Aymé, Marcel (Contemporary Literary Criticism)
Aymé, Marcel 1902–1967
Aymé was a French dramatist, novelist, short story writer, journalist, and writer of books for children. His fictional subject is often the common man, his fictional setting, a simple rural one. Aymé was able to integrate the supernatural into the fabric of everyday reality, offering a flight into the imaginary and the absurd. He experimented with a variety of narrative styles, revealing a strong imagination and independence of thought.
GERMAINE BRÉE and MARGARET GUITON
A distinguishing characteristic of Marcel Aymé, when set beside other contemporary novelists in France, is the fact that he neither comes from nor has ever really been assimilated to the Paris bourgeoisie…. He is most at home within the microcosm of the small provincial village, where peasants, animals and small-scale local powers achieve a healthy, if somewhat uninspiring, pattern of existence. (p. 89)
It is not difficult to see why [La Jument verte] was, and still is, a best-seller in France. Aymé knows how to tell a story, to arouse our attention and curiosity…. Aymé, moreover, is on extremely intimate terms with life, its material necessities, difficulties and pleasures. A man in...
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Aymé has never become involved in literary and ideological cults; he is an old-fashioned individualist, more interested in people than in ideas. He is, moreover, a born storyteller, one of the best practicing in any language, and even in translation his prose is elegant and extremely readable…. Aymé's satire and farce grow out of a profound and tolerant cynicism. He distrusts or finds ridiculous high-minded idealists, revolutionary middle-class intellectuals—in fact, people of all kinds who want to remake the human animal or bowdlerize the truth about his nature. For Aymé, hypocrisy is more vicious than the natural vices of man, and one senses in his work a strong affection for life as it is. Within this...
(The entire section is 234 words.)
Marcel Aymé … brought to French literature an earthy sense of the life of the peasantry, a robust attachment to the concrete, a vigorous hatred of all escapisms, be they philosophical, esthetic, or political, and an admirably pungent gift of style. It is doubtful whether the success of his novels like "The Green Mare" and "The Second Face" will outlast his generation. They already seem strained and affected in their coarseness or in their fantasy. And Marcel Aymé, who is close to his sixtieth year, is hardly likely to acquire now the poetical touch that alone would have imposed upon disbelieving audiences his play about changing human creatures into birds. But he is today unequaled in France as a writer of racy...
(The entire section is 335 words.)
In a country where most writers belong to the intellectual classes, Aymé did not conform to the general pattern. He was not shaped by the classical and humanistic disciplines, or fashioned according to the usual university mold; and he steadfastly refused to be considered an intellectual or to belong to any literary school or movement. His experience of the world and his transposition of this experience were always essentially pragmatic and strikingly individualistic, but he appeals to readers of all kinds because of his vivid and unusual style, his extraordinary ability to put words through their paces, and especially because of the fresh and unexpected quality of his vision. His imagination created a new and...
(The entire section is 2332 words.)