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The Bathroom

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,272 ratings  ·  145 reviews
First published in France in 1985, The Bathroom was Jean-Philippe Toussaint's debut novel, and it heralded a new generation of innovative French literature. In this playful and perplexing book, we meet a young Parisian researcher who lives inside his bathroom. As he sits in his tub meditating on existence (and refusing to tell us his name), the people around him—his girlfr ...more
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Marion Boyars Publishers (first published 1985)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,272 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Vit Babenco
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What does life consist of? And what role can a bathroom play in life?
When I began to spend my afternoons in the bathroom I had no intention of moving into it; no, I would pass some pleasant hours there, meditating in the bathtub, sometimes dressed, other times naked.

The Bathroom is an unusual psychological portrait of a young man… Everyday life consists of insignificant events, tiny details and unnoticeable trivia… Some trifles are seen and some are just ignored…
It was I who, standing in front o
Adam Dalva
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Terrific, strange little book - I'm a fan of Toussaint, particularly his Marie Tetralogy. This is his debut, so it's not quite refined in terms of formula (all his late books have micro arcs toward, always, three minor climaxes) and there is a bit of unnecessary showiness (pythagorean chapter sequencing), but the fun philosophizing and detached tone is very him .You'll fly through it. ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: low-calorie
When a book is called The Bathroom and its back cover blurb suggests that it's about 'a young Parisian researcher who lives inside his bathroom,' I think I'm right in feeling cheated and betrayed when the protagonist leaves the bathroom on page six, never to return. Well, I'm sure he returns for practical visits, of course, but he no longer domiciles there.

I was actually looking forward to a short novel about living in a bathroom for the simple reason that the idea sort of appeals to me. Imagin
Aug 29, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, abandoned
A thought I must convey to the masses.

I have an affliction when it comes to towels. Hand towels, bathroom towels, napkins, paper towels, shop towels. What distinguishes a hand towel from a bathroom towel from any of the other? Is it the size? What if you're a small person and a bathroom towel is too big? What if you're a large person and only have a handful of hand towels? Do they become bathroom towels then? Dabbing large areas of drops off your skin, going through a few at a time, in those nic
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having realized that he prefers reading in the tub, the protagonist of Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s The Bathroom decides to take up residence there, because, after all, “the bathroom was where I felt best.” This is a typical setup for the Belgian author of eight short but deliciously enigmatic novels: Toussaint puts his protagonist in an absurd position and describes it as if there’s nothing absurd about it at all. The author himself has characterized his work as being focused on the “not-interesti ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Immobility is not absence of movement but absence of any prospect of movement."

The above observation lies three-quarters of the way through The Bathroom, just before the quasi-authorial ruminations break forth, escaping the previous three room stage design. A change of locale occurs. Not to disclose much, but it is a change of nation as well. The insular goes on the lam. In fact, the section abroad distills the almost static gestation of the earlier salvos. The novel's only act of violence (exc
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recently, more and more, I have been vouching for slowness. Slowness in movement, slowness in thought; slowness as a form of rebellion. But what I call slow isn't really that slow; it's a return to human speed. The speed of our feet, not our wheels.

Jean-Philippe Toussaint in this novella wants to go beyond that. Or perhaps you could say he wants something entirely different. For isn't immobility qualitatively different from movement, even slow movement? Toussaint clearly distinguishes between th
Oct 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Bathroom" is a short, absurd bit of satire that questions time and movement and movement through time.

The story opens on a man who can't seem to leave his bathroom even as this urge tends to ruin his life. But then suddenly he does leave - the bathroom and Paris - and finds himself in Venice, refusing to return home. His wife, Edmondsson, who does everything for him, comes in search of him but leaves after his anger gets the best of him and ends up leaving a mark on her. Destitute and alone
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone who loves to ponder over life and death
There is a 27-year-old man who loves to stay in the bathtub and ponder over life for the whole afternoon every day. He does not have a mental problem, yet, he is a mere reflection of our anxiety in this 21st-century modern bustling world. He represents the helpless and desperate attitude towards life yet no one can resist such desperation.

