I’ve started reading Michel Tournier’s Gemini. It has a marvellous opening paragraph, with an amusing authorial cameo in it:
On the twenty-fifth of September 1937, a depression moving from Newfoundland to the Baltic sent masses of warm, moist oceanic air into the corridor of the English Channel. At 5:19PM a gust of wind from the west-southwest uncovered the petticoat of old Henriette Puysoux, who was picking up potatoes in her field; slapped the sun blind of the Café des Amis in Plancoët; banged a shutter on the house belonging to Dr. Bottereau alongside the wood of La Hunaudaie; turned over eight pages of Aristotle’s Meteorologica, which Michel Tournier was reading on the road to Plélan; blew wet spray in the face of Jean Chauvé as he was putting his boat out in the Bay of Arguenon; set the Pallet family’s underclothes bellying and dancing on the line where they were drying; started the wind pump racing at the Ferme des Mottes; and snatched a handful of gilded leaves off the silver birches in the garden of La Cassine.
If there’s one book that Gemini reminds me of, it’s C by Tom McCarthy (but don’t let that put you off). In fact, it reminds me of C just a little too much. It’s absolutely replete with symbolism. The French title, for instance, isn’t Gemini – or anything like it – but Les Météores – and, as evidenced by the quoted passage, there’s a lot in it about the weather. Not that twins can be discarded either: there’s plenty of things that can be divided in two. Thankfully, though, Tournier is a lot less heavy-handed in this than McCarthy. – Oh yes, and then it’s set in the countryside: two twins grow up in a house where their father runs a textile factory (rather than a silk factory), and also there’s a home for mentally handicapped children (rather than deaf children) where experiments are conducted about communication -for yes, communication seems to be another symbolic theme (he’s already mentioned Chomsky’s idea of a universal language, though he failed to signpost it properly).
Occasionally there are even paragraphs you feel McCarthy might have written, like this one describing a textile loom:
The old Jacquard was surmounted by a huge towering superstructure like a baldachin, housing the square cylinder on which the perforated cards were hung, the vertical hooks, each controlling one neck card, to which were fastened all those warp threads acting the same way, the horizontal needles that came into contact with the cards, and of course the axle and transmission wheels that worked it all.
But these don’t go on for ten pages.
I’m beginning to suspect that one of the twins may die young (although it’s clear actually another boy dies, to whom they are attached).
Of course, I imagine I’ll soon see less parallels, since after all, I didn’t get much further in C.