Otte, Jean-Pierre 1949-
OTTE, Jean-Pierre 1949-
Agent—c/o George Braziller, Inc., 171 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.
Le coeur dans sa gousse, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1976.
Julienne et la rivière, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1977.
(With Georges Larondelle) Wallonie aux couleurs de coq, Gembloux (Paris, France), 1978.
Blaise Menil, mains de menthe: le guérisseur, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1979.
Nicholas Gayoûle: fêtes, fureurs et passions en terre d'Ardenne, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1980.
Les gestes du commencement: chroniques des sources et des sourciers, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1982.
Celui qui oublie où conduit le chemin: voyages autour de ma maison et dans les villes, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1984.
Le ravissement, R. Laffont (Paris, France), 1987.
Les matins du monde, Seghers (Paris, France), Volume 1: Les aubes sauvages: les mythes de la Création, du cercle polaire à l'Oceanie, 1994, Volume 2: Les aubes enchantées: les mythes de la Création, du cercle polaire à l'Oceanie, 1994, Volume 3: Les naissances de la femme: les mythes de la création, due cercle polaire à l'Océanie, 1996.
L'amour au jardin, preface by Jacques Lacarrière, Phébus (Paris, France), 1995, translation by Moishe Black and Maria Green published as Love in the Garden, G. Braziller (New York, NY), 2000.
L'amour en eaux dormantes, Editions Julliard (Paris, France), 1996.
Histoires du plaisir d'exister, Editions Julliard (Paris, France), 1997.
Le chant de soi-même: récits d'initiation du cercle polaire à l'Océanie, Editions Julliard (Paris, France), 1998.
Petite tribu de femmes, Editions Julliard (Paris, France), 1999.
La sexualité d'un plateau de fruits de mer, Editions Julliard (Paris, France), 2000, translation by Marjolijn de Jager published as The Courtship of Sea Creatures, G. Braziller (New York, NY), 2001.
Jean-Pierre Otte is a French author of novels, short stories, and works of nonfiction. World Literature Today contributor Maxine G. Cutler reviewed his lyric prose poem Les gestes du commencement: chroniques des sources et des sourciers, in which Otte chronicles the rituals performed by present-day artisans who practice ancient skills, including those of the glassblower, potter, blacksmith, basket weaver, shepherd, and beekeeper. "Elevated by the writer's vision," Cutler wrote, "they join with past and future beyond the vicissitudes of time and space. If Otte's glorification of the artisan seems sentimental, it is redeemed by his sense of language, which both sustains and supports the artist's sacred function."
One of Otte's works which has been translated into English is Love in the Garden, originally titled L'amour au jardin. The love Otte writes of is actually the procreation of insects and plants. He notes that because chance plays a big part in the continuation of these species, various plants and insects use tricks to attract the partners who will ensure that the job gets done. Otte describes how the bee orchid emits the scent of a female bee which attracts male bees to the flower. The second bee to land assumes the first is a female, and the ensuing tussle guarantees that the flowers are fertilized as the bewildered and frustrated bees fly to another blossom to repeat the process all over again. The thirteen flowers Otte studies include the grape hyacinth, which produces "teaser flowers," and the fig, which guarantees fertilization by offering a second set of flowers that attract nesting flies.
The insects described include those who eat their mates, such as the cannibalistic female spider, and the praying mantis that eats her partner during the sex act. The revenge of the female garden beetle comes after the male beetle unceremoniously mounts her and leaves. The female, in response, goes after the male, flips him onto his back, rips open his gut, and eats it.
Maria Green wrote in World Literature Today that Otte "claims that, as a modern writer, he wants to establish an intimacy that is lost today. He does not intend to enrich the scientific knowledge of his readers, thus alienating them even further. He wants rather to involve them, through sexuality and all the senses, with the intimate turbulence of LIFE."
In The Courtship of Sea Creatures, originally titled La sexualité d'un plateau de fruits de mer, Otte observes the reproductive songs and dances that take place as sea urchins, cuttlefish, crabs, bivalves, and other creatures of the ocean cast about in the tidal pools and on the beaches of the French coast. A Publishers Weekly reviewer said the book feels like a nature program on public television, but one in which the commentator "has begun to take the sex scenes entirely too personally. But the author does it with such humor and skill that it's hard to fault him." The reviewer called the volume "voluptuous" and "a rich, briny read." Susan Salter Reynolds wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Otte's language, "deceptively scientific, then romantic, then philosophical, is reminiscent of Rachel Carson and Terry Tempest Williams."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, November, 2001, J. A. Mather, review of The Courtship of Sea Creatures, p. 540.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 27, 2001, Susan Salter Reynolds, "Discoveries," p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2001, review of The Courtship of Sea Creatures, p. 63.
World Literature Today, spring, 1983, Maxine G. Cutler, review of Les gestes du commencement: chroniques des sources et des sourciers, pp. 240-241; spring, 1996, Maria Green, review of L'amour au jardin, p. 362.*