Eight novels, four essays, two collections of poetry, a story, an interview… Here are the brief reviews of sixteen notable works in this twenty-second week of the year.
Anthology. “Animals in History”
Collection of articles published in the monthly The story since 1980, this overview of the place that historians have given to animals – rats, elephants, cats, dogs, horses, hens, camels, pigs… – presents the advantages and disadvantages of this type of volume. Neglected for a long time, the historical bestiary, recalls Eric Baratay, experienced from the mid-1970s a “strong expansion”, as evidenced by the texts he brings together here, in which some of the best French historians, from Philippe Contamine to Daniel Roche, Jean-Marc Moriceau or Michel Pastoureau, engage in a virtuoso clearing. But, precisely, their work has proved to be so fruitful that much research has been carried out in its wake, and that some of these texts, however fascinating, would have deserved an update. Fl.Go
“Animals in History”, anthology by Eric Baratay, Tallandier/L’Histoire, 284 p., €21.50, digital €16.
Novel. Save the Fire by Guillermo Arriaga
For having killed his father, who had raised him the hard way, then eliminated a corrupt policeman, José Cuauthemoc is serving a long sentence in a prison in Mexico. Charismatic, intrepid, he discovered a passion for writing during a workshop. For her part, Marina, a bourgeois mother and controversial choreographer, is bored in the routine of her couple, until she goes to present her work at the prison. The fire which is born between the protagonists justifies all the excesses, which Arriaga, novelist and scriptwriter, stirs up, all flames out. Breathtaking, disturbing, funny too, this story peppered with sex, fights and revenge – especially between rival gangs of narcos – does not go out of its way to illustrate Mexican violence once again. Until love, which devours everything. Ar.S.
“Save the fire” (Salvar el fuego), by Guillermo Arriaga, translated from Spanish (Mexico) by Alexandra Carrasco, Fayard, 760 p., €26, digital €18.
Interviews. “A Short History of French Literature”, by Michel Butor
In 2007, Michel Butor (1926-2016) granted an interview on the history of French literature to a specialist in his work, Lucien Giraudo. This exchange today gives rise to a paperback which, without claiming to be exhaustive, offers a “cavalier” view of it, from the Middle Ages to the middle of the 20th century.e century, coupled with insights and excerpts. The author of The modification (Minuit, 1957) challenges the romantic myth of the single author. He also analyzes the evolution of the novelistic genre, boasts of somewhat forgotten feathers like Fontenelle… Excellent to study, especially before the French baccalaureate! Dec.
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