cover image A Winter's Journal

A Winter's Journal

Emmanuel Bove. Marlboro Press, $77 (219pp) ISBN 978-0-8101-6046-0

All but forgotten today, the cheerless French novels of Bove (nee Bobovnikoff, 1898-1945) were much admired among certain intellectual Modernists in Europe. In this 1931 novel, the ""Bovian narrator"" is immediately recognizable: a heartless master of self-pity, in this case a Parisian aristocrat, Louis Grandeville, with no apparent profession save supercilious scrutiny of the people who revolve in his tight orbit, especially and most unfortunately his young wife, Madeleine. Over several months, from October to February, Grandeville records the dreary details of his emotionally moribund marriage. While capable of moments of true self-perception (""What terrifies me is that I'm constantly unhappy, and yet always act like a happy man""), Grandeville more often projects his pathological neediness on his wife, effectively choking any feeling the hounded woman has for him (""I would interrupt myself to address her sharply, `Isn't that right, you don't love me?'""). This novel can certainly be read as historical evidence of the hazards of women's dependence on men. More likely, as Keith Botsford argues in his thorough defense of Bove, the writer's resurrected oeuvre will be read for its singular influence on the work of such writers as Samuel Beckett and Peter Handke. (Apr.)