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This review is taken from PN Review 52, Volume 13 Number 2, November - December 1986.

AGAINST THE LIGHT Gabriel Josipovici, Contre-Jour: a triptych after Pierre Bonnard (Carcanet) £8.95

A daughter sits at her desk in what seems an empty flat, staring at a window facing south. 'I catch a glimpse of myself', she says, 'half-way between the two buildings, suspended, like a tight-rope walker, high up in space, with the room around me.' In 'This', a story dating from the early 1970s, Josipovici observed that 'the pane not only divides, but brings together'; like language, it separates 'in order to bring together'. In Josipovici's new novel Contre-Jour, the daughter - whose words occupy the first and much the longest part of the triptych - is trying to talk to Anna, her mother, from whose life and from whose relationship with Charles, her painter father, she has for ever felt excluded. In doing so she comes to appreciate that there is separateness and dependence inscribed in that relationship also, as the mother's talk to her daughter which constitutes part two of the novel confirms. The father says in one of his 'few bursts of speech': 'When I have a pencil or brush in my hand I feel I am confronting the lies, but the rest of the time I am simply living them.' To paint, to speak, to write, to reflect in the 'mirror of (the) mind' are ways of confronting lies and self-deception, of both 'looking out' and 'looking in' - the father, for example, stares 'out into' the room - are ways of bringing to life the distance which separates people from each other and from ...


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