We Defy Augury
We defy augury. There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come . . . the readiness is all.
Under the sign of Hamlet’s last act, Hélène Cixous, in her eightieth year, launched her new book—and the latest chapter in her Human Comedy, her Search for Lost Time. Surely one of the most delightful, in its exposure of the seams of her extraordinary craft, We Defy Augury finds the reader among familiar faces. In these pages we encounter Eve, the indomitable mother; Jacques Derrida, the faithful friend; children, neighbors; and always the literary forebears: Montaigne, Diderot, Proust and, in one moving passage, Erich Maria Remarque. We Defy Augury moves easily from Cixous’s Algerian childhood, to Bacharach in the Rhineland, to, eerily, the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center, in the year 2000. In one of the most astonishing passages in this tour-de-force performance of the art of digression, Cixous proclaims: ‘My books are free in their movements and in their choice of routes [ . . . ]. They are the product of many makers, dreamed, dictated, cobbled together.’ This unique experience, which could only have come from the pen of Cixous, is now available in English, and readers are sure to delight in this latest work by one of France’s most celebrated writer-philosophers.
‘Cixous is in my eyes, today, the greatest writer in the French language. And I am weighing my words as I say that. For a great writer must be a poet-thinker, very much a poet and a very thinking poet.’ —Jacques Derrida
‘We Defy Augury begins by recalling the year 2020, symmetrical as two lovers or as Manhattan’s Twin Towers, a touchstone place of this book. In a style airier than ever . . . fuelled by dreams . . . Hélène Cixous opens the fourth drawer of time. Memories, happy or cruel, spring up, time and place are telescoped into the closed space of the book: from logical digression to magical digression, the voice of the mother and that of Isaac, the beloved, are entwined, bringing with them dozens of characters in an extraordinary revelry.’—Bertrand Leclair, Le Monde des Livres
‘Cixous, important as she is as a feminist theorist and activist, is equally important as an accurate emotional sounding board for women everywhere. As such, her articulation of powerful, if delicate, perceptions in lucid prose/poetry compels the attention of European and American readers. . . . The power of her prose is philosophically sound.’—Choice
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