Item description for Chateau d'Argol by Julien Gracq...
The gothic setting of a lonely castle in the middle of thick, dense woods, not far from the rough and inaccessible seashore, contrasts with the contemporaneity of the characters who inhabit it: a dissolute, rich and aimless young man who invites his best friend to stay in his newly-acquired chateau. The friend arrives with a beautiful woman whose detached amorality disturbs both men.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 6.3" Width: 4.72" Height: 0.55" Weight: 0.35 lbs.
Release Date Oct 30, 1999
Publisher Pushkin Press
ISBN 1901285146 ISBN13 9781901285147
Reviews - What do customers think about Chateau d'Argol?
A Superb Extended Poem In Prose Feb 26, 2007
Julien Gracq's *Chateau d'Argol*, the author's first published work, appeared in 1939. In a lecture to Yale University students a few years later, Andre Breton, the leader of the Surrealist movement, cited the work as an example that summarized "the extent of Surrealism's conquest". By this, Breton was no doubt referring to two of Surrealism's great pre-modern sources of inspiration, the Gothic novel and Romanticism. From Breton, this was no scant praise. No doubt, however, that those who, like the reviewer below, have "studied Surrealism for six months", know better than Breton.... ;-)
*Chateau d'Argol* is a tale of three friends, and of a disturbing menage-a-trois turned violent. In good Romantic/Gothic fashion, the changes in the richly described landscapes mirror the turbulent alterations in the characters' inner states. The setting is a lonely castle in an area of Brittany that is simultaneously real and imaginary, in that Gracq unites disparate elements of the Breton landscape and situates them in a locale of his memory-based imaginings.
The philosophy of Hegel also figures prominently in this story of doubles and opposites, of dialectical antitheses and syntheses. In addition, the author creates a strange mood of detachment through his use of third-person narrative throughout (there is not a word of dialogue in the book) that contrasts with the rich and opulent descriptive writing. Indeed, for me, the most strking and rewarding aspect of this work is its gorgeous, richly hued language, its superbly evocative and poetic narrative. Of course, there are false notes on occasion, some of which may be the fault of the translator, but, on the whole, Gracq succeeds in sustaining a hypnotically beautiful tapestry of language.
In sum, those who move their lips while reading, such as the previous reviewer, should avoid this book. Others, however, who appreciate elevated and elegant poetic language, and who find intriguing the idea of a confluence of the Gothic, the Romantic, and the Surreal, will find themselves beholding a rare jewel of 20th-Century literature.
A note on the edition: Pushkin Press has produced a luxurious little pocket volume. Sewn bindings in paperbound books are almost as rare as the Dodo, these days. Why the mouth-breather, below (is there any need to mince words?) is unable to handle his copy without mutilating it, I cannot understand.
The sole fault of this edition is that it does, indeed, inexplicably omit Gracq's "Notice to the Reader", a brief forward or afterword (it is difficult to tell which) in which Gracq takes an ironic tone toward those who have misread, or who may misread, his book, and affirms the inspiration that he derived from the works of Poe, Radcliffe, and Horace Walpole.
My take.... Dec 13, 2006
I'd have to disagree with the past reviewers. I just completed a 6 month study of surrealism and this was one of the worst books I read from this period. He describes the same blades of light cutting in through the same castle windows at least a hundred times and the book is only 148 pages. Don't even get me started on the forest. I like the story itself, but execution was lacking. He reminded me of Henry James, writing in circles when he could just get to the point.
Apparently, according to Herman Rapaport's "Is There Truth in Art?," there is an introduction penned by the author which is not included in this edition. Also, the thick cardstock cover has flaps folded in on the front and back that make it a difficult little book to hold without bending the book terribly. These flaps fold back almost to the spine of the book. I personally don't like to mangle my books in any way and appreciate book companies that allow me to accomplish this goal. I have other Pushkin books and they are the same.
I would give it two and a half stars, but since they don't have that option I'm going to have to go with two.
intriguing Jul 8, 2004
This is very interesting. I shouldn't even bother trying to describe it... very descriptive, no dialogue, dreamlike, surrealist, heavily inspired by german idealism, but in mostly good ways.
If you like Breton... this is further out there. very dark.
cool book design too.
Why am I the first person to review this book? Apr 3, 2002
The only important novelist France has produced since World War Two. Julien Green would be the other one if he weren't an American.