Sunday, 19 March 2017

Newspaper by Édouard Levé    {Reviewed by THOMAS}
Édouard Levé and I drew our first breaths almost simultaneously, and we have been similarly concerned with the problematics of authorial presence in (or absence from) texts, although Levé concluded his struggles in this regard by killing himself immediately after delivering the manuscript for his novel Suicide in 2007. In Newspaper (first published in French in 2004), Levé succeeds in removing himself from the text almost entirely. Though presented as a book, the work takes the form of a newspaper, divided into the standard various sections, complete with articles, advertisements and so forth, from which all specificity has been removed (names, places, currencies, dates, identities), leaving only the patterns of information and the linguistic structures which support them. Shorn of referents, a newspaper is shown to be not so much outward-looking as inward-looking, a portrait of the obsessions and underlying anxieties of the society of which it is an organ. Subjects are shown to be incidental to stories, created and consumed by them. I am pretty sure I remember some of the stories here so treated and I suspect Levé has been rigorous throughout in his experiment upon written media (he achieved something similar in his photographic practice (in Actualités and Quotidien (2001-2003)) by restaging press photographs using anonymised actors and a blank backdrop). It is only in the ‘Arts’ section that some slight residue of the personal can perhaps be detected, some indication that for Levé at that time the arts still slightly resisted the personally obliterative interchangeability that had engulfed the rest of existence.

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