6 June 2020

Éric Chevillard: Dino Egger (2011)

Éric Chevillard specialises in nothingness, or rather in absence, and in a sense the novel Dino Egger is a hymn, or elegy, to absence. What would the world be without Plato, Pythagoras, Shakespeare, Newton, Marx, Einstein, Cervantes, Rembrandt, Archimedes, Columbus, and so on? We don't know, we have no idea. But then, what if Dino Egger had existed? What would the world have looked like then? He could have changed the world! But again, he didn't exist, so he didn't change the world.

Nevertheless this novel hinges on hypothesis, and charnière (the French for hinge) is one of Chevillard's favourite words. We move into Perec territory, as in Les Choses, into the past conditional tense, of what would have or could have been. And the narrator Albert Moindre – who has played a bit part or a walk-on part in some of Chevillard's previous novels – plays on the possibilities to the full: Dino Egger could have lived anywhere in the world at any time, could have been repsonsible for for n number of inventions, could have changed the world in so many ways. So Moindre goes in search of him, goes all over the world researching, digging deep into archives without enjoying the places he's visiting.

About halfway through the book there's a twenty-two page section from a kind of diary, a record that could have been written by Dino Egger. It seems to be about a secret plot to change the world in some (unspecified) way, and people belonging to this society have died in the process. But the only things that are mentioned are everyday activities that anyone else might do, and people (such as someone riding a bike and carrying a fishing rod, or a woman carrying a bag from the chemist's) are seen as threatening.

Dino Egger is of course another of Éric Chevillard's exercises in the absurd, a paradoxical world in which commonsense is nonsense, and vice versa, ending in the narrator becoming the man who doesn't exist: as ever, pure unadulterated pleasure from Chevillard.

My Éric Chevillard posts:
Éric Chevillard: Oreille rouge | Red Ear (2005)
Éric Chevillard: L'Explosion de la tortue (2019)
Éric Chevillard: La Nébuleuse du crabe | The Crab Nebula (1993)
Éric Chevillard – Au plafond | On the Ceiling
Éric Chevillard: Le Désordre azerty
Éric Chevillard: Dino Egger
Éric Chevillard: Le Vaillant Petit Tailleur
Éric Chevillard: Le Caoutchouc décidément
Éric Chevillard: Palafox
Éric Chevillard: Un fantôme
Éric Chevillard: Du hérisson | Of the Hedgehog
Éric Chevillard: Démolir Nisard | Demolishing Nisard

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