Warren Motte Marie Cosnay's Villa Chagrin (2006), the third title in a body of work that now includes eleven books, may not be a roman-fleuve in the strict sense of that term (indeed it may not even be a novel), but a river most certainly runs through it, from first page to last. That river is the Adour, as seen from its right bank, across from Bayonne, in a place called Saint-Esprit. At some seventy-five pages, this text is certainly no Jean-Christophe, no Chronique des Pasquier. Nonetheless, it flows in full spate, picking up and melding along its way an impressive variety of narrative currents: the story of the painter Bram van Velde and his companion, Marthe Arnaud-Kuntz; an examination of the nature of disaster, conceived both as a collective phenomenon and as a personal one; a love story wherein absence looms far larger than presence; a meditation on the image and the fate of the image in representation; a parable of writing and its uses; and more besides. Like the Adour, Villa Chagrin is very fluid, very dynamic. Its author, a classicist by profession, is well placed to understand why a river seemed so apt to Heraclitus
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Oct 11, 2013
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