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The Nobel Prize in Literature 2008
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

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Biobibliographical Notes

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was born on April 13, 1940, in Nice, but both parents had strong family connections with the former French colony, Mauritius (conquered by the British in 1810). At the age of eight, Le Clézio and his family moved to Nigeria, where the father had been stationed as a doctor during the Second World War. During the month-long voyage to Nigeria, he began his literary career with two books, Un long voyage and Oradi noir, which even contained a list of "forthcoming books." He grew up with two languages, French and English. In 1950 the family returned to Nice. After completing his secondary education, he studied English at Bristol University in 1958-59 and completed his undergraduate degree in Nice (Institut d'Études Littéraires) in 1963. He took a master's degree at the University of Aix-en-Provence in 1964 and wrote a doctoral thesis on Mexico's early history at the University of Perpignan in 1983. He has taught at universities in Bangkok, Mexico City, Boston, Austin and Albuquerque among other places.

Le Clézio received much attention with his first novel, Le procès-verbal (1963; The Interrogation, 1964). As a young writer in the aftermath of existentialism and the nouveau roman, he was a conjurer who tried to lift words above the degenerate state of everyday speech and to restore to them the power to invoke an essential reality. His debut novel was the first in a series of descriptions of crisis, which includes the short story collection La fièvre (1965; Fever, 1966) and Le déluge (1966; The Flood, 1967), in which he points out the trouble and fear reigning in the major Western cities.

Even early on Le Clézio stood out as an ecologically engaged author, an orientation that is accentuated with the novels Terra amata (1967; Terra Amata, 1969), Le livre des fuites (1969; The Book of Flights, 1971), La guerre (1970; War, 1973) and Les géants (1973; The Giants, 1975). His definitive breakthrough as a novelist came with Désert (1980), for which he received a prize from the French Academy. This work contains magnificent images of a lost culture in the North African desert, contrasted with a depiction of Europe seen through the eyes of unwanted immigrants. The main character, the Algerian guest worker Lalla, is a utopian antithesis to the ugliness and brutality of European society.

During the same period, Le Clézio published the meditative essay collections L'extase matérielle (1967), Mydriase (1973) and Haï (1971), the last of which shows influences from Indian culture. Long stays in Mexico and Central America in the period 1970 to 1974 were of decisive significance for his work, and he left the big cites in search of a new spiritual reality in the contact with the Indians. He met the Moroccan Jemia, who became his wife in 1975, the same year Voyage de l'autre côté was published, a book in which he gives an account of what he learned in Central America. Le Clézio began the translation of the major works of the Indian tradition, such as Les prophéties du Chilam Balam. Le rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue (1988) testifies to his fascination with Mexico's magnificent past. Since the 90s Le Clézio and his wife share their time between Albuquerque in New Mexico, the island of Mauritius and Nice.

Le chercheur d'or (1985; The Prospector, 1993) treats material from the islands of the Indian Ocean in the spirit of the adventure story. In later years the author's attraction to the dream of earthly paradise is apparent in books such as Ourania (2005) and Raga: approche du continent invisible (2006). The latter is devoted to documenting a way of life on the islands of the Indian Ocean that is disappearing with the advance of globalization. The former is set in a remote valley in Mexico, where the main character, the author's alter ego, finds a colony of seekers who have regained the harmony of the golden age and laid aside civilization's ruined customs, including its languages.

The emphasis in Le Clézio's work has increasingly moved in the direction of an exploration of the world of childhood and of his own family history. This development began with Onitsha (1991; Onitsha, 1997), continued more explicitly with La quarantaine (1995) and has culminated in Révolutions (2003) and L'Africain (2004). Révolutions sums up the most important themes of his work: memory, exile, the reorientations of youth, cultural conflict. Episodes from various times and places are juxtaposed: the main character's student years during the 1950s and 60s in Nice, London and Mexico; the experiences of an ancestor from Brittany as a soldier in the army of the revolution in 1792-94 and his emigration to Mauritius to escape the repression of revolutionary society; and the story of a female slave from the beginning of the 1800s. Embedded among the childhood memories is the story of the main character's visit to his grandfather's sister, the last mediator of family tradition from the lost estate on Mauritius, who passes on the memories that he as author will carry into the future.

