« http://www.antiaction.com est pris d’assaut. Beaucoup de compliments, qu’Arnold a d’abord trouvés
outranciers, mais on s’habitue vite. Ces enthousiasmes sont souvent signés d’un prénom féminin
accompagné d’une adresse e-mail, mais M Spitzweg s’est promis de ne pas répondre. Certaines
correspondantes comprennent cette attitude : “Ne perdez pas votre temps. Continuez seulement à
cueillir le meilleur des jours.” Cueillir le meilleur des jours pour des Stéphanie, des Valérie, des
Sophie ou des Leila, voilà qui n’est pas sans flatter l’ego d’Arnold, même s’il cueille davantage
encore pour des Huguette ou des Denise ». Arnold Spitzweg crée son blog : l’employé de bureau discret jusqu’à l’effacement cède à la modernité mais sans renier ses principes. Sur la toile, à contre-courant du discours ambiant, il fait l’éloge de la lenteur. Ses écrits intimes séduisent des milliers d’internautes…. Comment vivra-t-il cette subite notoriété ?
I have read a few novels by Philippe Delerm and especially Autumn, his historical novel on the life of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his muse Lizzie Siddal, is an absolute favourite of mine. As a matter of fact I liked it so much that I keep his second novel on the life of another famous painter (Carl Larsson), Sundborn, unread on my TBR pile. Unfortunately only one of his books, La première gorgée de bière aka The Small Pleasures of Life has been translated into English. It’s a series of impressions and descriptions of life’s little pleasures. I did like it but not as much as his other books, some of which are novels, others are a combination of little sketches and photos (Paris l’instant).
Quelque chose en lui de Bartleby tells the story of Arnold Spitzweg, an invisible little clerk who is working for La Poste in Paris. Originally from the Alsace region he still loves Paris as much as when he first arrived. He lives an uneventful life, dreams of a unlived love affair, has an occasional lover, but all in all he likes to be left alone and just watch life pass. When someone tells him about a new phenomenon called “blogging” his curiosity is piqued. After a few inquiries he immediately starts his own blog in which he notes in minute details all the little things he observes around him, explains his way of seeing life, of enjoying the simple things and staying outside of it all as a pure observer.
It doesn’t take long and his blog has the first comments. After a while there are more and more until he is a real celebrity, even mentioned on the radio. While at first he wrote exactly what he wanted to write, fame makes him self-conscious and he starts to censor himself. When he realises that he doesn’t write for his pure pleasure anymore, he simply stops blogging.
Quelque chose en lui de Bartleby takes place during one hot summer in Paris. While everyone is gone on holidays, Mr Spitzweg, walks all over Paris, discovers and rediscovers streets, places and little corners and enjoys the city to the fullest. Since I love and miss Paris, I enjoyed all these details. They are well captured. And the parts on blogging are really interesting. From the start Spitzweg doesn’t answer comments or only rarely. He wants to be read but he doesn’t want to get in contact with his readers. I have noticed that there are quite a few bloggers like that out there. I often wonder what is in it for them. The reasons for blogging are probably as numerous as the bloggers who write the blogs. On the other hand I know from my own experience that a blog that gets many comments doesn’t necessarily have many readers, and you may have numerous readers but hardly any comments. I know that I wouldn’t want too many comments as I want to respond to each and every one. The more, the harder. It’s as simple as that. I’m not a crowd person and the people I call “friends” are well-chosen. The same goes for my blog, I suppose. I “know” those who leave comments on my blog. It’s not a crowd of strangers that I cannot place.
I could really understand Mr Spitzweg when he started to feel self-conscious. It did happen to me a few times. Fortunately I got rid of it but occasionally (on my German blog) I have thoughts like “Who is going to want to read this?” or “Oh my, what are they going to think?”.
And what about Bartleby? In the novel Arnold Spitzweg thinks that we are all a little bit like Bartleby and since he emphasized this so much I thought I need to read Melville’s novella. The review will follow tomorrow.
I’m not sure whether what I wrote made it obvious or not but I really liked this little novel. It isn’t one of his best but it contains everything I like in Delerm and I liked his character Spitzweg a lot. He is a very gentle and atypical man who gets picked on quite a lot. Especially by other men. There is also a little bit of gender discussion hidden underneath it all.
Delerm’s novel is not the first blogging novel I saw. I think Joanne Harris has written one and I vaguely remember another one. Has anyone read a novel about blogging?