Television by Jean-Philippe Toussaint

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The amusingly odd protagonist and narrator of Jean-Philippe Toussaint's novel is an academic on sabbatical in Berlin to work on his book about Titian. With his research completed, all he has left to do is sit down and write. Unfortunately, he can't decide how to refer to his subject--Titian, le Titien, Vecellio, or Titian Vecellio--so instead he starts watching TV continuously, until one day he decides to renounce the most addictive of twentieth-century inventions.

As he spends his summer still not writing his book, he is haunted by television, from the video surveillance screens in a museum to a moment when it seems everyone in Berlin is tuned in to Baywatch.

One of Toussaint's funniest antiheroes, the protagonist of Television turns daily occurrences into an entertaining reflection on society and the influence of television on our lives.

About Jean-Philippe Toussaint

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Jean-Philippe Toussaint is the author of nine novels, and the winner of numerous literary prizes, including the Prix Décembre for The Truth about Marie. His writing has been compared to the works of Samuel Beckett, Jacques Tati, the films of Jim Jarmusch, and even Charlie Chaplin. Jordan Stump is the noted translator of several modern French novelists, including novel prize winner Claude Simon, for whom his translation of Le Jardin des Plantes won the French American Foundation's Translation Prize. Warren F. Motte is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Colorado. He is the author of The Poetics of Experiment: A Study of the Work of Georges Perec, Questioning Edmond Jabès, Playtexts: Ludics in Contemporary Literature, and Small Worlds. He has also edited an issue of SubStance dedicated to the work of Jacques Jouet.
Published March 1, 2007 by Dalkey Archive Press. 168 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Television

Kirkus Reviews

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The unnamed narrator is an art historian working in Berlin while his pregnant partner Delon and his young son enjoy an Italian vacation.

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The New York Times

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The narrator of "Nightjohn," a 12-year-old slave girl named Sarny, is the ideal guide into this jewel of a family film.

Jun 01 1996 | Read Full Review of Television

The New York Times

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Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn), an alternative-music D.J., is the city’s most zealous booster and snob: a jazz-loving, pot-smoking bon vivant who torments his bourgeois, gentrifying neighbors and denounces his radio station’s new headquarters in what he describes as “the completely soulless, faux-Fre...

Apr 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Television

The New York Times

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Lane (Robyn Lively) comes from a modest middle-class family that has left her a modest middle-class inheritance: Peyton (Jamie Luner) has grown up in Reese's mansion because her mother, Lucille (Wendy Phillips), is the housekeeper.

Feb 10 1996 | Read Full Review of Television

The New York Times

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he anonymous narrator of Jean-Philippe Toussaint's slender fifth novel is plagued by a very modern quandary: to watch or not to watch?

Jan 02 2005 | Read Full Review of Television

Publishers Weekly

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Or so he believes, but he is distracted by doing nothing ("Doing nothing, contrary to what people rather simplistically imagine, is a thing that requires method and discipline") and exhausted by watching the French Open ("I was no longer physically up to five sets of tennis"), finally realizing t...

Oct 18 2004 | Read Full Review of Television

Austin Chronicle

Despite his having ostensibly quit cold turkey, there is no escaping its tenacious reach: surveillance monitors in a museum, his continued perusing of the TV guide, or the subject of his research, the painter Titian Vecellio, whose initials are subliminal but inescapable.

Nov 12 2004 | Read Full Review of Television

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