Author(s): Julien Gracq
It is the fall of 1939, and Lieutenant Grange and his men are living in a chalet above a concrete bunker deep in the Ardennes forest, charged with defending the French-Belgian border against the Germans in a war that seems unreal, distant, and unlikely. Far more immediate is the earthy life of the forest itself and the deep sensations of childhood it recalls from Grange's memory. Ostensibly readying for war, Grange instead spends his time observing the change in seasons, falling in love with a young free-spirited widow named Mona, and contemplating the absurd stasis of his present condition. This novel of long takes, dream states, and little dramatic action culminates abruptly in battle, an event that is as much the real incursion of the German army into France as it is the sudden intrusion of death into the suspended disbelief of life. Richard Howard's skilled translation captures the fairy-tale delicacy and existential dread of this unusual, elusive novel (first published in 1959) by the supreme prose stylist Julian Gracq.Story Locale- France and Belgium
Set during World War II, this novel describes the disquiet and dread of a French lieutenant and his men, deep in the forest on the French-Belgian border, waiting for the war to begin.
Julien Gracq (1910-2007), whose real name was Louis Poirier, was a French geographer and historian, and the author of four novels, poetry, and a play. His work was influenced by surrealism, and he dedicated his first novel, The Castle of Argol, to AndrU Breton. In 1951 he won the Prix Goncourt for his third and best-known novel, The Opposing Shore (though he refused to accept the prize). He taught at LycUe Claude-Bernard for twenty-three years.Richard Howard is the author of seventeen volumes of poetry and has published more than one hundred and fifty translations from the French, including, for NYRB, Marc Fumaroli's When the World Spoke French, Balzac's Unknown Masterpiece, and Maupassant's Alien Hearts and Like Death. He is a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner. He lives in New York City.