Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 149

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Simon was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1985. His work as an avant-garde novelist and an individualistic writer made him worthy of such an honor. Simon, in such novels as The Battle of Pharsalus, has stretched far beyond the limits of the traditional European novel. The sets of images he creates and re-creates are perhaps the most accurate representations of the workings of a human mind ever accomplished in prose.

The Battle of Pharsalus is a work that stands midway between the author’s earlier, less fully experimental novels, and his later works. Elements in The Battle of Pharsalus, such as the narrator’s wartime experiences, reflect Simon’s own life, as do elements in his previous books, such as La Route des Flandres (1960; The Flanders Road, 1961). In Simon’s novels subsequent to The Battle of Pharsalus, personal experience is even more deeply submerged in complex linguistic structures.