(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Adam Pollo is almost thirty years old, inordinately tall and thin; he looks disheveled and, like a sick and frightened animal, has found a refuge in a deserted house overlooking the sea. He lies on a deck chair, sunbathing by an open window. He writes in a notebook letters to “dear Michèle.” Adam is tormented by innumerable fears, and he struggles to remember whether he just left the army or just left a mental home. Living alone and surviving on beer, cigarettes, and cookies, Adam has rejected society, its values, and the human interaction it requires.

Generally shy, Adam can be assertive with Michèle. The two are in a café. In spite of Michèle’s repeated efforts to avoid the subject, Adam inflicts upon her a detailed description of the rape she had suffered at his hands. The rape was, apparently, only “in theory,” but Michèle’s public humiliation by the story that Adam insistently tells “for other people’s benefit” is very real. Adam is asserting his virility. He also is seeking confirmation of the rape, a fragment of certainty in his uncertain past. Michèle refuses that confirmation. His attitude, which borders on cruelty, deprives him of the help she could have provided.

Adam does not work; he borrows francs, here and there, from Michèle, and he kills time by doing things such as visiting the zoo or following a dog on a random stroll through town. He discovers a rat in the house where he is living and becomes so disturbed that he launches an epic and victorious battle against the intruder.

For a brief moment, Adam’s interaction with Michèle is beneficial. She visits him, they have a beer, and chat. She calms him down when he anticipates that a war might erupt and shake the world. She sets the record straight and he agrees: “so that’s it. The atomic war has not happened yet,” he tells himself. He repeats that, as...

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(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Amoia, Alba, and Bettina Knapp, eds. Multicultural Writers Since 1945. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004. This collection of essays examining the work of postwar multicultural writers includes a five-page introduction to Le Clézio. Basic but useful.

Moser, Keith A.“Privileged Moments” in the Novels and Short Stories of J. M. G. Le Clézio: His Contemporary Development of a Traditional French Literary Device. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008. A book-length study of lyrical experiences in Le Clézio’s fiction. Includes the chapter “Adam Pollo’s Alienation and Existential Anguish.”

Redfern-West, Robert. Le Clézio: A Literary Topography of New Departures, Poetic Adventure, and Sensual Ecstasy—The Man and His Works. Palo Alto, Calif.: Academica Press, 2009. A scholarly interpretive study of Le Clézio examining his life—including his global travels—and his works. Develops his main themes and places them in the context of contemporary world literature.

Waelti-Walters, Jennifer R. J. M. G. Le Clézio. Boston: Twayne, 1977. This biographical account of Le Clézio’s life and works covers the period from 1963 to 1975. Includes a clear and complete chapter on The Interrogation.