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This article is taken from PN Review 200, Volume 37 Number 6, June - July 2011.

How to Make a Square Move Gabriel Josipovici
I’ve always been fascinated by the kind of structure I call A…B…C…Z…A, that is by the idea of a story that moves ineluctably forward into its own beginning. My early novel, The Echo Chamber, was an attempt to write such a story. I’ve also been fascinated by what I call the X structure, where A moves into B as B moves into A. My most successful version of that is a story I wrote in the early 1980s called ‘Brothers’.

Why do such forms excite, almost obsess me? This is very complicated – but I think it has to do first of all with a love of the impossible, with the feeling that art which merely mirrors life is not very interesting, but that art becomes interesting (to the artist at any rate) when it succeeds in creating an impossible object. Stories of the kind I have outlined above, if successful, have a quality of the unheimlich or uncanny, which appeals to me – that, at any rate, is the kind of story I like to read, and which I seem to feel drawn to write.

But behind this lies another, related reason, one which is linked to Valéry’s famous remark that he would never want to write the kind of novel that began with ‘La Marquise sortit à cinq heures…’ In other words, he wants fiction which escapes the merely anecdotal and becomes the enacting of an event – or, from another point of view, he ...


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