small. Starting with the minor inconvenience of a bartender’s inability to make a hot toddy, the Investigator’s visit to the City goes downhill from there.

Written in a simple, unassuming prose, The Investigation nevertheless brilliantly conveys the absurdity, the hilarity, and the desperation of life. Not terribly well-versed in “Kafkaesque” existentialist literature, I’m not suited to judge how well it stacks up to others of the genre, but I was both completely absorbed and mildly anxious while reading this book. After finishing it, I felt a little like I’d been kicked in the stomach, deflated. And a little sad.

I certainly wouldn’t call the work subtle, but it was nevertheless highly enjoyable, effective, and powerful. ( )
  philosojerk | Jul 20, 2014 |
It is impossible to describe The Investigator without the word Kafkaesque. In fact Kafka with mobile phones might be the most apt description. It is about the Investigator who arrives in an unnamed town to investigate the Enterprise and is thwarted by the Policeman, the Guide, the Manager, and other sundry characters or character types, with the entire novel in the end dissolving into something between postmodernism and hallucination.

It is interesting and readable from beginning to end, some of the scenes are quite funny, and the postmodernism is worn relatively lightly (besides the ocasional aside like when the Investigator says "You're not a policeman. This isn't a luxury hotel. This is not reality. I'm in a novel, or a dream and, what's more, probably not in one of my own dreams but in another's dream, the dream of a complex, perverse being having fun at my expense.") The themes and ideas are not exactly unique, individuality being crushed by modernity as manifested by capitalism, rules, police, etc. But it is still entertaining enough in most places. Although nowhere near as good as Claudel's Brodeck or By a Slow River. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Review based on ARC.

Yup. I really liked this one. So I started reading it, and then kept reading it, and kept reading it, until I was about a third of the way through and realized i was starving. So we went to go eat.

Then I went home and kept reading it.

And here's where it gets trippy. Admittedly, I was exhausted... just... so .... tired. But, see, I kept reading. And I started questioning reality, and my existence, and WHY is that light so bright... and who's keeping my husband away from me? AM I real? What's happening?...

and, normally, I'm not that kind of girl... ;)

Then I was interrupted and was not able to finish until the following evening. Overall, I was very pleased with the book.

And, gosh, what's it about. It is almost an everyman type of story... the characters are identified by their duties. And the Investigator is sent to Investigate an unusual circumstance with the Enterprise. There are, to say the least, obstacles in his efforts to uncover the truth he was sent to investigate. I think I can safely say, just read it. I hate spoilers, especially any hints regarding this kind of book.

But I will say, there are the "surreal" aspects that other mention; it's just that it's more than that. It's an allegory and a warning, and a tale to which many of us can relate. Plus it's creative and thoughtful.

Interestingly, my break in reading the novel occurs around the same time as the Investigator's.... ah, discovery of sorts. The tone seemed to shift. It had a satisfying end. But it just wasn't perfect.

But I Definitely recommend the book.
Definitely. ( )
  avanders | Aug 14, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wow. This book was different. It was a bit surreal. I think it was trying to make a point about humanity the the pointless endeavors we waste out time on. Or not. Not really sure. Everyone and everything in the book had a title but no name. Was it trying to portray that so many of us identify with what we do and not who we are? Still not sure if I liked it or not. ( )
  readafew | Jul 31, 2012 |
It is impossible to describe The Investigator without the word Kafkaesque. In fact Kafka with mobile phones might be the most apt description. It is about the Investigator who arrives in an unnamed town to investigate the Enterprise and is thwarted by the Policeman, the Guide, the Manager, and other sundry characters or character types, with the entire novel in the end dissolving into something between postmodernism and hallucination.

It is interesting and readable from beginning to end, some of the scenes are quite funny, and the postmodernism is worn relatively lightly (besides the ocasional aside like when the Investigator says "You're not a policeman. This isn't a luxury hotel. This is not reality. I'm in a novel, or a dream and, what's more, probably not in one of my own dreams but in another's dream, the dream of a complex, perverse being having fun at my expense.") The themes and ideas are not exactly unique, individuality being crushed by modernity as manifested by capitalism, rules, police, etc. But it is still entertaining enough in most places. Although nowhere near as good as Claudel's Brodeck or By a Slow River. ( )
  jasonlf | Jul 21, 2012 |
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Epigraph
Seek nothing. Forget.
--Henri-Georges Clouzot, L'Enfer
Dedication
For those to come so they won't be next
First words
When the Investigator left the train station, a fine rain mingled with melting snow greeted him.
Quotations
But thinking is sometimes like running an empty washing machine: The exercise may serve to verify proper function, but the dirty laundry left outside the machine stays dirty eternally.
Order doesn't exist without the concept of society. People often think the reverse, but they're wrong. Man created order at a time when nothing was required of him. He thought himself clever. He's had cause to regret it.
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Book description
The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively—in short, he is unremarkable in every way. He has been assigned to conduct an Investigation of a series of suicides (twenty-two in the past eighteen months) that have taken place at the Enterprise, a huge, sprawling complex located in an unnamed Town. The Investigator's train is delayed, and when he finally arrives, there's no one to pick him up at the station. It is alternating rain and snow, it's getting late, and there are no taxis to be seen. Off sets the Investigator, alone, into the night, unsure quite how to proceed.
So begins the Investigator's series of increasingly frustrating attempts to fulfill his task. In the course of hours of wandering looking for the entrance to The Enterprise, he bumps into a stranger hurrying past and spills open his luggage, soaking his clothes. When he finally reaches the Enterprise, he is told he does not posses the proper authorization documents to enter after regular hours. Asking for directions to a hotel, he is informed "We're not the Tourist Office," and must set off to find one himself. Time and time again, regulations hamstring him, street layouts befuddle him, and all the while he senses someone watching him, recording his every movement.
In a highly original work that is both absorbing and fascinating, Claudel undertakes a sweeping critique of the contemporary world through a variety of modes. Like Kafka, Beckett, and Huxley, he has crafted a dark fable that evokes the absurdity and alienation of existence with piercing intelligence and considerable humour.

~ From Wikipedia
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A wild, Kafka-esque romp through a dystopian landscape, probing the darkly comic nature of the human condition. The Investigator is a man quite like any other. He is balding, of medium build, dresses conservatively--in short, he is unremarkable in every way. He has been assigned to conduct an Investigation of a series of suicides (twenty-two in the past eighteen months) that have taken place at the Enterprise, a huge, sprawling complex located in an unnamed Town. The Investigator's train is delayed, and when he finally arrives, there's no one to pick him up at the station. It is alternating rain and snow, it's getting late, and there are no taxis to be seen. Off sets the Investigator, alone, into the night, unsure quite how to proceed. So begins the Investigator's series of increasingly frustrating attempts to fulfill his task. In the course of hours of wandering looking for the entrance to The Enterprise, he bumps into a stranger hurrying past and spills open his luggage, soaking his clothes. When he finally reaches the Enterprise, he is told he does not posses the proper authorization documents to enter after regular hours. Asking for directions to a hotel, he is informed "We're not the Tourist Office," and must set off to find one himself. Time and time again, regulations hamstring him, street layouts befuddle him, and all the while he senses someone watching him, recording his every movement.… (more)

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