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Sleep's Powers
Jacqueline Risset
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Sleep's Powers

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  14 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Cultural Writing. Essays. Translated from the French by Jennifer Moxley. SLEEP'S POWERS is a meditation on the role of sleep in human life. In the tradition of Montaigne, this book of short essays draws from literary sources (Proust, Sartre, Bataille, Beckett, Kafka), science (Michel Jouvet), as well as personal history and memory. It would appeal to readers interested in ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Ugly Duckling Presse
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A lovely & quiet little book that examines sleep, dreams, and the way that they intersect with both life and literature. There is some amazing stuff in here, and the light fragmentation creates a space to enter and exit so as not to get so bogged down in the idea of the text. A really lovely work.
Jacqueline Risset is a French poet-scholar who wrote a series of short essays on Sleep. There are such diverse topics as sleep of characters in myths, sleeping figures in paintings and art, the author's memories of sleep as a child. It's really quite amazing.

I interviewed Jennifer Moxley, Risset's English-language translator on today's show:

Megan Luke
A bit like Calvino in that it's super enchanting and impressive at the start but from a distance, especially after one's halfway through, feels monotone and contrived. It is well-worth it though, just like it is with Calvino, to read at least the first half.*

*Self-justifications embedded in totally harsh criticism from somebody who isn't that well read because she only reads books halfway.
Perhaps this is too French with a capital F for me...I think the writing in this book is quite beautiful and it seems like a good translation, too. Maybe excesses of soft, filmy beauty repel me.
Like sleep, I didn't want it to end, was compelled unceasingly through it, and emerged refreshed.
Other than its possible mimetic value (i.e., form-follows-content), it's a piece of crap.
Thought-provoking, but this kind of thing has been done better.
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