The right main for the job

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
It comes sanctified by France's leading linguistic theorists, but your mother won't like it. Exactly 26 years after it was written, the novel Eden Eden Eden is finally crossing the Channel together with its accursed progenitor, Pierre Guyotat. It's been a long, hard wait. The book was banned for 11 years by the French Ministry of the Interior as pornographic, its author denounced and praised in equal measure as the new Marquis de Sade/Jean Genet/Antonin Artaud (tick as appropriate). But it's not so much what Guyotat writes about (perpetual, feral sexual acts in the Algerian desert during a period of civil war) as the way he writes, that has attracted outrage. Always a terrible enfant, he masturbates as he pens, coating his manuscripts in a cocktail of ink, semen, dirt and blood. Calling him another pretentious French wanker will get you nowhere, because he sweeps the critical carpet from underneath your feet. His prostitution is his art, his book is intended to stink. More importantly, as Roland Barthes, oozing praise, points out: "Criticism, unable to discuss the author, his subject, or his style, can find no way of taking hold of this text" - it's not "the adventure of some hero, but the adventure of the signifier itself". Don't just take his word for it, though. The manuscripts are going on display and the man himself will no doubt be only too happy to give you a taste of his work.

`Eden Eden Eden', (Creation Press) published 27 Apr £7.95; reading: The Cabinet Gallery, 148 Charing Cross Road, 7.30pm, 26 Apr; Month-long exhibition 0171-274 4252; ICA debate 27 Apr 0171-930 3647, plus signings at Freedom Caf, Wardour St, Soho, Apr 26 2.30pm