Cover image for Arsène Schrauwen
Title:
Arsène Schrauwen
Author:
Schrauwen, Olivier.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Seattle, Washington : Fantagraphics Books, [2014]

©2014
Physical Description:
257 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 29 cm
Summary:
"In 1947, the author's grandfather, Arsene, traveled across the ocean to a mysterious, dangerous jungle colony at the behest of his cousin. Together they would build something deemed impossible: a utopia of modernity, in the wilderness -- but not before Arsene falls in love with his cousin's wife, Marieke. Whether delirious from love or a fever-inducing jungle virus, Arsene's loosening grip on reality is mirrored by the reader's uncertainty of what is imagined or real by Arsene"--
General Note:
"This story was first published as a three part series by the author himself"--Preliminary page.

"The translation and production of this book are funded by the Flemish Literature Fund (Vlaams Fonds boor de Letteren)"--End pages.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781606997307
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In 1947, the author's grandfather, Arsene, travelled across the ocean to a mysterious, dangerous jungle colony at the behest of his cousin. Together they would build something deemed impossible: a utopia of modernity, in the wilderness - but not before Arsene falls in love with his cousin's wife, Marieke. Whether delirious from love or a fever-inducing jungle virus, Arsene's loosening grip on reality is mirrored by the reader's uncertainty of what is imagined or real by Arsene.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In his first book-length work, Belgian cartoonist Schrauwen fancifully imagines the 1947 voyage of his grandfather Arsène to the colony to aid his cousin in his quest to construct a modernist city of the future in the dense jungle. The thickheaded and thickwaisted Arsène immediately finds himself over his head, unable to cope with his cousin's maniacal bravado or the enormity of the project and his responsibility commanding its crew. An eerie jungle virus and his infatuation with his cousin's wife put the already unsteady Arsène on the edge of delirium. Schrauwen's graphic approach mirrors this disequilibrium as the characters and settings wordlessly morph to reflect Arsène's emotional state. His delicate line drawings are reproduced in a two-color process that duplicates the work's original self-published, risograph-printed appearance. Arsène's improbable trek through the jungle to achieve a mad dream recalls Fitzcarraldo, and the story's unsettling depiction of the madness underpinning European colonization evokes Conrad, but this is a stunningly unique work. Formally dazzling yet narratively and emotionally engaging, it emphatically marks Schrauwen's arrival among comics' most audacious and important creators.--Flagg, Gordon Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In this crackpot graphic novel from the historically minded and utterly original Schrauwen, the Belgian cartoonist imagines a fanciful history that slips the bonds of reality almost immediately. In 1947, Schrauwen's grandfather Arsène boards a boat for "the colony," a tropical jungle whose European settlers wrestle with dementia and a skewed, Cubist reality. His purpose there is never quite made clear, but Arsène plugs away through a series of surreal encounters that volley between the dangerous and the sensual. Arsène is initially a stereotypical bourgeois with an eternally lit cigarette and a taste for Trappist beer, but his veneer is undone by the colony's fears (horrific parasites) and his own temptations (his cousin's luscious wife, Marieke). Schrauwen's simple and slightly awkward early 20th-century drawing style, rendered only in blue on some pages and red on others, gives the story's more outré elements (sexually rapacious leopard-human hybrids) a deadpan humor. The author's obsessions with infestation, death, mutation, and genitalia, scroll in a continuous waking dream set amid a Magritte-Dali landscape. Schrauwen's absurdist satire of colonial mores is probably best read according to the author's instructions: every now and then, with breaks in reading for a week or two-the story may be recursive, but this way the dream will always seem fresh. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


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