Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s Fuir
This chapter turns to Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s Fuir [Running Away] (Prix Médicis, 2005), which takes place in the overcrowded and fever-pitched territories of industrial hubs of Shanghai and Beijing of the 2000s. There, even Toussaint’s perennially laconic narrator finds himself caught up in the frenzy and panic of the compressed space-time of impending catastrophe that prevails. Toussaint’s narrator, like a postmodern Angel of (the end of) History, following the example of his muse Marie, discovers in an epiphany that ‘adequation’ with a world cast into the accelerated flight of globalization is not harmonious like its cartographic or commercial representations, but, rather, chaotic, always already beyond itself; true adequation with such a world turns out to be, paradoxically, a permanent state of décalage. This chapter reads Fuir in light of Bruno Latour’s reading of Walter Benjamin’s concept of the Angel of History. Moreover, it demonstrates the importance and after-effects of Toussaint’s narrator’s epiphany in Fuir for the subsequent novels in the Marie Madeleine Marguerite de Montalte (MMMM) tetralogy.
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