Limentinus’s Workbooks. Readings of the End of the Century

Essays on contemporary French literature (Montreal, XYZ Editeur, 1998, 351p.)

Limentinus is a symbolic name that comes from a modest Roman god who would guard doors, thresholds and entrances. In this book, Brulotte is acting as a modern Limentinus who simply opens doors to the readers and introduces them to the world of some fifty contemporary French authors who have been important in the literary field during the last quarter of the 20th century. It goes from Bobin and Bruckner to Sollers and Yourcenar. These fifty contemporary authors look at the world from a distance and from their French vantage point. At a time when our civilization is taking a new turn with the technologies that are currently transforming our daily life, we need to read literature and philosophy more than ever before to better understand the world we are living in. The French authors included in this book can help doing just that. They prove in their own way that literature is at the basis of our civilization. Brulotte makes a point of presenting these literary works in the tradition of Nietzsche’s “gai savoir” (the joy of learning) so that literature can be appealing to a great variety of readers. Such a panorama could be helpful not only to students, teachers and scholars in the field, but also to the general readership.

Reviews' excerpts

"I have always read Gaetan Brulotte slowly and with some meticulousness, which means with the maximum attention, because his prose goes right to the essence of ideas and things; further it is very mobile and one must follow it closely in order to make sure one does not lose anything. Hence, its authority. It reminds me those perfect critical essays that, at my young age, Robert Kemp, André Rousseau, Jean Cassou and others of the same caliber would sign in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, Candide, and Gringoire. What fireworks, which are still lasting in the mind of those who saw them, appear!
Nobody writes more substantial essays and with such a brisk style than Brulotte. What Gaetan Brulotte is offering to us with Limentinus’s Workbooks is there to stay. He succeeded in grasping the dominating aspects of a great century characterized by its extreme intellectual mobility, and pulling from it, for his reader, the lively synthesis of the French spirit." Clément Marchand, The Quebec Academy of Letters and the Royal Society of Canada..

"The great merit of this book is to pay a tribute to the abundance of thinking and creative writing in France throughout the century." Montreal, Ici, Dec.31th , 1998-Jan. 7, 1999.

"I insist in saying again all the pleasure I had in reading these Limentinus’s Workbooks (…) Gaetan Brulotte’s readings will satisfy all those who feed themselves on literature. (…) Subtlety of the observation, (…) beauty of the style (…) confidence of the utterance (…) undeniable talent to locate the heart of a work (…) the pleasure of opening doors will never fail." Louis Cornellier, Montreal, Le Devoir, Jan. 9-10, 1999.

"Amorous approach of literature… subtly witnessesthe spirit of our time." Nicole Bajulaz-Fessler, Paris, Encres vagabondes 16, March 1999, p. 57.

"Great critical acumen (…) more than just simple commentaries, these essays get to grasp, through the 20th century writers, the very essence of literature and its role in current society." Francine Bordeleau, Montreal, Lettres québécoises 94, été 1999, p. 49.

"A precious tool for any reader who is curious about the literary, critical and philosophical production of this end of the century (…) stimulating and clarifying commentaries (…) interesting and smart essays all written with fineness. They remind us that there is a close link between knowledge and reflection (…) Readings that reveal a love for books and the passion of knowledge." Janet M. Paterson, University of Toronto Quarterly 69.1 (Winter 1999-2000) : 431-432

"What erudition! (...) This book on books is simply delightful." Lise Lachance, Québec City, Le Soleil, Jan. 31st 1999.