Terrace-romeTomoé Hill at The Quarterly Review:

To say that Pascal Quignard’s words are a meditation or an exploration is too simplistic—there is a philosophical stream of consciousness in his writing that has a realism both enlightened and carnal which attempts to grasp the essence of human nature in a handful of grand themes. While these are revisited (and often together), the nuances of the subjects in which he finds connections ensure that an originality is retained: sex, whether the act itself or the analysis of its echoing effects on the psyche; art; mythology; books; and death, as found in Sex and Terror, The Sexual Night, and The Roving Shadows, among others. These are his themes, and memory is always present in what links them. Reading Quignard, one is struck by the feeling that they are witnessing someone transcribing his thoughts, pure and fresh as they form in the mind, or to use a fitting mythological connection, Athena springing from the head of Zeus.

A Terrace in Rome, his fictional tale of the engraver Meaume, once handsome until disfigured by an acid attack to the face by the fiancé of his lover Nanni, does not stray from Quignard’s singular view of people. The result is a seamless blending of real and fantasy. His signature fragmentary reflections come together to create a character so convincing that one could be excused from wondering if Meaume was in fact a real engraver of the seventeenth century.

more here.