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Shelves: favorites , queneau , infinite-books Only one book has ever changed my life god, if only things were so simple that a book could change your life! It certainly didnt unearth profound aspects of my personality that until that point were latent, it didnt give me any guiding path in life to tread, it didnt suddenly instill value into things that I before considered to be without value.
That Joyce was kind enough, generous enough, to create a work so complex, that resonates on so many levels and in so many poetic and humorous and satiric and intellectual and dramatic tones; and most of all, best of all, that he demands that his reader work a fraction as hard as he did. Because he knew that what he possessed inside himself, if expressed correctly, was capable of bringing a shimmer of aesthetic recognition across the imagination unlike anything that had come before or after.
There really is only literature before- and after-Joyce, no matter your opinions on Ulysses itself. It is the Theory of Relativity for the arts. It destroyed and absorbed everything that came before it and influenced everything that came after. His reckoning with Joyce came after his graduation from the Sorbonne with a degree in philosophy and mathematics, where one of his great influences was Hegel. The particulars of the universe are always coming into being by a process through which they are in a contradictory communication with what they relate to, come into contact with.
I assure you all this babble is leading to something. I hope. That is to say it necessarily begins anew. So what does an extremely intelligent human being interested in writing literature after the reckoning with Joyce do? Joyce himself had no recourse but, after annihilating the novel, to annihilate language itself that is, create it anew with Finnegans Wake. But what do the rest of us do?
We look at literature with new eyes, we look for where it can go now. I think that is exactly the point Queneau was making with Exercises In Style. It attempts an observation and notation of what exactly language can do with fiction post-Joyce. Beckett did this too. Many people did this, are doing this. This is what postmodernism is all about, coming to terms with Joyce. An utterly banal scene is recounted 99 times, in 99 styles.
In these 99 recitations of the same scene we begin finally to focus on the medium and not the message, or the Hegelian contradiction or dialogue between the medium and the message or lack of message. In some ways, the really revolutionary aspect of Exercises In Style is that it is so not revolutionary- it retells a scene that any of us might observe on any given day- but that it poses questions about the fundamentals of our reading experience, and therefore our living experience.
Esercizi di stile. Testo francese a fronte
Esercizi di stile
Esercizi di stile
In breve: “Esercizi di stile” di Raymond Queneau