Published in 1922 and modeled on F?nelon's seventeenth-century epic of the same name, Aragon's work parodies its heroic models, didacticism, psychological stability, and descriptive and narrative balance.
Published in 1922 and modeled on Fénelon's seventeenth-century epic of the same name, Aragon's work parodies its heroic models, didacticism, psychological stability, and descriptive and narrative balance.
Poet and novelist Aragon (1897-1982) helped launch the dada and surrealist movements. In Telemachus, written in 1922 and newly translated for this first English edition, he does an irreverent spoof of the 17th century moralist Fenelon, who rewrote Homeric epic as a guide for princes and schoolboys. Along with MentorMinerva in dragTelemachus quests for his father Ulysses, who is dawdling amorously on the way back from Troy. But where Fenelon warns against women, Aragon indulges Telemachus in the erotic delights offered by petulant nymphs Calypso and Eucharis. Minerva and Calypso have a lesbian interlude. An amusing sequence takes place in Neptune's underwater brothel. Instead of fleeing temptation by diving in the sea to seek wisdom on a distant shore, Aragon's Telemachus tastes pleasure and wrestles with his identity in the here-and-now of Calypso's isle. His final act is Aragon's invention. The highly academic introduction discusses Telemachus as a dada/surrealist document, with its fracturing of language and bourgeois values. Most non-specialist readers will skim over the novel's tortured talkiness, savoring Aragon's passages of sensuous lyricism, his playful tactics with myth and his obvious delight in the power of words. (March)
In this counter-novel, originally published in 1922, Aragon opposes his iconoclastic text to Fenelon's didactic 17th-century novel of the same title. The avant-garde hero lands at the erotic paradise of OgygiaCalypso's islandand his adventures are related with surreal, Dadaist brio: unexpected analogies, collage poetics, dream imagery, and verbal acrobatics exploiting paradox and contradiction. Translating such a text is fraught with difficulties, but this first translation overcomes the hurdle by providing an ``impression'' of the text ``in keeping with that of the original'' rather than a literal rendering. The result is most enjoyable reading, accompanied by an excellent introduction and helpful notes. Danielle Mihram, New York Univ. Lib.