The Lecture

Overview

At the City Hall in a small town in the South of France, one man starts his campaign to correct the ills that have overtaken his proud nation by lecuring the town's inhabitants on the art of conversation. In the narrator's opinion, "coversation is a specialty that is most eminently French," an art that should be nurtured and practiced, and can help repair France's reputation. Not to mention being a good conversationalist is extremely useful for seducing women, which is how the narrator managed to attract ...

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Overview

At the City Hall in a small town in the South of France, one man starts his campaign to correct the ills that have overtaken his proud nation by lecuring the town's inhabitants on the art of conversation. In the narrator's opinion, "coversation is a specialty that is most eminently French," an art that should be nurtured and practiced, and can help repair France's reputation. Not to mention being a good conversationalist is extremely useful for seducing women, which is how the narrator managed to attract Lucienne, his "superbly lumpish" wife who died two months before giving this lecture. One of the oddest characters in contemporary fiction, the lecturer in this novel can't help but digress about his sad life in the midst of his speech, giving the reader a view of a self-centered man trying to turn one of his greatest faults into a virtue to be forced on everyone else. By turns ironic, hilarious, pathetic, and mortifying, Salvayre's The Lecture is an exuberant example of the exciting fiction being written in France.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Salvayre's odd, short novel is made up entirely of the text of a lecture given by a nameless bore who expounds ad nauseam on the "eminently French" art of conversation-an art he fears is going to the dogs: "Mediocrity, ladies and gentlemen, is going international. The fear of offending prevails more and more over the taste for talking." Our logorrheic little man is a tiresome, pompous, self-proclaimed genius who talks at rather than with others. It is ironic, then, that he chooses conversation as his lecture topic (which, like the tango, is a two-party exercise). We, the audience, watch and listen as his digressions reveal his nastier side-including his horrible treatment of his dying wife, his pettiness, his failures, and his loneliness. Salvayre is a highly regarded, prize-winning writer, and Dalkey is clearly in her corner (this is the first of five of her books that the small, respected press is translating and releasing). While the conceit of a lecture is original and in this case occasionally amusing, the work is uneven and only partially satisfactory. Purchase for comprehensive collections of contemporary European fiction. Other libraries can skip.-Janet Evans, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564783516
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Series: French Literature Series
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Lydie Salvayre is a French writer. Born in the south of France to Republican refugees from the Spanish Civil War, she went on to study medicine in Toulouse and continues to work as a practicing psychiatrist.

Dalkey Archive Press

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