Back to entry: le_clezio_j_m_g | Show links black

Le Clézio, J M G

(1940-    ) French author, born to Mauritian parents, and peripatetic for many years, his countries of residence including Nigeria, the UK and the USA; now primarily resident in France, America and Mauritius. Although he is known primarily for his work outside the sf field, much of his early work makes extensive use – though in an Absurdist and/or nouvelle roman mode – of sf tropes and topoi, beginning with Le procès-verbal (1963; trans Daphne Woodward as The Interrogation 1964). The most insistent topos associated with Le Clézio may be that of the City-as-world; the circumambient city, in a novel like Le livre des fuites (1969; trans Simon Watson-Taylor as The Book of Flights: An Adventure Story 1971), works as a kind of surreal tympanum whose boundaries are illimitable and never to be comprehended, though the "adventure" of human self-absorption is permissible. His work also evokes sf through its minute examination of physical phenomena and aspects of reality: as though a thorough enough representation of the world may, as in sf, explain something. His hallucinatory scrutiny of manifestations of madness in the world at large is best demonstrated in Les géants (1973; trans Simon Watson-Taylor as The Giants 1975), set in Hyperbolis, a nightmare shopping complex in another futuristic City.

Le Clézio's later career, during which he has published a large number of formidable works in various modes, has had very little to do with sf, though Désert (1980) makes sophisticated play with the Lost World genre in a tale which confronts European civilization with African precedents, and Le Chercheur d'or (1985; trans Carol Marks as The Prospector 1993; new trans C Dickson 2016) plays with myths of origin of America in a manner which may prefigure some of the later work of writers like Thomas Pynchon. The comparative clarity of his more recent work has brought him to an extremely wide audience. Le Clézio's work can easily be associated, though loosely, with Magic Realism, a form whose etiology is glancingly articulated in his nonfiction Le rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue (1988; trans Teresa Lavender Fagan as The Mexican Dream: Or, the Interrupted Thought of Mexican Civilization 1993) (see Imperialism); a late novel, Ourania (2006), is a recuperative Utopia set in Mexico. Le Clézio was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2008. [JC/MJ]

see also: Media Landscape.

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

born Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France: 13 April 1940

works (selected)

nonfiction (highly selected)


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 15:15 pm on 3 December 2021.