Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Architruc, the narrator. He is king of Fantoine and Agapa. He describes himself as fat, with varicose veins, a flat head, pimples, sandy-colored hair, a nose like a potato, and cauliflower ears. When Architruc is fifteen years old, his father is killed in a revolt, and his mother assumes the regency until the youth comes of age. He mopes about the palace, delighting only in a garden that he plants with lily of the valley and crowfoot. He falls in love with Baga, who is also the lover of Architruc’s mother; as soon as Architruc becomes king, he names Baga as his prime minister. At first Architruc travels about his kingdom to dispense justice, but eventually he becomes bored with this practice and, like his father, cloisters himself within the palace. For him, each day is identical: He arises at noon, performs a few simple exercises, and examines his collections of pebbles, shells, leaves, eyeglasses, and watches. Then his barber arrives to shave him. Afterward, Architruc waters his plant, Ducky, and sponges its leaves. Dressed in white, the king next appears at lunch, his chief delight, and always eats beef, an omelette, and cheese before he retires to his room once more. War with Novocardia disrupts this pattern. Following his victory, he retires for a century to a hut in the forest. When he returns to the palace, a visit from Queen Conegrund again upsets his routine. While overseeing the construction of a castle in the valley of Rouget, he wanders off to join a small convent and becomes a woman for a time.


(The entire section is 640 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

In the opening lines of the book, long before the narrator reveals his name, he asserts, “I am a king. Yes, a king of myself. Of my stagnation.” These are the same words used by the nameless speaker in Quelqu’un (1965; Someone, 1984). Is he then the same person? Even after he begins to call himself Architruc, the reader can hardly be said to be enlightened, for Monsieur Truc is the French equivalent of Mr. What’s-his-name, so that Architruc is simply King What’s-his-name. Nor does his appellation inspire confidence, when one realizes that “truc” also means trick, making Architruc a master trickster, the archdeceiver.

One cannot even be certain whether Architruc is deceiving the reader or himself. He claims to be writing his memoirs so that his nephews will understand his life and presumably benefit from the account. Yet he adopts Rara, a dishwasher—the same one Conegrund buys?—as his heir, thereby subverting the purpose of his memoirs. He claims that he made Baga his prime minister out of gratitude, and in the course of the book he confers other honors upon him also: He presents Baga with the ribbon of the Order of St. Honore, makes him his cousin, and proclaims him Count of Fidelity. Yet he also seems to distrust this man, stating that he named Baga his prime minister to lure him away from the Queen Mother, with whom Baga was having an affair.

Even more shadowy and enigmatic than Architruc is this prime...

(The entire section is 452 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bann, Stephen. “Robert Pinget,” in The London Magazine. IV (October 7, 1964), pp. 22-35.

Cismarie, Alfred. “Robert Pinget: An Introduction,” in American Benedictine Reivew. XIX (June, 1968), pp. 203-210.

Henkels, Robert M., Jr. Robert Pinget: The Novel as Quest, 1979.

Knapp, Bettina, ed. French Novelists Speak Out, 1976.

Mercier, Vivian. The New Novel from Queneau to Pinget, 1971.

Oppenheim, Lois, ed. Three Decades of the French New Novel, 1986.