Since his international breakthrough with 1960's La Route des Flandres, Claude Simon has captivated readers worldwide with his relentless examination of interior life - in particular his own. Breaking from realistic narrative, obsessed with the power (and betrayals) of memory, The Jardin des Plantes is nothing less than an inquiry into what creates each of us. While admitting that there are defining moments in one's life - eight days of battle during World War II was Simon's unforgettable experience - The Jardin des Plantes rings with his refusal to be defined by any single event. His thoughts show the complexity, the fabulous chaos, that makes up the experience of life for Simon and, he insists, for all thinking human beings. These memories - whether everyday minutiae or passages from novels or the staggering experiences of war and death - unreel like films, constantly replaying or stopping and starting according to the whimsical or terrifying nature of his experiences. The juxtapositions may hold meaning, or be nothing more a than a trick of the mind. What is important is that each memory has a place in his mind and each has an effect on his self and the way he projects that self to others. Simon has grappled with the great themes of twentieth-century literature throughout his career. The Jardin des Plantes is a complex novel that demands much, a novel that challenges the reader to question the construction of the self and the life experiences that create us.
About Claude Simon
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Published November 7, 2001
by Northwestern University Press.
Literature & Fiction.