pierre guyotat

The French novelist Pierre Guyotat, who was born in 1940, raises disturbing questions about violence, lasciviousness, intellectual liberty and the future of human society. Especially since the publication of Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats (1967) and Éden, Éden, Éden (1970), what leaps to the eye in his novels astonishes, stuns, shocks and often disgusts: emotionless sexual intercourse, methodical military torture, cruel relationships based on slavery or prostitution, not to mention the strange spellings, displaced accents, eccentric punctuation, “Guyotatized” foreign terms, barbarisms, onomatopoeic coinings and other bizarre neologisms that characterize subsequent novels such as Prostitution (1975; revised edition, 1987), Le Livre (1984) and Progénitures (2000). This novelist, who was nicknamed “Doudou” in childhood because of his gentleness, has provoked scandals with nearly every book (Éden, Éden, Éden was banned between 1970 and 1981 in a rare case of censorship in post-war France; the novel is available in an English translation from Creation Books). Guyotat admits that he “painfully produces an oeuvre that is inhuman, against nature, both in mind and language”. “My ‘savage’ working material banishes me ever more irremediably”, he adds, “from society . . . even from my own being.”

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