claude simon

On Claude Simon’s novel Conducting Bodies (1971)

I read an awesome book and I want to tell you about it. Originally written in French by Claude Simon, and titled Les Corps conducteurs, the translation I read (by Helen R. Lane) is titled Conducting Bodies. It was originally published in 1971, but my version was published by Grove Press in 1974. Sadly, it appears to now be out of print — but used copies are out there.

I stumbled across it a few weeks ago at a used bookstore here in Tallahassee. It wasn’t like I saw it on the shelf and went “Oh yes! Oh my god, I can’t believe I found this.” It was more like, “Claude Simon sounds vaguely familiar…wasn’t he associated with Alain Robbe-Grillet and the Nouveau Roman movement?” I picked it up and did as I always do: I read the first sentence and prepared to put it back on the shelf if that sentence was not exceptional:

In the display window a dozen identical female legs are lined up in a row, feet up, the thighs lopped off at the hip joint resting on the floor, the knees slightly bent, as though the legs had been removed from some chorus of dancers at the precise moment that they are all kicking in unison, and put there in the window, just as they were, or perhaps snipped out, in monotonous multiplicity, from some advertisement showing a pretty girl in her slip pulling on a stocking, sitting on a pouf or on the edge of an unmade bed, her torso leaning backward, with the leg that she is pulling the stocking over raised up high, and a kitten, or a curly-haired puppy gleefully standing on its hind legs, barking, with its pink tongue sticking out.


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December 26th, 2009 / 10:30 pm