Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raymond Queneau - Exercises in Style

Thanks for the excellent meeting on Sunday--really great dissection of Sartre, good balance of topics and so forth.  Wish I had more time to go into details here, but as mentioned at the meeting, I'm pretty swamped lately and had to look for an easy escape for next month, something not too time consuming or heavy, but still interesting.... so I picked Raymond Queneau's 1947 classic Exercises in Style for October.  The book is one brief and largely incidental two-paragraph story written in 99 different styles such as mathematical, auditory and ode to mention a few.  I'm not exactly sure how we can go about analyzing it as we've been doing with previous and more "conventional" novels, but I think it'll be an engaging book to discuss (and hopefully read bits from together!) nonetheless.  We'll meet on Sunday, October 9th at 7 PM at the usual spot, Books Inc 2251 Chestnut St.

"A work of genius in a brilliant translation by Barbara Wright....Endlessly fascinating and very funny." --Philip Pullman

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nausea notes & questions

As a bit of an experiment, I thought I'd post my notes for Nausea to the blog ahead of the discussion in the eventuality that it might come in handy.  These are the notes I took while reading with just a bit of retrospection, so please pardon the roughness--be sure to reference the text since the quotes are barely snippets.  This is only tip-of-the-iceberg stuff on a novel with incredible depth...

-1st person, diary format: does it work?
-Is this book basically auto-biographical?  To what extent?
-p22: "Some of these days" ... "nothing can interrupt it but all can break it" -- Theme reprised at end of book
-p34 First bout with Self-Taught Man" -is he real or Antoine's imaginary interlocutor/alter-ego?  Later on, when the Corsican punches Self-Taught Man, is Sartre making a metaphor about Antoine's triumph over ego?
-p37 "something is beginning in order to end"... "I like to see that minute pass"  Great!  What is "adventure?"
-p57 Adventure definition (paraphrased): "growing old w/ woman" -element of the passing of time & irretrievability of past.  Connection to Proust?
-p53 another example of lost time (bottom of page)
-p63 Excellent summation of Antoine & Anny, another example of time
-p70 "Must not think too much about the value of history" and "having made love is much better than making it" -do you agree?
-p84 "I had always realized it; I hadn't the right to exist."  p85 (top): "A right is nothing more than the other aspect of duty."  Do you relate/agree?
-p95 "True nature of the present".... at bottom -any connection to nihilism?
-p117 Categorization of humanists.  Why?  Do you agree?  Does this fit the themes of the book or seem out of place?
-p127 Sartre expounds on the nature of existence: does it hide itself?  Can we only see the ephemera and not the thing in itself?  What is "being?"  Why should we be concerned enough to ask these questions?  Related topics: terror management theory, memento mori, the inability of language to capture essence, Heraclitus ("you cannot step into the same river twice")
-p169 What does it mean to "outlive oneself?"
-Is this basically a love story?  With a person?  With existence?  With both?  Or is it a thinly-veiled philosophy book in the guise of fiction?
-Is the ending satisfactory?

I hope everyone enjoyed this book; I certainly did.  Looking forward to the discussion Sunday!