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Châteaureynaud, Georges-Olivier 1947–

Châteaureynaud, Georges-Olivier 1947–

PERSONAL: Born 1947.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Zulma, 122, Bd. Haussmann, 75008 Paris, France.

CAREER: Writer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grand Prix du Roman, 1974, for Les messagers; Prix Renaudot, 1982, for La faculté des songes; Goncourt Prize, for best short story.

WRITINGS:

Le fou dans la chaloupe, B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1973.

Les messagers (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1974, revised edition, La Table Ronde (Paris, France), 1990.

La belle charbonnière (short stories), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1976.

Mathieu Chain (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1978.

Le Verger, Balland (Paris, France), 1978.

La faculté des songes (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1982.

Le congrès de fantomologie (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1985.

(With Danièle Thompson) Le tiroir secret (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1986.

La fortune: et autres textes, Castor Astral (Talence, France), 1987.

Le héros blessé au bras (short stories), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1987.

Le jardin dans l'île (short stories), Presses de la Renaissance (Paris, France), 1989.

Le jardin d'Éden: la seule mortelle, illustrated by Georges Lemoine, Nompareille (Paris, France), 1992.

Nouvelles, 1972–1988 (short stories), Julliard (Paris, France), 1993.

Le kiosque et le tilleul (short stories), Julliard (Paris, France), 1993.

Le château de verre (novel), Julliard (Paris, France), 1994.

Monsieur d'Orsay, photographs by Philippe Bertin, Cercle d'Art (Paris, France), 1995.

Le Styx et autres nouvelles (short stories), Littéra (Arras, France), 1995.

Les ormeaux, Editions du Rocher (Monaco), 1996.

Le goût de l'ombre (short stories), Actes Sud (Arles, France), 1997.

Le démon à la crécelle (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1999.

Le conquête du Pérou: récit, Editions du Rocher (Monaco), 1999.

Les chevaliers sans nom (short stories), Nestiveqnen (Paris, France), 2001.

Civils de plomb, Editions du Rocher (Monaco), 2002.

Au fond du paradis (novel), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 2002.

(With Hubert Haddad and Frédérick Tristan) Petite suite cherbourgeoise (short stories), Editions du Rocher (Monaco), 2004.

Singe savant tabassé par deux clowns (short stories), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud is a French short story author and novelist whose partly surrealistic tales place him, according to critics like Review of Contemporary Fiction contributor John Taylor, into the "Romantic heritage" school of modern French storytellers. Taylor elaborated, "The fictional worlds he creates are reminiscent of but strangely apart from our own." In a review of Châteaureynaud's prize-winning novel Les messagers, Taylor noted in the Times Literary Supplement that Châteaureynaud's fiction is "an austere other-worldly mobile" that belongs with "the lineage of [Edgar Allan] Poe and [Franz] Kafka." The author's tales, which often feature ordinary, hapless main characters, are fairly realistic in nature but tinged with an element of fantasy.

Among the novels that fall into this somewhat other-worldly setting are Châteaureynaud's La faculté des songes and Les messagers. The first title, which earned the author the Prix Renaudot, features three lonely men who establish a sort of club in an abandoned house. There they find a measure of camaraderie, as well as a mother/lover figure in the form of Louise. Eventually, however, their oasis is lost and they must return to their real lives. Although Stephen Smith, writing in the French Review, found it difficult to suspend disbelief and become fully engaged in the story, the critic praised the "rich, precise vocabulary and the deft manipulation of literary French." Les messagers, which Taylor described in his Times Literary Supplementreview as "a captivating exercise in intriguing symbolism," is about a young, aimless man who inherits the job of messenger from an acquaintance who has been traveling the world in an effort to deliver a message of unknown content.

A similar theme concerning the journey through life appears in the short story "La seule mortelle," published in Le jardin d'Éden: la seule mortelle and in the novel Le château de verre. In the short story, the narrator encounters a woman who was once mistaken for an immortal and allowed to live in a Tibetan Eden, but when she is found to actually be mortal, she is thrown out of paradise. After hearing the tale, the narrator similarly tells the woman to leave. He soon regrets the decision, however, and goes on a doomed quest to find her. In Le château de verre, two twelfth-century travelers, Job de Logonna and Marie de France, relate their life stories to each other while on their way to meet their loved ones. The story of Job from the Bible is clearly used as Châteaureynaud's inspiration for his character's tale, but he also draws on the epic romances of the Middle Ages. Thus, as Maryann De Julio commented in her World Literature Today review, Le château de verre "can be read as a literary history."

Many of Châteaureynaud's short stories bear similar qualities of surrealism and poetic use of language. In a review of Le kiosque et le tilleul for World Literature Today, critic Donald J. Dziekowicz indicated that the author's themes include "dream and reality, the effects of death upon a loved one, the ironies of fate, and the knowledge of one's mortality," all of which "are singularly presented in a quasi-surrealist mode." The reviewer complimented Châteaureynaud on the "versatility" in "his use of language" and concluded that the stories are "noteworthy for their originality as well as for the psychological territories they invite us to explore."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

French Review, October, 1979, Paul A. Mankin, review of Mathieu Chain, p. 151; October, 1983, Stephen Smith, review of La faculté des songes, pp. 134-135.

Observer (London, England), January 2, 1983, John Weightman, "From the Crab Basket," review of La faculté des songes, p. 46.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 1989, John Taylor, review of Le jardin dans l'île, pp. 214-215.

Times Literary Supplement, September 7, 1990, John Taylor, "Deviations from the Real," review of Les messagers, p. 955; September 25, 1992, John Taylor, "Painless Progress," review of Le jardin d'Éden: la seule mortelle, pp. 13-14.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1994, Donald J. Dziekowicz, review of Le kiosque et le tilleul, p. 776; summer, 1995, Maryann De Julio, review of Le château de verre, p. 548.

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