The Divine Child: A Novel of Prenatal Rebellion

Pascal Bruckner, Author, Joachim Neugroschel, Translator Little Brown and Company $21.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-316-11404-2
The tale of a fetus who refuses to leave the womb offers intriguing possibilities, but Bruckner's far-fetched satire ultimately fails to fire the imagination. Seized by an unshakable fear of living, 18-year-old Madeleine Kremer sets out to give her unborn twins ``all possible advantages and diplomas as a suit of armor against happenstance.'' Inundated by the taped data which they are force-fed (``inside each of her orifices... she planted miniature speakers connected to a multitrack deck''), the embryos develop a horror of humanity. When the time comes to leave the womb, Louis sends his sister Celine out alone. Then, threatening to disembowel his mother if she tries to force his birth, Louis holds her hostage. For five years, the ``Celestial Brat'' talks, reads, writes on a computer, etc., while Madeleine inflates grotesquely. The cruel creature keeps the world in thrall and advocates a return to the womb for the entire human race. Bruckner writes like a postmodern Swift, as he lays waste such subjects as mother-child relationships, modern fertility technology, the dichotomy of intellect vs. experience and more. Unfortunately, his satire is an elaborately conceived exercise lacking in sympathy or human identication (unlike Swift's best work); the reader is left safely detached from the ridicule of these vitriolic barbs. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
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