The novel was partly inspired by the author's visits to Canada and the United States over a period of six years. It is on this vast American continent, whose wild and tameless beauty Chawaf brilliantly evokes, that Charles de Roquemont, the protagonist of the novel, savagely kills his lover, Esther, in a fit of impotent madness. A few years later, back in Paris, Charles's sexual instincts are reawakened by a screenwriter, Olga Vassilieff, whom he meets one sultry summer night in Monceau Park.
The plot, however, is not Chawaf's only concern. As in her other novels, Chawaf manipulates, kneads, impales, and honeycombs her language to create a masterful allegory of her literary theories and linguistic concepts. The result is a novel that is both cerebral and sensual, both intellectual and visceral.
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