Claude Simon and the Transgressions of Modern Art by Michael Evans (auth.)

By Michael Evans (auth.)

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The mathematician then 'merges' the two sets A and B including all the elements common or not common to both. 36 Viewed in this light, Simon's fictional writing can be seen to depend on a similar double process of association through metaphor and metonymy. The sudden shifts from one narrative sequence, or referential unit, to another, creating the effect of a contour which outlines the boundary between each unit, is achieved through metaphorical association. The internal components of the unit itself, the elements within each boundary, are connected through metonymic association.

29)26 But the subject need not be in physical motion for the field of vision and the objects it encapsulates to adopt a fluid and equivocal perspective. Georges's me~tal vision of his past, for instance, which is composed of a stream of conflicting and transmuting scenes is experienced from a point of physical immobility: the hotel bed. By elaborating a kind of Chinese box superimposition of mnemonic frames which allows elements to permeate and overlap from one anecdotal context to another, the process of memory continually distorts and displaces that which it seeks to secure within its grasp.

Moreover, the shift creates a vacancy for a new moment and locus of discourse since the train segment is itself narrated in the imperfect tense. What, the reader now asks, is the narrative frame of the events related which include Georges's discussion with Blum in the train? The second narrative break, appearing a few pages later, does not provide an answer to the problem posed by the first break, but introduces an additional problem: a shift from first to third person narrative. The break occurs in a passage where Georges is recounting to Blum events which took place before his capture by the Germans and, specifically, his first encounter with the dead horse lying on the road: The Framework of La Route des Flandres 25 et ce dut etre par hi que je le vis pour la premiere fois, un peu avant ou a pres 1' endroit oil nous nous sommes arretes pour boire, le decouvrant, le fixant a travers cette sorte de demisommeil, cette sorte de vase marron dans laquelle j' etais pour ainsi dire englue et peut-etre parce que nous dumes faire un detour pour l'eviter, et plutot le devinant que le voyant: c'esta-dire (comme tout ce qui jalonnait le bord de la route: les camions, les voitures, les valises, les cadavres) quelque chose d'insolite, d'irreel, d'hybride en ce sens que ce qui avait ete un cheval (c'est-a-dire ce qu'on savait, ce qu'on pouvait reconnaitre, identifier comme ayant ete un cheval) n' etait plus a present qu'un vague tas de membres, de comes, de cuir et de poils colles, aux trois quarts recouvert de boue - Georges se demandant sans exactement se le demander[ .

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