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Histoire by Claude Simon

Histoire (1967)

by Claude Simon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Truthfully the French nobelist Claude Simon is not the easiest writer to read. Oftentimes he eschews punctuation--he runs sentences together and sometimes a paragraph will go on and on for page after page inside of which might be a number of offhanded digressions usually in parentheses that can be diverting, distracting and even occasionally maddening. One needs to read Simon with concentration. He has often been compared to another nobelist William Faulkner--one major difference though being that with Faulkner there usually emerges (at least eventually) some kind of coherent plot line that which when one looks back at the novel as a whole one sees a thread from beginning to end. Not so much with Simon. Like all the best writers Simon is the GOD of his own work. He does what he does and he does it very well and despite the WF comparison Simon's writing is unique to Simon and not something that having read it you will mistake for someone else's. Afterwards it is your turn to play GOD in deciding whether you like it or not. Histoire is one of his better works IMO. Like much of his fiction it is taken from his own personal history. We have some of his usual itinerary. The large dilapidated manor in the countryside with the portraits of his dead ancestors. We have the reminiscing over their lives and deaths--the World War II calvary colonel deliberating walking into the ambush--we return briefly to Spain during the Civil War--we view Barcelona from the deck of a warship and in random--sometimes violent street scenes. The story of his parents romance is told through a collection of postcards that his father (a soldier?--a diplomat?) sends back home to his mother from all over the world. Simon details many of these postcards--the pictures as well as the messages they contain. Much of this can be painful--the suicide of his girlfriend-Helene-throwing herself out of a 4th story window after he goes off to Spain to fight for the republic--his mother's drug abuse. Here Simon is maybe at his most personal and maybe at his most personable. That being said not everyone will like it. For someone who had never read Simon I would recommend one of his shorter works first--The Invitation or Triptych for instance. But even so I thought that this was very good. ( )
  lriley | Feb 17, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Simon, Claudeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mannerkorpi, JukkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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