He is not a loser, instead, he is somehow a thinker or a philosopher. One day, he took a book someone left in the cafe in Venice. The book was the English vers
spoiler alert: he leaves the bathroom.

Moral: Don't bug a guy when he's playing darts. ...more
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a slim novel that's also slight. Third-rate Beckett, second-rate Barthelme, full of "postmodern" playfulness with nothing at stake. The worst kind of "experimentalism". Toussaint is a funny writer, and I've got time for his later work, but his early novels just aren't very good. ...more
Hey, it's French, it's experimental, it's funny and it had post-modern, bijou chapterettes - it's my thing man. ...more
Jake Goretzki
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I came to this via a history of Belgian literature. It's stylistically innovative (or at least very distinctive) and often pretty drily funny.

The prose reminds me partly of Meursault in L'Etranger, in that absolutely absence of feeling and partly of Knausgaard, with the detailed description of the most mundane, everyday micro-routines (finding a jumper when it's cold, ordering a drink, ordering something at the bar). Which often creates moments of dead-pan humour (I love the bit where a man say
Justin Evans
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Apparently this is important for literary historical reasons, but then, lots of solid but not great books are. What's good here can be found more fully in Toussaint's later work, and, mercifully, what's bad here (numbered paragraphs for no reason, for instance, as well as silly juvenile rebellions) is not. Great cover, though. ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lovely. I only wish I had this version, where "bathroom" is hyphenated.

This was written three years after (even) I was born, yet still retains the tinge of the somewhat enterprising/somewhat upcoming/somewhat avant garde.

Now to go live in the bathtub for a bit.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
he leave the bathroom tho
Guttersnipe Das
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
On the back cover, a blurb from French magazine /Le Point/ raves, “An exception, a marvel: the budding of an incomparable, a perfect writer.” Pardon? Book reviewers, like myself, are known to be a highly excitable bunch. We may safely assume that espresso was involved in the writing of this review, though amphetamines cannot be ruled out. My personal theory is that when this book appeared, in 1985, after the very, very strenuous joys of the noveau roman and the French experimental fiction that f ...more
Kaitlin Reagan
Aug 28, 2020 rated it liked it
rating: 3.8
this book took me 4 years to finish, which is mostly the only reason why it’s not getting a higher rating. i randomly picked this book up at my favorite independent bookstore and i thought the premise of the story was weird and interesting, so i thought it would be fun to read. i reread the first 33 pages maybe 5 times, but for some reason i could never finish it. i think it’s because i was taken by surprise at the form/style Toussaint wrote this book. it took me 4 years, but i’ve com
With my limited understanding of french, here is a review. This is a book about a man who decides to live in his bathroom contemplating life, death and his toenails, and the colour of the bathroom wall. His girlfriend and family seem unbothered by it.
Lizzie Ramirez
Jan 15, 2022 rated it it was ok
I think this may have been one of the most pointless books I’ve ever read.
It was like reading someone’s diary of the bland parts of their day, occasionally throwing in something interesting.
I’m kinda sad, I was excited to read this book and it ended up having no plot or anything
Owen Prum
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
erika purrington
Mar 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
most tiresome for what's 100 pages or so ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I ought to take some risk, I said, looking down and stroking the enamel of the bathtub, the risk of compromising the quietude of my abstract life for ... I did not finish my sentence." ...more
Sincerely The Moth
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ah. A joy to read.
Diogo Oliveira
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
a book that set a tone for many american novels.
Apr 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
There's a definite Bartleby the Scrivener meets The Stranger vibe here. ...more
Long Nguyen
Jul 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
I read the translated Vietnamese version of this and it's totally incomprehensible. To be fair, the plot is also dry and without proper structure. ...more
like a vlog or something, a day in my life, first trip to New York, 72 hours in Paris, summer in Italy, ect..
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Jean-Philippe Toussaint (born 29 November, 1957, Brussels) is a Belgian prose writer and filmmaker. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and he has had his photographs displayed in Brussels and Japan. Toussaint won the Prix Médicis in 2005 for his novel Fuir. The 2006 book La mélancolie de Zidane (Paris: Minuit, 2006) is a lyrical essay on the headbutt administered by the ...more

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