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Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books (French Modernist Library) Hardcover – 1 May 1996

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 111 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (1 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803212399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803212398
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,912,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Benabou addresses conflicting impulses between writing and reading, writing and living, following great models and being original. And he has a great deal of gentle self-deprecating fun while doing it. But this isn't just about the wordplay beloved of French modernists. At base it is a lovely book about the love of books and of language and all that goes into making them, be it paper or words."--"Publishers Weekly,"

About the Author

The author (or not) of a dozen books, Marcel Benabou is a professor of ancient history at the University of Paris VII and permanent provisional secretary of Oulipo. David Kornacker is a writer and translator living in New York City. Warren Motte is a professor of French at the University of Colorado.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett on 25 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
A contemporary take on the Proustian 'projet' to seize the evanescent moment or to render one's life decipherable ('lisible'), this is simply delectable - brief as youth itself (unlike childhood, which went on for ever), tender (towards his younger self), and not least extremely funny, as well as being deadly serious (when he writes 'I thought I was free; I was not' I am reminded of the Musset of Confessions d'un Enfant du Siècle). If it does finally dissolve into preciosity (8 synonyms for procrastination!) Bénabou's use of language I can only call sensual, although I know to les anglo-saxons this will mean 'only one thing'. I have to say I'm reading this in the original (all his influences, et pourquoi pas, seem to be either French or German) but if you've ever struggled through L'Etranger, do yourself a favour and try it. My only gripe is when he suggests (p70(top) of the 1986 edition) that words are imbued with a sense of mortality - surely no more than the whole shooting match is and, anyway, music when soft voices die vibrates in the memory - finitude, or the inevitability of 'closure', is all. So it doesn't, finally, 'go anywhere'? Does life?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Arch and poignant metafiction (some will find insufferable) 23 Oct 2001
By Stephen O. Murray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This somewhat autobiographical sort of a novel, first published in French in 1986, won the Black Humor Prize. The most interesting part is a sketch of the author's background--as a child of a Sephardic Jewish family that had been in Morocco for four centuries. He assumed he was destined for greatness (as a writer) and sees this as a sort of ontogeny for the phylogeny of the Chosen People. Both as a 20th-century Jew and as someone who (like Camus) feels lost the paradise of living under the North African sun (living in the dingy, gray Paris of the 1950s), he believes he has a duty to remember.
The book about his nonbooks (the books he didn't write) starts over and starts over and starts over, but, aided by some very apposite quotations about writing from myriad other writers, details the ultimately impossible love of an author who can not bring himself to besmirch beautiful virgin sheets of white paper even to create the literature that would redeem his claim to be a writer.
Many people have realized that being unsuited for writing and even unable to string more than a few words together does not remove the desire to be a writer. Without venturing beyond the struggle with writing ) B?nabou makes being a writer who does not and cannot write archly funny and even poignant.
Life too short for Proust? Meet a fellow procrastinator 25 Oct 2011
By Simon Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An exquisite meditation on writer's block (he even fears not-writing and how this might be interpreted!) this is also an act of love performed on the French language. If you can read French at all, if you've struggled even halfway through the wasteland of L'Etranger, the heady vapours of this equally short book may blow your mind. It's also very, very funny
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