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Esther Tellermann. Encre plus rouge.

Esther Tellermann. Encre plus rouge. Paris. Flammarion. 2003. 237 pages. 19.50 [euro]. ISBN 2-0806-8433-7

THE LONG, PATIENT, EXPLODED poetic narrative of Esther Tellermann continues to evolve and even dramatically surprise with the publication of Encre plus rouge. No epic here, no manifest saga; neither elegy nor ode--and any lyricism that may be said to haunt the pages of this triptych--Etat d'urgence, Rouge couleur des nerfs, Encre plus rouge--would require careful meditation and definition in the light, say, of recent writings by Pinson, Broda, Maulpoix. Here is the first of two liminal texts:
 Encore toucher
 encore la cambrure
 et ce que nous voulons
 et crachons
 et notre soil.

Incompletion and parataxis vie with a yet clear desire for orchestration (two periods) and continuity; the saying is loosely situated and oriented, and contextualized quasi-socially, ethically (notre). It is a typical text, in many ways, of a volume moving between the poles of urgency and interrogation of past, vision and nostalgia.

The citational mode of earlier work persists; suspension and ellipsis abound, grammatical, referential, semantic; identities swirl, enigmatic, ungrounded except in pure grammar and implicit emotion; raw statement of what is (ce sont) gives but minimal (yet, implicitly, also cosmic) ontological rooting. Tellermann's dense yet oddly aerated thematics is dual: on the one hand, loss, death, undoing, blockage, pure appearance, displacement, illegibility, hesitancy; on the other, purification, bearing up, making of noise (language), renewal, desire, movement toward, offering received, music, gravity of telluric experience. And this, clearly, without any stability, synthesis, resolution. To "narrate" poetically for Tellermann seems to demand "[qu'on ecrive] plus avant dans la plainte," a kind of tireless deepening of the tense experience of self and other. This said, the third part of Encre plus rouge generates a tripartite poetics of consent (Amen), perhaps acquiescence, perhaps self-liberation; of oratorial or operatic melody (Aria); of conceivable transcendence and nonphysical otherness (of self and other) (Ange). If such a development seems poised to allow a seeing of "l'autre versant du monde," we should not finesse out of Tellermann's equations the intensification of a "redness" that inhabits her ink and that gives to her "narrative" its ethical and spiritual urgency. An important and distinctive voice.

Michael Bishop

Dalhousie University
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Author:Bishop, Michael
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2004
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