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Description - Gemini by Michel Tournier

Jean and Paul are identical twins. Outsiders, even their parents, cannot tell them apart, and call them Jean-Paul. The mysterious bond between them excludes all others; they speak their own language; they are one perfectly harmonious unit; they are, in all innocence, lovers. For Paul, this unity is paradise, but as they grow up Jean rebels against it. He takes a mistress and deserts his brother, but Paul sets out to follow him in a pilgrimage that leads all around the world, through places that reflect their separation-the mirrored halls of Venice, the Zen gardens of Japan, the newly divided city of Berlin. The exquisite love story of Jean-Paul is set against the ugliness and pain of human existence. Gemini is a novel of extraordinary proportions, intricate images, and profound thought, in which Michel Tournier tells his fascinating story with an irresistible humor.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780801857768
ISBN-10: 0801857767
Format: Paperback
(216mm x 140mm x 25mm)
Pages: 452
Imprint: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date: 1-Dec-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - Gemini by Michel Tournier

US Kirkus Review » Much respected in France, Tournier is the sort of writer who never lets you forget the thematic structure of his densely philosophical writing - and the Theme here is "geminate intuition": the state of pairing, of "oviform loving" that only twins are naturally heir to. . . and to a simulacrum of which ("extended soul") homosexuality, according to the thesis, seriously aspires. Tournier's twins are Paul and Jean Surin, growing up in the Brittany village of Pierres Sonnantes before World War II. An uncle, Alexandre, provides them with some coaching on how to live a life based on contradictions: a homosexual aesthete, he's also a garbage magnate, a king of refuse, of the discarded. His perverse celebration of trash takes on a glow of genius thanks to his sexual inversion - and thus the twins have a family model of a working dialectic. What story there is, thereafter, is minimal. Jean, looking for "intoxication through emancipation," briefly takes a fiancee (which devastates the still geminately-faithful Paul), then discards her and keeps one step ahead of his brother on a world-hop to Venice, then Iceland, Japan, Canada, and finally Berlin (its East/West twin nature is underlined, of course). At each port of call, Tournier unrolls serious philosophical essays on place - and they're as intelligent as his discussion of the peculiar and documented psychology of twinship. But, despite a final attempt to bring everything together ("It is important to keep this worldwide dimension. . . restore it to the regularity and secrecy of our childhood hopscotch. After cosmopolitan, it must become cosmic"), the book is really a series of knots throughout, themes overwhelming scenes. With one exception: a spectacularly imaginative (and skin-crawling) chapter set in the St.-Escobille dumps outside Marseilles during World War II, as Uncle Alexandre lives in a railroad car among white hills of garbage ruled by thousands of rats and gulls at war with each other. Aside from this billiant set-piece, however, the impressiveness here - the keen intentions and Gallic thoughtfulness - is largely bloodless, with far more appeal to psychology/philosophy enthusiasts than readers of fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Michel Tournier

Born in 1924, Michel Tournier studied philosophy and then became a journalist and a writer. He is the author of several novels, including The Ogre, Friday, and Gemini, also available in paperback from Johns Hopkins.

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