L'Africain, the story of the author's father, is at once a reconstruction, a vindication, and the recollection of a boy who lived in the shadow of a stranger he was obliged to love. He remembers through the landscape: Africa tells him who he was when, at the age of eight, he experienced the family's reunion after the separation during the war years.

Among Le Clézio's most recent works are Ballaciner (2007), a deeply personal essay about the history of the art of film and the importance of film in the author's life, from the hand-turned projectors of his childhood, the cult of cinéaste trends in his teens, to his adult forays into the art of film as developed in unfamiliar parts of the world. A new work, Ritournelle de la faim, has just been published.

Le Clézio has also written several books for children and youth, for example Lullaby (1980), Celui qui n'avait jamais vu la mer suivi de La montagne du dieu vivant (1982) and Balaabilou (1985).

Literary Prizes: Prix Théophraste Renaudot (1963), Prix Larbaud (1972), Grand Prix Paul Morand de l'Académie française (1980), Grand Prix Jean Giono (1997), Prix Prince de Monaco (1998), Stig Dagermanpriset (2008)

Works in French
Le procès-verbal. – Paris : Gallimard, 1963
Le jour où Beaumont fit connaissance avec sa douleur. – Paris : Mercure de France, 1964
La fièvre. – Paris : Gallimard, 1965
Le déluge : roman. – Paris : Gallimard, 1966
L'extase matérielle . – Paris : Gallimard, 1967
Terra amata. – Paris : Gallimard, 1967
Le livre des fuites : roman d'aventures. – Paris : Gallimard, 1969
La guerre. – Paris : Gallimard, 1970
Haï. – Genève : Skira, 1971
Mydriase. – Montpellier : Fata Morgana, 1973
Les géants. – Paris : Gallimard, 1973
Voyages de l'autre côté. – Paris : Gallimard, 1975
L'inconnu sur la terre. – Paris : Gallimard, 1978
Vers les icebergs. – Montpellier : Fata Morgana, 1978
Voyage au pays des arbres. – Paris: Gallimard, 1978
Mondo et autres histoires. – Paris : Gallimard, 1978
Désert. – Paris : Gallimard, 1980
Trois villes saintes. – Paris : Gallimard, 1980
Lullaby. – Paris : Gallimard, 1980
La ronde et autres faits divers. – Paris : Gallimard, 1982
Celui qui n'avait jamais vu la mer ; suivi de La montagne du dieu vivant. – Paris : Gallimard, 1982
Balaabilou. – Paris : Gallimard, 1985
Le chercheur d'or. – Paris : Gallimard, 1985
Villa Aurore ; suivi de Orlamonde. – Paris : Gallimard, 1985
Voyage à Rodrigues. – Paris : Gallimard, 1986
Le rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue. – Paris : Gallimard, 1988
Printemps et autres saisons. – Paris : Gallimard, 1989
La grande vie ; suivi de Peuple du ciel. – Paris : Gallimard, 1990
Onitsha. – Paris : Gallimard, 1991
Étoile errante. – Paris : Gallimard, 1992
Pawana. – Paris : Gallimard, 1992
Diego et Frida. – Paris : Stock, 1993
La quarantaine. – Paris : Gallimard, 1995
Poisson d'or. – Paris : Gallimard, 1996
La fête chantée. – Paris : Le Promeneur, 1997
Hasard ; suivi de Angoli Mala. – Paris : Gallimard, 1999
Coeur brûlé et autres romances. – Paris : Gallimard, 2000
Révolutions. – Paris : Gallimard, 2003
L'Africain. – Paris : Mercure de France, 2004
Ourania . – Paris : Gallimard, 2006
Raga : approche du continent invisible. – Paris : Seuil, 2006
Ballaciner. – Paris : Gallimard, 2007
Ritournelle de la faim. – Paris : Gallimard, 2008
Works in English
The Interrogation / translated from the French by Daphne Woodward. – New York : Atheneum, 1964. – Translation of Le procès-verbal
Fever / translated from the French by Daphne Woodward. – New York : Atheneum, 1966. – Translation of La fièvre
The Flood / translated from the French by Peter Green. – London : H. Hamilton, 1967. – Translation of Le déluge
Terra Amata / translated from the French by Barbara Bray. – London : Hamilton, 1969 ; New York : Atheneum, 1969. – Translation of Terra amata
The Book of Flights : an Adventure Story / translated from the French by Simon Watson Taylor. – London : Cape, 1971 ; New York : Atheneum, 1972. – Translation of Le livre des fuites
War / translated from the French by Simon Watson Taylor. – London : Cape, 1973 ; New York : Atheneum, 1973. – Translation of La guerre
The Giants / translated from the French by Simon Watson Taylor. – London : Cape, 1975 ; New York : Atheneum, 1975. – Translation of Les géants
The Mexican Dream, or, The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilizations / translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. – Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1993. – Translation of Le rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue
