Winter 1969 • Vol. XXXI No. 1 Book Reviews |

The Burden of History

Histoire by Claude Simon. George Braziller, $5.95. Claude Simon is little known in this country, except perhaps as one of the French New Novelists, and Histoire, the fifth of his novels to be translated into English, is unlikely to increase his reputation. Opened at random, Histoire seems incoherent, merely a series of disconnected fragments, a lyrical but meaningless collection of images. It seems to have a narrator but no form, events but no plot; even a reasonably conscientious reader is apt to be confused by what appears to be, in the worst modern tradition, a narrative experiment without meaning or substance. These impressions are misleading, however, for Simon is one of the finest of living novelists, and Histoire—although not his best work—is a striking union of form and function. Its structure is hardly conventional, but it is coherent and highly disciplined, and its plot is both meaningful and moving. It makes great demands on the reader and is likely to leave him v

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