Claude Ollier: Déconnection (later: Obscuration) (Disconnection)


The latest addition to my website is Claude Ollier‘s Déconnection (later: Obscuration) (Disconnection). Ollier was one of the French writers associated with Editions de Minuit and the nouveau roman but he drifted away from them and set his own course. This novel consists of two stories told in parallel which may or may not be related, though it is not clear how, except both deal with war. The first concerns World War II. Martin is an eighteen-year old Frenchman who has been sent to work in Nuremberg as part of the Nazi forced labour programme. The work is hard but those forced labourers from the West have a certain amount of freedom to wander around the town and even get some pay. Those from the East do not have the same privileges. Apart from the work, Martin does have his problems, including persistent bombing raids by the Allies and being arrested for subversive activities.


The other story tells of a man who has survived World War III – though neither he nor we know exactly what World War III involved. He was writing a radio play before the war and continues to do so, though he knows full well that it will never be performed. He gradually sees things change – he cannot get butter or meat and the phone and mail stop functioning. There is limited radio and TV but they give no information about the war. He observes, he writes and he waits. Ollier tells a story of two men caught up in a war, with no control over their situation, and shows how they adapt to it. Martin explores Nuremberg, while the unnamed narrator observes and looks at his immediate environment, the rural French countryside. Neither gives in.

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