Sarx moves across an existential landscape suggested by Herodotus’ account of Scythians, a landscape of flesh (sarx) and of flesh bitten into (sarcasm). Sarcasm is language in a state of nature, negating its own message in favor of body, of surface rather than depth, of clarity rather than import. Quignard’s Sarx is a postmodern Waste Land--no King, no Grail, no Question.
Pascal Quignard was born in 1948 in Verneuil. In 1994 he resigned from all his jobs. He has published eighty-four “Little Treatises,” five novels, and translations from the Latin (Albucius, Porcius Latro), the Chinese (Kong-souen Long), and the Greek (Lycophron). The film, All the World’s Mornings was made from Quignard’s novel of the same title (Graywolf Press). Two other novels are also available in English: Alb clits (The Lapis Press) and The Salon in Württenberg (Grove Weidenfeld).
Quignard’s Sarx is an eerie, chillling prose poem on the violence of language, on a particular historical example of the flesh become word and the word become flesh. You’ve heard of “biting sarcasm? “Sarcasm” derives from the Greek:
From sarx, flesh.Sarkasmos, sarcasmus: to bite into the flesh.
A compelling work of beauty and depth, of history and today.”
-Tom Bowden, Education Digest