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Fragments of Lichtenberg

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4.50  ·  Rating details ·  26 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The eighteenth-century German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg left behind at the time of his death thousands of fragmentary notes commenting on a dazzling and at the same time puzzling array of subjects. Pierre Senges’s Fragments of Lichtenberg imaginatively and hilariously reconstructs the efforts of scholars across three centuries to piece together Lichtenberg’s di ...more
Paperback, 449 pages
Published January 27th 2017 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published April 3rd 2008)
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Well then I guess to continue the saga begun below and read backwords (if you've not been following this saga afore this day), I'll type out the veryvery tinytiny print found on the copyright page which must serve as some clue to the unbearable delay in bringing this novel to your readerly eyes ::
Despite its mission to support French literature in translation, and in particular to to [sic!] support the cause and well-being of translators, CNL (Centre national du livre) would not provide support
...more
Jonfaith
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While there are a few contenders left, Fragments might prove to be my favorite book of the year. Infinitely idiosyncratic, Pierre Senges assembled not just a palace from Lichtenberg but a protean atlas thereof. Oozing-beyond-rich erudition delights each page. References dance in an angelic choreography, the ideas of fragmentation and assembly move to the fore and then pirouette outward in bemused orbits as the text itself follows the efforts of various Lichtenberg specialists as they ponder the ...more
MJ Nicholls
Senges’s swanking maximalist opus has on paper all the elements that make me spasm: a colossal erudition on show, an astonishing felicity with language, a shamelessly rococo prose style somewhat Therouvian, an hilarious swatting of cacademics, an abundance of lists ranging from obscure to obscuriouser, a continuous skewering of the fake and the real, a lot of fun with marginalia, and a dry, satirical sense of humour. This novel has those elements in superabundance. So, horrified reader, the reas ...more
Ronald Morton
The whole man must move together – everything in a man must move towards the same end.

-George Christoph Lichtenberg (The Waste Books, Notebook B)

[and]

If it permissible to write plays that are not intended to be seen, I should like to see who can prevent me from writing a book no one can read

(Notebook F)
To begin, let’s look at what exactly the titular “Fragments” actually are, and examine the historic starting place as to why Senges has written the book he has written. I’m going to – entirely
...more
Justin Evans
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Senges is a bright light: someone who can write fiction that is novel in form but also rejects the tiresome cliches of most literature that is novel in form (really, we're all alone in this world and love will save us? You don't say, well, I'm really looking forward to pondering that at the end of your 900 page opus). Here, he gives us a 'history' of people trying to put some order into the notebooks of Georg Lichtenberg, and some passages supposedly by Lichtenberg, and a biography, of sorts, of ...more
Caroline
As we read Georg Christian Lichtenberg’s aphorisms, our curiosity takes two paths: what comes before and after these thoughts seemingly snipped out of some peculiar train of thought, and what do they mean?

Pierre Senges has a creative curiosity raised to the nth degree (Lichtenberg was a mathematician, and mathematical ideas pervade the Fragments) so he posits a once-massive work by Lichtenberg of which the aphorisms are only the debris from a destructive blaze of the full document, deliberately
...more
Jim Elkins
Feb 11, 2017 added it
Shelves: french
What is a Fragment?

I bought this book as part of a reading project on the relation between very long forms of fiction (thousand-page novels, or at least five-hundred page ones, like this one, which are dense with citations, marginal notes, and multiple voices) and very short forms (such as aphorisms, including Chamfort's, Rochefoucauld's, Nietzsche's, and Lichtenberg's, and also Ben Lerner's poems on Lichtenberg, and Alexander Kluge's text on Lerner's text on Lichtenberg).

This is a complex book,
...more
Geoff
Jul 10, 2014 marked it as to-read
Hey Dalkey, I know yer out there - where the hell is this!? Get on it suckas!
Sean
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Perec, Sterne, Nabokov, Burton
Shelves: 2017, available, dalkey
A fragmentary, scattered oeuvre cast as the Book of the World, inexhaustible in its hermeneutic possibilities — such is the premise of Pierre Senges’ maximalist, Shandean romp through the imagined history of a Lichtenberg society seeking to reconstruct the hypothetical, singular Urtext of their namesake.

The structure of Fragments may be summarized according to Coleridge’s useful distinction between ‘Imagination’, the blaze which inaugurates the Gestalt idea of the text, and ‘Fancy’, the faculty
...more
Tony Gualtieri
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The literary remains of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg include a series of notebooks, known as the "Waste Books", that consist of hundreds of aphorisms linked only by Lichtenberg's ironic philosophy and sharp observations. It is known that he wrote them in hopes of creating a novel, but that novel was never completed.

This novel imagines a group of scholars, "the Lichtenbergians", whose purpose is to assemble the fragments and uncover Lichtenberg's masterpiece. Various attempts are described: Noah's
...more
Howard Gordon
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece from the best French novelist going today. Mathematician, physics teacher, hermit, electricity enthusiast, womanizer, hypochondriac Georg Christoph Lichtenberg left behind 8,000 fragments long considered mere aphorisms. However, certain scholars claim that these famous "Wastebooks" are actually remnants of a lost Great Novel that might be reconstructed. Their attempts to do so and their grappling with Lichtenberg's legacy are this book. Warm, absurd, generous, erudite, hilarious. Y ...more
Daniel Polansky
I read this book.
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Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dalkey
Entertaining at times mystifying tale of 18th century physicist, author, hypochondriac, gibbous, free-spirit Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. Seems to be an intermingling of fact, speculation and outright fantasy in retelling pieces of Lichtenberg’s life and the description of 100 years of Lichtenberg sleuthing and various attempts to fill in the gaps and reconstitute his oeuvre as a single story of widely disparate plots and themes. Dandy Robinson, an effete castaway in a recounting of the Defoe ta ...more
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Pierre Senges (born 1968, Romans-sur-Isère) is a French writer. His work includes fifteen books, often collaborations with illustrators, and over twenty-five plays for radio.
His books are sometimes noted for having a baroque style. They frequently combine erudition and invention Fragments of Lichtenberg or play with the relation between the true and untrue Veuves au maquillage and La réfutation ma
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