The Wind Spirit

THE WIND SPIRIT, originally published in French as LE VENT PARACLET in 1977, is not an autobiography in the conventional sense. Tournier does present background information, but not in a strict chronological manner. The essays are also filled with stimulating intellectual pronouncements, such as his indictment of French education and some outrageous statements on heterosexuality. THE WIND SPIRIT will be most helpful in shedding light on Tournier’s works of fiction.

Tournier’s acclaim as a novelist has grown ever since his reworking of the Robinson Crusoe story in his novel FRIDAY. He is now considered one of France’s best contemporary writers. There has always been vitality and grace, insight and wit in any Tournier creation, and THE WIND SPIRIT is no exception. It is unfortunate that the collection was not translated sooner, though Arthur Goldhammer’s translation is to be applauded, as one wonders if Tournier has altered his views of contemporary life since these essays were written. THE WIND SPIRIT is nevertheless fascinating for its look into the genesis of Tournier’s early novels. This collection presents wonderful glimpses of Tournier the man, Tournier the cultural observer, and Tournier the novelist. This complex and compelling individual has done his reading audience a great service with these essays.