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palafox

Palafox

by

Translated from by

Published: June 2004

$15.00 $9.99$12.00

ISBN: 9780972869249 eISBN: 9781935744115
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“The current American new fabulism could learn a great deal from this very amusing book and its willingness to take real narrative risks…Beautifully translated by Wyatt Mason, Palafox is a must for anyone intersted in anti-realist fiction.”
Rain Taxi

 

“Eric Chevillard involves his reader in a powerful meditation on evil, foolishness, and inhumanity lurking in the heart of man.”
Jean-Maurice de Montremy

 

“Imagine a comedy of manners, a supernatural tale, a sly commentary on science’s quest for knowledge, a sad story about a creature that seems to possess characteristics common to marsupials, reptiles, and amphibians, not to mention insects and humans, and you have an inkling of what Eric Chevillard has done in his dark, disturbing, delightful, downright funny story of Palafox. Now mix into this brew some of Ronald Firbank’s verbal fireworks, Italo Calvino’s imaginative flights of exquisite writing, and Raymond Roussel’s weird deadpan logic, and you get a little more of an inkling.”
—John Yau

Book Description

“Décapsule un oeuf.” (“Pop open an egg.”) Enter Palafox.

Eric Chevillard’s visionary play of word and thought has been compared to the work of Beckett, Michaux, and Pinget, yet the universe he spins is utterly his own. Palafox (Editions de Minuit, 1990), Chevillard’s third novel of eleven, explores the ecosystem of an unclassifiable yet enchanting, protean creature. A team of “experts” armed with degrees of higher learning is determined to label, train, pamper, baptize, and realize the elusive creature, while Palafox—driven by his own interior logic and flanked by another dimension for the most part on his side—effortlessly and wordlessly defies them all.

Imagine a comedy of manners, a supernatural tale, a sly commentary on science's quest for knowledge, a sad story about a creature that seems to possess characteristics common to marsupials, reptiles, and amphibians, not to mention insects and humans, and you have an inkling of what Eric Chevillard has done in his dark, disturbing, delightful, downright funny story of Palafox. Now mix into this brew some of Ronald Firbank's verbal fireworks, Italo Calvino's imaginative flights of exquisite writing, and Raymond Roussel's weird deadpan logic, and you get a little more of an inkling.

John Yau


Eric Chevillard involves his reader in a powerful meditation on evil, foolishness, and inhumanity lurking in the heart of man.

Jean-Maurice de Montremy


The current American new fabulism could learn a great deal from this very amusing book and its willingness to take real narrative risks...Beautifully translated by Wyatt Mason, Palafox is a must for anyone intersted in anti-realist fiction.

Rain Taxi


Beautifully written . . . toys with the line between real and surreal . . . The prose is simultaneously smooth and startling. . . Mason’s translation is stunning.

Bookslut


The fun to be had in Palafox is more along the lines of that spark of pleasure found in a well-aimed cutting remark, or in that spark of insight when, after looking at a painting for 10 minutes, you suddenly realize you’ve just seen something. 

Conversational Reading


Elegant . . . Whimsical. . . . Reminiscent of Julio Cortázar and Borges. . . . Sentences caper musically to intricate patterns of wordplay.

Review of Contemporary Fiction




A great piece on translating Chevillard on If Verso

France’s Foremost Absurdist

by Francois monti in The Quarterly Conversation 

Désiré Nisard must be destroyed: someone must put an end to his nefarious influence on literature and free the world from his corrupting sway on its affairs. This is exactly what the narrator is setting out to do. He hunts him down as an undesired infant, shames him as the writer of an appalling erotic romance, laughs him off as a footman to his country’s varying political masters, boos him along with his unfortunate students, and denounces him as a reactionary critic. But anger and righteous indignation is not enough: physical annihilation is on the cards. But how on earth do you kill a man who died 119 years ago?

The writer of this strange tale, 43-year-old Eric Chevillard, is, along with Jean-Philippe Toussaint and Jean Echenoz, one of the writers who in the mid 1980s rejuvenated the prestigious French publisher Editions de Minuit—home to the New Novelists Butor, Sarraute, and Robbe-Grillet, as well as Samuel Beckett. With them, this famous publishing house proved that there was life after the New Novel, that it was still possible to question traditional narratives while breaking the mold created by the likes of Robbe-Grillet and Claude Simon. The importance of Chevillard et al. remains largely ignored outside of the French-speaking world, maybe because it’s impossible to consider them as being part of a group or a movement, most certainly because none of them will ever write a manifesto.

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