Translated by Jordan Stump
It may not be immediately clear why anyone should bother to demolish Nisard. Who on earth, after all, is Désiré Nisard? A nineteenth-century literary critic, pedagogue, and member of the Académie Française, an ardent champion of the glories of seventeenth-century France, an implacable foe of the literature of his own age, a long-forgotten footnote in literary history. An unprepossessing specimen, to be sure, but what harm can he possibly do us now? You'd be surprised. Those dull books you keep reading? Blame Nisard. Trouble with your significant other? Nisard again. A painful pebble in your shoe? Nisard. No, Désiré Nisard must be destroyed; the only question is how. But take comfort: with effervescent imagination and blistering wit, Eric Chevillard, one of contemporary France's most dazzlingly singular novelists, has come forward to give us a few ideas.
Nb of pages 160 p.
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781564786333
Publication Date 01 August 2011
Nb of pages 160
Dimensions 5.5 x 8 in.
List Price $13.95
According to Désiré Nisard, French literature fell into an irreversible decline with the death of Bossuet and the end of the seventeenth century, an opinion he expresses in 1835, so imagine how things must have gone downhill since, imagine the distaste he would surely have felt for this book, dating as it does from the early years of the twenty-first. And no, it will not be written in the style of the Latin classics so dear to his heart, but such a flaw would have been only the pretext seized on by old two-face Nisard to justify his disdain: we're not that naïve. No great outlay of brain power is required to surmise the true source of his scorn. After all, what is the primary target of the present broadside? Désiré Nisard himself, flushed with shame. And rightly so, for the aim of these pages’ author is clear, and boldly proclaimed from the start: he means to destroy Désiré Nisard, and then his work will be done. That’s a solemn vow. I’m going to sic my dogs on him, loose my falcons, lay waste to his orchards, brutalize his family, do you hear? I’m going to demolish Désiré Nisard.
"Chevillard is not only an extremely funny and witty writer, he also happens to be one of the most fascinating stylists at work in French today. To read him is to expose oneself to serpentine phrases and paragraphs, to crawl on the page, to take the long ride and then the short ride, to enjoy one-sentence haikus, to discover an art of the counterpoint that always catches the reader off guard." —Quarterly Conversation
"What could be more serious and important for an artist than the need to destroy his critics? . . . Chevillard has chosen as target for his ire the destructive Jean Napoléon Désiré Nisard (1806–1888) . . . [and] subverts this obsession into brilliant comedy. Nisard is everywhere . . . We may choose between taking Nisard's side or enlisting to destroy Nisard ourselves . . ." —Le Monde