The Salon in Wurttemberg

Pascal Quignard, Author Grove/Atlantic $21.95 (274p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1317-7
A bestseller in France, awarded the Guttenbergok Prize, Quignard's first novel to appear in English is a free-associative stream of lush prose, mixing memory and desire, nightmare and remorse. Narrator Charles Chenogne, a cellist in his early 40s, has returned home to Bergheim in Wurttemberg to write a memoir dominated by his relationship with his beloved friend Florent Seinece. The two met in the army in 1963 when Charles was 21, Seinece 24. Charmed by Seinece (a connoisseur of candies, who often playfully breaks into nursery songs), Charles perversely confirms his affection by sleeping with Seinece's wife, Isabelle, (``Ibelle''), so destroying the marriage and the friendship. The affair cools when Charles and Isabelle weary of ``ceaseless sensuality . . . like a festering wound.'' Charles is left glumly to wander, ruminate, fail at love and bury himself in his music, until a last reunion with Seinece. Copious references to word play, art, music and history give a certain erudite preciosity to this inchoate memoir, with each of its chapters set in a different location--e.g., a hunting chalet in the Loire, the Wurttenburg salon--and redolent of Charles's childhood. Quignard is an editor at Gallimard in Paris. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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