Continued from HERE.
MY REAL-TIME REVIEW OF JACQUES THE FATALIST (1796) by Denis Diderot CONTINUES BELOW IN THE ‘COMMENTS’ TO THIS POST AS AND WHEN I READ EACH SECTION OF THE WORK.
Pages 32 – 49
“I’ve got the distinct impression that you’re deliberately trying to stop me sticking to the point. If you keep asking questions, we’ll have circled the entire globe before we get to the finish of the tale of my love-life.”
I am unable, of course, to relate every sequitur and non-sequitur of the told plot as well as the untold plot (in fact, the text itself speaks of ‘skipping pages’ which, I assure you, I am not doing!) .
But this book is indeed about INATTENTION not only by someone (you or me?) who is fast becoming a reader even more unreliable than the narrator and than even the author himself! I, for one, feel demeaned as a reader, but then I rustle up my reviewer’s pride big time or real time and assume it’s you not me who’s in the frame. And the inattention between the book’s ostensible characters separate from both the reader and narrator. But, above all, the inattention we all have to the whispers of Destiny. Yes, Destiny talks to us all. Or so this book is making seep into my brain, and despite humouring what here lies behind this book, I am beginning to believe I have been trapped by this book now for good or bad. How about you? (By the way, I was once, in the 1960s, an equivalent of the Poet of Pondicherry!)
“Just because something is absurd doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention.”
Pages 49 – 77
“As Jacques tied the draw-string of his Master’s nightcap,…”
… it was the end of a good morning’s reading as leitmotifs interlace within the quilted gestalt of the plot, some threads ripe for fruition others threatening amputation or, at best, endless bifurcation. This is either a work of genius simply because it has been written down in the 18th century by a writer and endured till today or it is a dog’s breakfast (as I glimpsed being said of it on the back cover of this book) albeit a loveable dog like Nicole…. This section’s woven leitmotifs (of premonitions and divinations, of Jacques’ love-life, his Captain’s ‘death’, his injured knee, of “the man who only had one shirt because he only had one body at a time” etc.) embed a recurring dream or divination or premonition about a gibbet and a hangman, which perhaps brings me full circle to that draw-string?…
“Good leads to evil and evil to good. We stumble along in the dark beneath what is written on high, as crazily yoked to our desires as to our joys and our sorrows.”
“…a spot of justified redistribution. All I did was to find a better home for the books by transferring them from one place where they served no purpose at all to another where someone would make use of them.”
Pages 77 – 97
Until now, I have been page-turningly driven on by the stuttering threads of plot because the narration has been simply, absurdly, thought-provokingly engaging, one of those few landmark reads in one’s lifetime. But in this section I found myself getting bored, tempted even to skip pages, when the landlady’s story started to be told and, despite the many interruptions of servants and tradesmen, continued unabated. I was planning to write a negative review of this section … until I was brought up short on page 97 with: “And you, Reader, feel free to speak your mind, for as you observe, we are in the mood for frank and open exchanges. Do you want to abandon the loquacious, voluble landlady with her elegant turns of phrase and go back to Jacques’s love-life? I myself don’t mind one way or the other.” I wonder if my own particular vote on this score will have any effect when I get round to reading the next section of the book!
Meanwhile, I must transcribe for my real-time review clients an earlier brief but potentially important aside between the landlady and Jacques’ Master which most other readers would probably have skipped over along with all the other boring passages surrounding it, viz: “The Master made a gesture to the landlady by which she understood that Jacques was not all there.”
FROM MY FACEBOOK TODAY
8 hours ago
“If a man doesn’t have genius, then he shouldn’t try to write.”
– from ‘Jacques the Fatalist’ by Denis Diderot
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Rhys Hughes likes this.
Rhys Hughes Also if he doesn’t have a pen.
6 hours ago · Like
Rhys Hughes Or keyboard…
6 hours ago · Like
BF: Or hands.
5 hours ago · Like · 1
GT: If he is illiterate it wont help him to have all the hands, keyboards or pens in the world. He could try stealing other people’s finished manuscripts though and passing them off as his own. That could work.
about an hour ago · Edited · Like
Tony Lovell Oh he should – until then he won’t know if he does or not.
about an hour ago · Like
Tony Lovell Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
about an hour ago · Like
GT: I can think of a number of writers who’ve made a damn fine living at it with no genius in sight. Take Patricia Cornwel for instance.
27 minutes ago · Like
Tony Lovell Also, genius can be in the reader.
11 minutes ago via mobile · Unlike · 1
Des Lewis That’s interesting, Tony, as the book I’m reviewing at the moment – Jacques the Fatalist – gives a lot of responsibility to each reader to be cleverer than the author!
5 minutes ago · Like
Pages 97 – 136
“Is it, then, a tall story?”
And it seems appropriate that any real-time reviewer becomes a reader who deeply desires to fulfil their responsibility to the hilt, in any synergistic duel between book and its reader… But I have failed miserably: thus the sad clownish faces above. You see, Jacques tries to resume his story of the Captain and the Captain’s alter ego, but is foiled by the landlady’s return who imposes the continuation of her own tale of her own alter ego, with the temptation of champagne to oil the wheels of listening…but not oiled enough for me.
And as prophetically, nay, fatalistically ‘dared’ by the author’s narrator earlier, I find myself skipping pages of this book (the first time I have ever done so in a real-time review) but without losing touch with the book’s audit trail, I trust. Notwithstanding the fact that the landlady has “a bosom you could spend a weekend in”…
THIS REAL-TIME REVIEW NOW CONTINUES HERE.
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