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Die Bewohner des Rechtecks: Claude Simons ‚Album d’un amateur’

Irene Albers


Pages 181 - 198



Claude Simon’s ‘Album d’un amateur’ (1988) has hardly been noticed so far by scholars and researchers. The article offers a new reading of the work, whose principal aim consists not only in relating the ‘Album d’un amateur’ to Simon’s fictional universe, but also in revealing its programmatic character, insofar as Simon imparts a multi-medial dimension to his theoretical reflections on art and literature. Following his own remarks on “Novelli and the problem of language” (1966), he elaborates a significant ‘return to the concrete’ by the texts and images of his “album”. In order to achieve this aim in the disposition of his work and the selection of photographs he resorts to the characteristic motif of the chessboard-like coloured surfaces, and, on all levels of his ‘Album’, evokes a conflict between geometrical order and formlessness, abstraction and concretization, timelessness and temporality, rectangular forms and arabesques. Order – also the aesthetic abstractions of a painter like Mondrian – is associated with violence and presented as the negation of an amorphous and ruinous materiality. This impure and material poetry in Simon’s oeuvre comes closer to Roger Caillois’ “écriture des pierres” than to Jean Ricardou’s exclusive productivity of the text.

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