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Book Title: Moj prijatelj Pjero|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 476 KB
v The author of the book: Raymond Queneau
Edition: Narodna knjiga
Date of issue: 2002
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books Moj prijatelj Pjero:Pierrot, the classical Pierrot, from the Commedia dell'arte, always loses the girl in the end to the more physically beguiling and wily Harlequin. Pierrot is a little more naive and bumbling than Harlequin anyway, what with H’s acrobatics, lithe body, and fancy diamond-emblazoned costume. Pierrot is always clownishly decked in his white body-suit with frilly collar, not too manly to say the least, and while Watteau did him justice, he never really received the grand oil and canvas fame that Harlequin got from the likes of Cezanne and Picasso. Still, one seems to root for poor little Pierrot, although we know that in the end the pretty girl never really wanted him anyway, and though Harlequin always comes away with the prize, there is something about the suffering-in-solitude of Pierrot that is a bit more endearing, I mean in the whole life-as-pantomime deal.*
Pierrot Mon Ami was my first Queneau, and I’m hooked. In addition to this being one of the sweetest, most charming little books I’ve read, it is also strikingly intelligent. Queneau (and of course when I say Queneau you must understand I am also speaking of Barbara Wright, who did this lovely translation) can go from phrases like “socked him in the kisser” and “cake hole” to words like “pilosity”, “dorsal”, and “crepitating” within the same paragraph, and it all seems a natural progression. Queneau’s brilliance isn’t showy, it’s all in the service of a very achingly human story here, and a strange, unique one at that; there is something of a sadness resonating behind all the funny little coincidences and encounters, such as in a scene where Pierrot finds Yvonne by chance in a small town outside of Paris, and a little beam of starlight, described as tired from its thousands of years of journeying, hits her on the nose and reveals her identity to the lost and wandering protagonist. It’s things like that, little subtleties of romanticism, that are daubed here and there throughout this tale that give it a lovely radiance.
There’s this kind of meandering melancholic joy that occurs in some good French storytelling- I’m thinking of Truffaut’s Doinel series, or especially Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot films (a contemporary incarnation I suppose would be something like “Amelie”, don’t know why all my examples are cinematic, but Pierrot did say he mainly liked going to the movies)- that Queneau’s Pierrot gets perfect here. It’s not resignation or indifference really, it’s a kind of wandering through life’s obstacles, obscurities, frustrations, oddities- bad luck, good luck, richness and poorness- with a kind of straight-faced not giving a damn, or letting the giving a damn subside to the wonder at the flow of events. Maybe it’s actually longing for something we can’t have, or never could have had, but that seems all around us all the time, and the longing being enough? I don’t know, read this book. It’s wonderful.
*Jed Perl wrote a brilliant book on this and all things Watteau called Antoine’s Alphabet: Watteau and His World. Check it out, it’s beautiful.
Read information about the authorQueneau was born in Le Havre in 1903 and went to Paris when he was 17. For some time he joined André Breton's Surrealist group, but after only a brief stint he dissociated himself. Now, seeing Queneau's work in retrospect, it seems inevitable. The Surrealists tried to achieve a sort of pure expression from the unconscious, without mediation of the author's self-aware "persona." Queneau's texts, on the contrary, are quite deliberate products of the author's conscious mind, of his memory, his intentionality.
Although Queneau's novels give an impression of enormous spontaneity, they were in fact painstakingly conceived in every small detail. He even once remarked that he simply could not leave to hazard the task of determining the number of chapters of a book. Talking about his first novel, Le Chiendent (usually translated as The Bark Tree), he pointed out that it had 91 sections, because 91 was the sum of the first 13 numbers, and also the product of two numbers he was particularly fond of: 7 and 13.
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