The Opposing Shore

Front Cover
Columbia University Press, 1986 - Literary Criticism - 292 pages
5 Reviews

With four elegant and beautifully crafted novels Julien Gracq has established himself as one of France's premier postwar novelists. A mysterious and retiring figure, Gracq characteristically refused the Goncourt, France's most distinguished literary prize, when it was awarded to him in 1951 for this book. As the latest work in the Twentieth-Century Continental Fiction Series, Gracq'a masterpiece is now available for the first time in English.

Set in a fictitious Mediterranean port city, The Opposing Shore is the first-person account of a young aristocrat sent to observe the activities of a naval base. The fort lies at the country's border; at its feet is the bay of Syrtes. Across the bay is territory of the enemy who has, for three hundred years, been at war with the narrator's countrymen; the battle has become a complex, tacit game in which no actions are taken and no peace declared. As the narrator comes to understand, everything depends upon a boundary, unseen but certain, separating the two sides. Besides the narrator there are two other main characters, the dark and laconic captain of the base and a woman whose compex relations to both sides of the war brings the narator deeper into the story's web.

For many French readers The Opposing Shore (published as Le rivage des Syrtes ), with its theme of transgressions and boundaries, spoke to the issue of defeat and the desire to fail: a paticularly sensitive motif in postwar French literature. But there is nothing about the novel tying it either to France or to the 1950s; in fact, Gracq's novel, with its elaborate, richly detailed prose, will be of greater interest now than at any point in the last twenty years.

  

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Review: The Opposing Shore

User Review  - Andrew - Goodreads

An unsettling, abstract French novel very much in the vein of Maurice Blanchot's equally unsettling, abstract "Thomas l'Obscur." There's this country (terraces, sea, desert, shapes like a Di Chirico ... Read full review

Review: The Opposing Shore

User Review  - Nick_popa - Goodreads

Requires a slow read, but the character as well as landscape descriptions are worthwhile. Une ecriture remarquable! The political topics set in an imaginary world represent salient issues for today's political scene. Read full review

Contents

A Commitment
1
The Map Room
17
A Conversation
34
The Ruins of Sagra
51
A Visit
65
A Bout of Fever
96
The Island of Vezzano
116
Christmas
136
An Expedition
175
The Envoy
196
Final Inspection
230
The Secret Powers of the City
250
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

Julien Gracq (the pseudonym of Louis Poirier) was born in 1910 in Saint-le-Vieil. His three other novels have appeared in English as A Dark Stranger, The Castle of Argol, and Balcony in the Forest.

Bibliographic information