Julien Gracq: Le Rivage des Syrtes (The Opposing Shore)

The latest addition to my website is Julien Gracq‘s Le Rivage des Syrtes (The Opposing Shore). This is is considered Gracq’s best novel, though clearly is related to Dino Buzzati‘s Il deserto dei Tartari (The Tartar Steppe). Like the Buzzati, our hero goes to the remote outpost of a fading empire, which borders a mysterious country. The two countries are at war. Our hero is Aldo, a man from an influential family, the country is Orsenna and the remote outpost is the Syrtes of the French title. There has been a war lasting three hundred years with Farghestan, but there is no fighting and, indeed, no contact between the countries. The men there generally hunt and fish and go to the nearest town, Maremma, to party, though Aldo prefers to remain at Syrtes and enjoy the remote port. When he meets Vanessa,, daughter of another influential family, though one with a bad reputation, things start to change. Something is clearly going on and Vanessa, Aldo and others are clearly tired of this uneasy peace. The book is still in print in English and is well worth reading.

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