notes on dutch literature

Arriving in Avignon

In Review on November 26, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Arriving in Avignon

The Flemish writer Daniël Robberechts (1937-1992) refused to identify his books as novels, stories, or essays, according them all equal status as, simply, writing.
Dalkey Archive brought his work back into print in 2010 by publishing his dark, multi-genre work, Arriving in Avignon, translted by award winning Paul Vincent. Writing in third person in an unrelenting voice that advances by question and insinuation, Robberechts examines the experiences of his younger self over the course of twenty-one trips he made to the nondescript French town of Avignon. A curious lack of memorable or “significant” experiences despite a near obsessive attraction to Avignon becomes a source of inquiry for Robberechts, and his investigation quickly flowers into a philosophical exercise, played out in the gap between reality and language’s inadequate tools to capture it. Complicating the staid middle-aged Robberechts’ efforts is the young Robberechts’ thundering lust for every female he had even the slightest contact with. By superimposing his erotic longings and thwarted desires onto the town of Avignon itself, Robberechts cleverly equates his inability with being able to apprehend or enter Avignon on a more meaningful level with his self-defeating efforts to become romantically or sexually involved. However, what lifts this work above dull masculinist nostalgia is Robberechts’ anguished and livid frustrations with the slippery nature of reality itself. If Arriving in Avignon is any indication of what Robberechts was capable of, there’s much to look forward to in his forthcoming works.

Source: Critical Mob
An excerpt of Arriving in Avignon can be found on site of Dalkey Archive


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