The Apocrypha—Robert Pinget (translated from the French by Barbara Wright) with an afterward “The Apocrypha or the New Law” by Stephen Bann
Hardback/143 pages/ ISBN 0-87376-050-6
The Apocrypha begins and ends with the image of a shepherd, at the start a bucolic shepherd on a shattered cup, at the end the Good Shepherd, an illustration in a book. The narrative inherited by the Master from an uncle and carried on by succeeding nephews: “so that the story of one person would become that of several” is divided in two main parts. In each voices, fragments, notes from earlier texts are tied together by the succession of the seasons and succession of the holy days. The present narrator attempts to “Take up once again the thread of an obsolete discourse” to hear the murmur of dead people “which stops at the slightest sign of inadvertence” and to preserve “a word of love lingering in the deepest recesses of the ear.”
We know the difference between history, fiction and myth… we also know that these three provinces are bound together…that any gesture of separating one from another must be to a large extent arbitrary…Only Pinget, so it seems to me, has made teleology, myth and the culture of the West the vehicle for a sustained, poetic and structural investigation…Pinget’s The Apocrypha must always, in a sense, subsume all the previous novels which led up to it… the narrative order itself acquires an ever accentuated self-reflexivity… But this is not done in the interest of some severely reductive, mechanistic view of human psychology…It is done… in the interest of that very complex synthesis which Serres identifies as the ungraspable structure of human history.
From “The Apocrypha or the New Law” Stephen Bann
They get out of the car. On moonless nights a flashlight guides the old man’s steps.
There follows a description of the cemetery which worries the executor of the will. He hesitates about where to classify the document, the aspect of the text makes him doubt its authenticity.
He is still hesitating. But what does it matter, what he has to do is reassemble the material of a book to be written, that’s all, he will never be its author, he is executing a clause in the will, if that. Everyone knows that the original was rewritten dozens of times, several variants exist crouched in contradictory terms.
The professor to whom he confides his difficulties replies without hesitation my dear fellow you mustn’t worry, at the end of his life he gave me several of his exercise books to read, and in spite of the different periods at which he wrote them, gaps of twenty years between some, you can always recognize the same ink. Tormenting yourself over such details is just childishness.
from The Apocrypha