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A Dark Stranger

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  11 reviews

Two lovers arrive at a seaside hotel in 1920's Brittany. The other guests soon become obsessed with the man, the equivocal unsettling Allan. One by one they realise who he is-that Death has come to spend the summer with them. Amid the ceaseless thunder of the waves, the wild and often surreal Breton landscape, the group that gravitates around Allan-an uncannily contemporar
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Pushkin Press (first published 1950)
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Stephen
Maurice Blanchot called Gracq's opaque writing, layered with adjectives and so unlike the purity of classical French prose, as evidence of Gracq's "magical" conception of the world. He wrote in order for his readers to feel more than see. Such an assessment rings true regarding this oblique novel, admirably translated by Christopher Moncrieff (Gracq once stated a desire that his work remain untranslatable), in which the eponymous stranger, Allan Murchison, arrives at a seaside resort in Brittany ...more
Brian James
There were moments where I truly loved this book with its flashes of beautiful prose and places where time ceases to exist that intrigued me. It followers a group of wealthy vacationers collected in a sleepy beach resort on the north coast of France between the wars. The author does a delightful job in capturing the almost stifling calm and leisure that surrounds them. However, by doing so, the book tends to drag, sometimes drawing the reader too deeply into the mood. The mysterious Allan charac ...more
Eugene
Nov 12, 2008 Eugene rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eugene by: Will Schofield at http://neglectedbooks.com/?p=179
julien gracq's second novel was called UN BEAU TENEBREUX and, according to this, was written in two spurts: in 1940 and 1942. it was published in 1945 and brought out in english in 1950 by new directions with this beautiful, word-less cover. gracq, who died in 2007 was considered at the time of his death the "last of the great universal writers".

a somewhat plodding story about a ubermensch-wannabe who corrupts a crowd of european archetypes summering at a beachside resort, this novel is probabl
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Marie-aimée
Une histoire bien décevante. Écrit comme un journal intime intégrant des dialogues, le récit est langoureux : on suit les actions (ou plutôt les non-actions) de personnages qui se retrouvent tous en vacances dans le même hôtel. Le narrateur principal est assez mystérieux, voire inquiétant. Les personnages se veulent spirituels, pris dans la tourmente des intrigues amoureuses et des passions humaines, mais ça ne m'a pas accroché du tout. Le tout finit de façon mélodramatique. C'était pathétique. ...more
M.
This took me far too long to read, despite being only 185 pages or so. And I encountered a quandry: the plot & setting of the novel itself were fascinating to me, in fact the setting (a mostly vacant, isolated hotel by the ocean) is pretty much ideal, but the prose itself was awkward and distracting. Also, I'm not sure if it was just the translation, but dialog is delivered in a really distracting way, and it took me half the book to figure out who all of the primary characters were (and the ...more
Becky
Not the easiest book to get into, this is however a stylish and slightly creepy story of the corruption of a group of wealthy visitors to a seaside hotel. The sense of lethargy and boredom seeps through the whole text, action moves at a somewhat glacial pace as the 'dark stranger' makes his mark on the group. Not one to read if you are looking for action, but if you want style and a building sense of foreboding then this is ideal.
Samuel Gordon
Merits a second reading. I have a feeling I might have missed some of the allusions whose threads were lost in the subtext.

Reading this novel, with its wealth of metaphors and allegories, I felt transported into Gracq's surreal world, very dream-like with a sense of impending doom. A neglected gem indeed.
Liviu
After the awesome Opposing Shore and the very good Balcony in the Forrest, I had the highest expectations about this one and I was somewhat disappointed as in Chateau d'Argol - here a large part may be the translation which reads very "jerky", not like Julien Gracq of the other 3 novels; and this one is his second and while written at least partially as a POW in a German camp, the reviews of the French edition do not mention this scattering.

so the prose only so-so for once (the other 3 Gracq nov
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Luke
Some really tremendous writing at times, though often lends itself to the lethargic while wrapped in the very formative narrative. Some of the most engaging descripitive settings that too often involve inconsequential and unnecessary characters.
Bryan
Book Club of Death selection number two. Verdict: exquisite.
Phillippa Mills
Exquisite - every time.
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Julien Gracq (27 July 1910 – 22 December 2007), born Louis Poirier in St.-Florent-le-Vieil, in the French "département" of Maine-et-Loire, was a French writer. He wrote novels, critiques, a play, and poetry. His literary works were noted for their Surrealism.

Gracq first studied in Paris at the Lycée Henri IV, where he earned his baccalauréat. He then entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1930, l
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More about Julien Gracq...
The Opposing Shore Château d'Argol A Balcony in the Forest La presqu'île The Narrow Waters

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“De nouveau il entendit la porte s'ouvrir, et, calme, du fond de la chambre, il vit venir à lui sa dernière heure.” 2 likes
“Ce qui commence par : "Je me hâtais de déplaire exprès, par crainte de déplaire naturellement" (Mauriac) continue par : "Je me hâtais d'échouer exprès,par crainte d'échouer naturellement", et pourrait se terminer un jour par : "Je me hâtais de mourir exprès,par crainte de mourir naturellement" (une phrase d'excellent comique).” 1 likes
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