Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

In the preface to his first book, Entre Fantoine et Agapa (1951; Between Fantoine and Agapa, 1983), Pinget declared that he sought “to abolish all the constraints of classical writing” because such literature relies on reason. Pinget, on the other hand, claims, “I don’t give a damn for logic!” Hence the narrative unfolds through a series of seemingly unrelated, contradictory, or redundant episodes. A phrase recurring throughout the short novel is “Impossible anamnesis,” and indeed Pinget had considered calling the book Anamnase (anamnesis), referring to the surfacing of memories from the distant past.

According to the preface to the American edition of That Voice,The structure of this novel is precise, although not immediately apparent. The different themes are intermingled. One cuts into another point blank, then the other resumes and cuts into the first, and so on until the end. The first example of this procedure, at the beginning of the book, is the theme of the cemetery, cut into that of the gossip at the grocery, then resumed shortly afterwards.

This stream of consciousness, or, more precisely, stream of unconsciousness (since that is the source of the random memories), forces the reader to become like Alexandre Mortin, Theodore, and Mademoiselle Moine in piecing together random bits of conversation, rumors, and recollections to create a coherent story.

Again like the...

(The entire section is 563 words.)