Image for post
Image for post
Waiting for genius. (Fernand Michaud)

As a fan of Pynchon and Sterne, who studied Flaubert in grad school and was somehow cast in a production of Godot in high school, I was taken aback that I never heard of Bouvard et Pécuchet. It’s in my library, at the top of my list.

I will admit my disappointment that the posted reviews sounded like the sycophants that drove me crazy as a student, and teacher. It felt like the reviewers read the other reviews and not the book.

(This also seemed to be the case in grad school, when everyone’s opinion of seemed to be formed by the person who remembered a brilliant bon mot by someone who knew someone who read it. As an experiment, a colleague and I invented a reference to “the passing of the golden key” from Bloom to Dedalus.[1] The next year the reference was incorporated into a professor’s lecture.)

I appreciate the review, although you had me hooked at “a pair of imbeciles who attempt to learn everything about everything in all of human history.” Had the synopsis read: “a pair of imbeciles who claim to know everything in all of human history without bothering to read any of it,” I would feel it is the perfect novel for our times.

[1]: I will refrain from referencing the work in question, or the name of the institution of higher learning.

Written by

Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store