At the City Hall in a small town in the South of France, one man starts his campaign to correct the ills that have overtaken his proud nation by lecuring the town's inhabitants on the art of conversation. In the narrator's opinion, "coversation is a specialty that is most eminently French," an art that should be nurtured and practiced, and can help repair France's reputation. Not to mention being a good conversationalist is extremely useful for seducing women, which is how the narrator managed to attract Lucienne, his "superbly lumpish" wife who died two months before giving this lecture. One of the oddest characters in contemporary fiction, the lecturer in this novel can't help but digress about his sad life in the midst of his speech, giving the reader a view of a self-centered man trying to turn one of his greatest faults into a virtue to be forced on everyone else. By turns ironic, hilarious, pathetic, and mortifying, Salvayre's The Lecture is an exuberant example of the exciting fiction being written in France.