Lydie Salvayre’s Portrait de l’écrivain en animal domestique
This chapter reads Lydie Salvayre's Portrait de l’écrivain en animal domestique (2007). In this novel, Salvayre’s anxieties about allowing oneself—and even herself as author—to be domesticated by the logic of global capitalism are condensed into the pathological relationship between her narrator avatar (who incarnates politically-engaged literature) and the satirical Jim Tobold, the richest man on the planet and ‘uncontested champion of globalization’—a character who, incidentally, bears more than a passing resemblance to Donald Trump. Tobold sees the world at the level of the master, corporate map, from which he can make boardroom decisions in perfect disregard for their harmful, ground-level side effects. This chapter revisits and further explores Bruno Latour on cartographic megalomania, and draws on Fredric Jameson on cognitive mapping, and David Harvey on the self-defeating contradictions of the infinite expansion paradigm of capitalism in a world of increasingly finite resources. Moreover, it develops the Salvaryean notion of the paralipomenon, offering a new perspective on Salvayre’s underlying (engaged) literary strategy, one that, by focusing on the seemingly insignificant details of a hegemonic discourse—such as that of free-market capitalism—reveals its inherent contradictions and flaws.
Keywords: Lydie Salvayre, Portrait de l’écrivain en animal domestique/ Portrait of the Writer as a Domesticated Animal, La médaille, Donald Trump, David Harvey, Bruno Latour, Paralipomena, Cognitive Mapping, Fredric Jameson, Globalization
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