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Demolishing Nisard (French Literature)by Eric Chevillard
Synopses & Reviews
It may not be immediately clear why anyone should bother to demolish Nisard. Who on earth, after all, is Désiré Nisard? A nineteenth-century literary critic, pedagogue, and member of the Académie Française, an ardent champion of the glories of seventeenth-century France, an implacable foe of the literature of his own age, a long-forgotten footnote in literary history. An unprepossessing specimen, to be sure, but what harm can he possibly do us now? You'd be surprised. Those dull books you keep reading? Blame Nisard. Trouble with your significant other? Nisard again. A painful pebble in your shoe? Nisard. No, Désiré Nisard must be destroyed; the only question is how. But take comfort: with effervescent imagination and blistering wit, Eric Chevillard, one of contemporary France's most dazzlingly singular novelists, has come forward to give us a few ideas.
"This whimsical broadside by Chevillard (The Crab Nebula) directed against the 19th-century traditionalist litÃ©rateur DÃ©sirÃ© Nisard is the equivalent of a Gallic smack down: a fun, highly staged, fantastical vaudeville act, complete with the requisite salvos directed at Nisard's ancestry, birth, sexual proclivities, and of course his entire unfortunate literary legacy. But this manifesto is also an earnest endeavor, as the erstwhile critic's 'disseminated ideas mingle with the air around us just as the atoms of his decomposed corpse mingled with the earth,' simultaneously a cathartic rant and a tongue-in-cheek quest, as our all-consumed narrator sets out single-mindedly to unearth an elusive copy of Nisard's 'lascivious tale' A Milkmaid Succumbs. 'Nisard's ribaldry bespeaks clearly enough the poverty of his imagination: his very libido inspires in him only the most pitifully banal sort of fantasy.' Aided by Jordan Stump's vivacious translation, which captures equally both the verve and the tomfoolery of the original, this tragicomic manifesto reads like a good farce peppered with some heartfelt cultural criticism and a copious serving of existential angst. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
What could be more serious and important for an artist than the need to destroy his critics? . . . Chevillard has chosen as target for his ire the destructive Jean Napoléon Désiré Nisard (1806–1888) . . . [and] subverts this obsession into brilliant comedy. Nisard is everywhere . . . We may choose between taking Nisard’s side or enlisting to destroy Nisard ourselves.Chevillard is not only an extremely funny and witty writer, he also happens to be one of the most fascinating stylists at work in French today. To read him is to expose oneself to serpentine phrases and paragraphs, to crawl on the page, to take the long ride and then the short ride, to enjoy one-sentence haikus, to discover an art of the counterpoint that always catches the reader off guard.
New work from the acclaimed author of The Crab Nebula and Palafox.
New work from the acclaimed author of and .
About the Author
Eric Chevillard was born in 1964 in La Roche-sur-Yon in the west of France. He published his first novel, Mourir m'enrhume (Dying Gives Me a Cold), at the age of twenty-three, and has since gone on to publish more than twenty works of fiction, including The Crab Nebula, On the Ceiling, Palafox, and Demolishing Nisard.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.
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