Book Review – Hallucinating Foucault

Book Review – Hallucinating Foucault

Title – Hallucinating Foucault

Genre – Literary Fiction

Author – Patricia Duncker

Published 1996

Rating 10/10

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Wow! Just – wow!

I first read this novel about twenty years ago. I was impressed, yes, and some images stayed with me, but I remember feeling uncomfortable and slightly bemused.

In retrospect, I can see why that was; for all sorts of reasons I lacked the emotional generosity to respond authentically to a challenging love story – for, at its heart, ‘Hallucinating Foucault’ is a love story.

It’s a simple, linear narrative, the quest of a young scholar to find and free Paul Michel, the writer whose works have enthralled him.

Or is it?

The quest story lies nestled in a story of old passions; the passion of a man for his first love; the passion of an artist for his art; the passionate need of a writer for his ideal reader. By the time we reach the last page we can see a monumental structure, solid as concrete, against which the hapless scholar has been mercilessly broken. We can make out seductive whispers, just below the threshold of audibility, blaming Fate and denying human responsibility, even as they admit human agency.

We never learn the name of the scholar. It is as though he exists only in relation to Paul Michel. And yet, we care. I cared passionately for him. I shuddered with trepidation as the inevitable denouement approached. I wept at his destruction.

Few books have moved me like this one. Few books have given me such delight by the sheer quality of their writing.

Read this novel for its superlative writing. Read this novel for its insights into human love and life. But, above all, read this novel for pleasure; it’s a delight.

What Pegman Saw – There’s a Note

I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone with this week’s story, set in Cordoba, Argentina!

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

WPS There's a Note 171104

There’s a Note

Inspector Herrera lifted the body and winced. The young woman had driven the knife so violently into her chest that the blade emerged from her back.

“There’s a note, sir.”

The handwriting was firm, towards the end almost scoring through the paper.

“Antonio,

Don’t you remember those summer nights of laughter? When La Barra played cuarteto and we danced?

Don’t you remember how we stood tall with courage and won the respect of your parents?

Don’t you remember how we became one, body and soul?

Don’t you remember?

You have betrayed my love! And for whom? For that slut Maria!

I will not live without you, Antonio; and I curse you. Not to be impotent, and your whore barren; no, you will have children – but you will bury every one of them.

And now I die, taking the first of your bastards in my body to the grave.”