6 March 2010

Jean–Marc Roberts, Les Seins de Blanche–Neige (1994)

The title of Jean-Marc Roberts's novel, Les Seins de Blanche-Neige (or 'Snow White's Breasts'), is a symbol of the loss of innocence, when experience begins to encroach on children's territory, and a first sign of that may be something like drawing breasts on a picture of Snow White. But for the protagonist father François, such an act that presages this loss of innocence is a thing of darkness and fatality. As his daughter Tracy says:

'Children no longer dream of the same games, of the same sweetness. Their dreams change color, smell, and size. They have grown up. They escape from us and lose their child status.'

And as a result of this change, the child-like father François must leave his family. As he has done four times, through four children, and four wives.

The story is told by each of the four children - now become four wounded adults - with four different versions of the events that link them and their father - who gradually seems increasingly sick as the tale generally moves back in time, from the youngest to the eldest child. François concludes the novel with an inconclusive letter to one of his children, although he is incapable of deciding which of them should receive it.

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