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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Moderate wear on cover and edges. Minimal highlighting and/or other markings can be present. May be ex-library copy and may not include CD, Accessories and/or Dust Cover. Good readable copy.
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Prehistoric Times Paperback – Deckle Edge, Jun 15 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago; Tra edition (June 15 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193574416X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744160
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 0.9 x 16.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,142,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Prehistoric Times shows Chevillard at his best: off-kilter and linguistically dazzling, playful and acrobatic, quite mad but always entertaining—and all impossibly captured by Alyson Waters' fluid and masterful translation. —Brian Evenson, author of Windeye and Immobility

Chevillard’s book is a very profound contemplation on the nature of posterity; it may even be inferred that throughout Prehistoric Times Chevillard writes with an awareness that his own artistic production will be dwarfed within the great span of time against which all human beings must live out their brief existence. —Jordan Anderson, The Quarterly Conversation

Praise for Chevillard’s Palafox:

Mix together one pinch of surrealism, one pinch of ‘situationalism,’ stir in a large measure of poetry, quite a bit of talent and you will get a glittering novel of intelligence and humor . . . —Jean-Claude Lebrun, Révolution

Eric Chevillard involves his reader in a powerful meditation on evil, foolishness, and inhumanity lurking in the heart of man. —Jean-Maurice de Montremy, Lire

The current American new fabulism could learn a great deal from this very amusing book and its willingness to take real narrative risks...Beautifully translated by Wyatt Mason, Palafox is a must for anyone interested in anti-realist fiction. —Rain Taxi

Eric Chevillard involves his reader in a powerful meditation on evil, foolishness, and inhumanity lurking in the heart of man. —Jean-Maurice de Montremy

About the Author

Eric Chevillard is one of the most inventive authors writing in French today. His novels include On the Ceiling, The Crab Nebula, and Demolishing Nisard, all translated by Jordan Stump, and Palafox (Archipelago), translated by Wyatt Mason.

Alyson Waters’s translations include Albert Cossery’s A Splendid Conspiracy and The Colors of Infamy, Vassilis Alexakis’s Foreign Words, René Belletto’s Coda, and – with Donald Nicholson- Smith – Yasmina Khadra’s Cousin K. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Yale University and New York University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9e14c24c) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e183e4c) out of 5 stars Fun Times in Prehistory July 29 2013
By James W. Fonseca - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a book of elaborate word play, translated from the French. It's about archaeology, reflected upon by a graduate student who is in charge of a gift shop and giving tours of cave paintings. But he's a lackadaisical dreamer, we surmise, by the number of time he incites fury in his supervising professor and by the fact that in the end he gets fired and barricades himself in the gift shop! Amid the convoluted writing style we learn a bit about geology, bone fossilization, Carbon 14 dating and methods of cave paintings used in prehistoric times. Our narrator also performs some amateur archaeology by going through the stuff in drawers accumulated by his predecessor. But the main fun is in the words: "...must certain men remain immobile, inert even, so as to serve as reference points for the active ones...and bad examples? "...digression really is the shortest distance between two points, the straight line being so very congested." "Whereas we are sure of absolutely nothing when it comes to prehistoric times, we know nothing, or almost nothing." "In truth, everything is very simple and somewhat disappointing." We can see from these quotes why our narrator got in trouble. It's an "interesting" book, but to be honest, I think you would have to be an archaeologist or, better, a graduate student in archaeology to really like it.
HASH(0x9f514864) out of 5 stars A demotion to a guide/guard for prehistoric paintings - can we de-evolve? July 20 2014
By TonyMess - Published on
Format: Paperback
Talk about going from the absurd to the ridiculous, I should have thought about my next reading journey a little deeper than just picking up Chevillard and saying “this will do”, from Krasznahorkai to Chevillard, now there’s a journey. Quarterly have described Chevillard as “France’s foremost absurdist”, even Wikipedia says “postmodernist literature”, yep I’m in for a surprise.

Our novel opens with our unnamed protagonist/narrator telling us that he is unfit for the job of guard/guide of the Pales caves as the uniform is too small, the cap is too large and the shoes too big. The caves contain Palaeolithic paintings, and our protagonist has been “demoted” to the role of guide/guard as he injured himself falling whilst on an archaeologist tour (he’s is an archaeologist without a kneecap).

This is where our novel takes a turn into the land of “strange”, our writer doesn’t want to actually start our protagonist’s story, our guide doesn’t want to go to work as a guide, procrastination and delay are the themes, our hero is potentially unevolving (?), disevolving(?), evolving backwards, is he slowly becoming prehistoric?

No two skulls are alike, as any peasant growing his turnips on the site of an ancient necropolis can tell you; no two turnips either, even if an exhumed skull is sometimes so similar to a turnip that you can mistake one for the other. When you think about it, it might even be that our particular casts of mind – each unique – depend solely on the shape of our skull, individual thought testing itself first against the bone of its brainpan, like music molding itself to the geometry of a dome without regard for the musician’s intentions. Just a hypotheses I’m throwing out here. Indeed, I’m going beyond the call of my duties. But since I haven’t yet taken them up…Let’s grant for a moment that this hypothesis is correct, in which case we can legitimately claim that one’s thoughts will develop more freely in a huge-domed skull – but with the risk of getting lost or confused – than in a narrow, pointy skull, unless, on the contrary, they become sharper and burst forth, which is not impossible. My starting hypothesis thus branches out into diverging subhypotheses: this is how webs are woven; truth cannot be caught by the hand.

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