Suzanne Leblanc's The Thought House of Philippa transposes a theory of individuality into a stunningly reflective, sensuous and frank philosophical novel. Setting the chapters in the various rooms of the house Ludwig Wittgenstein designed for his sister in Vienna, Leblanc's novel lays out P.'s intensely emotional and intellectually acute way of seeing the world and her place in it. Prompted by early isolation, P. moves towards the Great World of others and Nature, alienated from the everyday, yet devoted to a deeper connection, in an exploration that is profound and moving. Ideas crucial to Wittgenstein's work—limit, freedom, interior and exterior, self and world—echo and shift in Leblanc's precise, incantatory prose, propelled through the architecture. The distinct voices of the novel's four sections act as musical movements, constructed from repetition, variation and development of language, in alternating keys of austerity and splendour. The effect—a pure expression of the passion of clear thought, the adventure of solitude, and the beauty of uncompromising encounter—is utterly riveting. A sui generis experimental novel not to be missed.
Suzanne Leblanc has a PhD in philosophy (1983) and in visual arts (2004) and has been teaching since 2003 at the School of Visual Arts at the University of Laval (Quebec). She has exhibited multi-media installations in Quebec and has published theoretical works in Germany, France, Switzerland and Canada. Her research and creative work deal with philosophical forms inherent in artistic disciplines. She is currently leading a research-creation group on artistic strategies for the spatialization of knowledge. La maison à penser de P. (La Peuplade, 2010) is her first novel.
Oana Avasilichioaei’s previous translations include Universal Bureau of Copyrights by Bertrand Laverdure, Wigrum by Quebecois writer Daniel Canty (2013), The Islands by Quebecoise poet Louise Cotnoir (2011) and Occupational Sickness by Romanian poet Nichita Stanescu (2006). In 2013, she edited a feature on Quebec French writing in translation for Aufgabe (New York). she has also played in the bounds of translation and creation in a poetic collaboration with Erín Moure, Expeditions of a Chimæra, (2009). Her most recent poetry collection is We, Beasts (2012; winner of the QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry), and her audio work can be found on Pennsound. She lives in Montreal. Learn more about Avasilichioaei at www.oanalab.com.
Ingrid Pam Dick (aka Gregoire Pam Dick, Mina Pam Dick, Jake Pam Dick et al.) is the author of Metaphysical Licks (BookThug 2014) and Delinquent (Futurepoem, 2009). Her writing has appeared in BOMB, frieze, The Brooklyn Rail, Aufgabe, EOAGH, Fence, Matrix, Open Letter, Poetry Is Dead, and elsewhere, and has been featured in Postmodern Culture; it is included in the anthologies The Sonnets (ed. S. Cohen and P. Legault, Telephone, 2012) and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, (ed. TC Tolbert and Tim Trace Peterson, Nightboat, 2013). Her philosophical work has appeared in a collection published by the International Wittgenstein Symposium. Also an artist and translator, Dick lives in New York City, where she is currently doing work that makes out and off with Büchner, Wedekind, Walser, and Michaux.
The best Quebecois novel I read this year... The book's beauty rests in offering a series of reflections built on philosophical concepts, which, as the narrative progresses, take an aesthetic form that is both sculpted and boundless. (François Cloutier, Goodreads)
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