Sphinx is the remarkable debut novel, originally published in 1986, by the incredibly talented and inventive French author Anne Garréta, one of the few female members of Oulipo, the influential and exclusive French experimental literary group whose mission is to create literature based on mathematical and linguistic restraints, and whose ranks include Georges Perec and Ita...more
Remembering saddens me still, even years later. How many exactly, I don’t know anymore.Ten or maybe thirteen. And why do I always live only in memory? Soul heavy from too much knowing, body tired from feeling pensive and powerless at the same time, so riven by this obsessive ennui that nothing, or almost nothing, can distract it anymore. Back then, if I recall correctly, I used to describe the world as a theater where processions of corpses danced in a macabre ball of drives and desires. My cont...more
I won't mention here what restriction Sphinx employs, as I feel it's better to go in blind. That means keeping away from the Introduction.
But suffice it to say t ...more
The constraint was spoiled for me, which is a shame, because I think it has much more of a direct effect on the writing than people who are whirled off into identity politics and political points understand. Indeed, I believe this is the point of constrained writing, both for the writer and for the reader: it focuses the attention on the language, on how it is used, how words are actually put down on the page all the way through, a million tiny decisions leading ...more
the whole conceit of this book - what a way to avoid dealing with very real issues. (though, not saying that it would deal with them, or deal with them well, look how the book deals with the inter-racial aspect of the romance).
also our ~*genderless*~ narrator....
'I could no longer bear the assault of this ambient vulgarity. Behind the simulacrum of festivity and opulence, I witnessed the most sordid trafficking and seediest machinations, sheepishly disg ...more
This (apophasis) is an approach to knowing and understanding God that uses only what can be identified as what we don't or can't know about God. A negative approach. Which is just what Garreta does here by denying us knowledge of the gender of either the first person narra ...more
but i just can't take any more of this (view spoiler)[ goddamned dead gay trope. i just can't do it. any book with dead f ...more
I was finally being granted what I had been after for a long time: the chance to be the shadow of a body whose own is stolen by the spotlight.
Anne Garréta’s debut Sphinx can be easily considered part of the Oulipo movement, despite the fact that she became a member way after its publication. Oulipo members like their restrictions, and in Sphinx Garréta experiments with language (Garréta is French) to conceal the genders of the narrator and the narrator’s lover A***. At first glance Sphinx is ...more
If you read it, don’t read reviews and don’t read the back cover. Read it pure. Otherwise you will inevitably miss its great achievement. And it will be a massive loss.
i am, in a way, heartbroken by the ending and even cried a few times.
starting "Sphinx" i thought i won't be able to enjoy it because of the writing style and how hard it was for me to read it. so many new and complicated words that made me feel so dumb, but once i focused fully on the story and tried to ignore everything else - i started loving i ...more
That said, I found the story to be pretty lackluster. The characters were underdeveloped and at times flat out unbelievable, the plot was much of the same, and the settings, local ...more
Fellow Oulipan Daniel Levin Becker highlights in his introduction the case of a French critic who read Perec's La Disparition and gave it a lukewarm review in Les Nouvelles litteraires, without noticing it's now famous Oulipan constraint, the absence of the letter E. T ...more