Le Clézio, Jean-Marie Gustave

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Le Clézio, Jean-Marie Gustave

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, 1940–, French novelist, b. Nice, grad. Univ. of Nice (L. ès L., 1963), Univ. of Aix-en-Provence (M.A., 1964), Univ. of Perpignan (D. ès L., 1983). He spent much of his childhood in Nigeria, has lived in North and Central America, Asia, and N Africa, and has taught and traveled throughout the world. These experiences are reflected in the cosmopolitan character, varied settings, and cross-cultural emphasis of his work. His first novel, Le procès-verbal (1963, tr. The Interrogation, 1964), displayed his characteristic poetic and often surreal treatment of language and themes of alienation and escape. Less experimental from the 1970s on, his fiction frequently reflects the world of his childhood, a concern with ecology, a love of adventure, and a belief in the limitations of rationalism.

His many other novels include La Guerre (1970, tr. War, 1973) and Les Géants (1973, tr. The Giants, 1975), both of which contrast urban life with the world of nature; Désert (1980, tr. Desert, 2009), which portrays the culture of the North African Tauregs, colonial evils, and a brutal European society; Le Chercheur d'or (1985, tr. The Prospector, 1993); the semiautobiographical Onitsha (1991, tr. 1997); Étoile errante (1992, tr. Wandering Star, 2004); and Ritournelle de la faim (2008). Among his other works are short stories, e.g., La Fièvre (1965, tr. Fever, 1967); memoirs, e.g., L'Africain (2004); essays, e.g., Ballaciner (2007), a personal exploration of the art of film; and children's books, e.g., Lullaby (1980). In 2008 Le Clézio was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

See studies by J. R. Waelti-Walters (1977), B. Martin (1995), and K. A. Moser (2008).

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