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The Peninsula

Julien Gracq

Translated from the French by Elizabeth Deshays

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Julien Gracq
The Peninsula
Series No.: 183
ISBN: 978-1-933382-39-5, Pages: 117
French Literature, Fiction

Winner of the America Award for Literature

Julien Gracq's short fiction The Peninsula is a deceptively simple work with regard to plot. Simon is at the Brévenay train station in Brittany waiting for his lover, Irmgard, although she has warned him that her arrival at midday is "very unlikely." As expected, she is not on the train, and he has a whole afternoon to while away before the next one gets in that evening. A methodical man, Simon determines to spend the time driving along the Brittany coast and arranging for their journey. He returns that evening to the train station to meet her.

Little else "happens" -- if one defines plot as Americans usually do. But in Gracq's beautifully lyrical tale, everything happens on the emotional level as the reader participates in Simon's psychical journey which leads him through the harsh and uncompromising Brittany landscape, scene of his childhood vacations, into the mythological world of Tristan and Isolde.

Simon, it is clear, is a conflicted soul, a figure of great sensitivity and desire, but also a person who keeps his distance from others, who perhaps finds it difficult to make lasting commitments. Will he make it back in time to meet Irmgard? The answer is not as important as the journey that takes him forward and back in space and time.

Author of The Castle of Argol, The Opposing Shore, A Dark Stranger and numerous other books, Julien Gracq (1910-2007), initially part of the surrealist movement, went on to become one of the major figures of French twentieth century literature. He lived as a recluse, refusing numerous awards that were bestowed upon him during his life. In 2006 he was awarded The America Award for a Lifetime Contribution to International Writing.

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