The Prospector / translated from the French by Carol Marks. – Boston : David R. Godine, 1993. – Translation of Le chercheur d'or
Onitsha / translated by Alison Anderson. – Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1997. – Translation of Onitsha
The Round & Other Cold Hard Facts = La ronde et autres faits divers / translated by C. Dickson. – Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2002. – Translation of La ronde et autres faits divers
Wandering Star : a Novel / translated by C. Dickson. – Willimantic, CT : Curbstone Press, 2004. – Translation of Étoile errante
Works in Swedish
Rapport om Adam / [till svenska av Aslög Davidson]. – Stockholm : Geber, 1964. – Ny utg. 1968. – Orig:s titel: Le procès-verbal
Febern / till svenska av C.G. Bjurström. – Stockholm : Geber, 1966. – Orig:s titel: La fièvre
Syndafloden / till svenska av C.G. Bjurström. – Stockholm : Geber, 1968. – Orig:s titel: Le déluge
Terra amata : roman / till svenska av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : Geber, 1969. – Orig:s titel: Terra amata
Jordisk extas : [essäer] / till svenska av Eva Alexanderson. – Stockholm : Geber, 1969. – Orig:s titel: L'extase matérielle.
Flykternas bok : äventyrsroman / till svenska av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : Geber, 1970. – Orig:s titel: Le livre des fuites
Kriget : roman / till svenska av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : AWE/Geber, 1974. – Orig:s titel: La guerre
Färder i andra riken / övers. av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : AWE/Geber, 1979. – Orig:s titel: Voyages de l'autre côté
Mondo och andra berättelser / till svenska av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : AWE/Geber, 1981. – Orig:s titel: Mondo et autres histoires
Öken / till svenska av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : AWE/Geber, 1984. – Orig:s titel: Désert
Skattsökaren / översättning av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : AWE/Geber, 1990. – Orig:s titel: Le chercheur d'or
Vandrande stjärna / översättning: Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : Norstedt, 1995. – Orig:s titel: Étoile errante
Afrikanen / översättning av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : Grate, 2005. – Orig:s titel: L'Africain
Allt är vind / översättning av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : Grate, 2007. – Orig:s titel: Révolutions
Raga : att nalkas den osynliga kontinenten / översättning av Ulla Bruncrona. – Stockholm : Grate, 2008. – Orig:s titel: Raga : approche du continent invisible
Works in German
Das Protokoll : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – München : Piper, 1965. – Originaltitel: Le procès-verbal
Die Sintflut : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – München : Piper, 1968. – Originaltitel: Le déluge
Terra amata : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – München : Piper, 1970. – Originaltitel: Terra amata
Das Fieber : Erzählungen / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – München : Piper, 1971. – Originaltitel: La fièvre
Der Krieg : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – Frankfurt (am Main) : S. Fischer, 1972. – Originaltitel: La guerre
Der Goldsucher : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – Köln : Kiepenheuer u. Witsch, 1987. – Originaltitel: Le chercheur d'or
Mondo : Erzählungen / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – München : List, 1988. – Originaltitel: Mondo et autres histoires
Der mexikanische Traum / Aus dem Französischen von Rolf und Hedda Soellner. – München : List, 1989. – Originaltitel: Le rêve mexicain ou la pensée interrompue
Wüste : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – Köln : Kiepenheuer u. Witsch, 1989. – Originaltitel: Désert
Onitsha : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – Köln : Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 1993. – Originaltitel: Onitsha
Diego und Frida / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – München : Hanser, 1995. – Originaltitel: Diego et Frida
Fliehender Stern : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – Köln : Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 1996. – Originaltitel: Étoile errante
Ein Ort fernab der Welt : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – Köln : Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2000. – Originaltitel: La quarantaine
Fisch aus Gold : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – Köln : Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2003. – Originaltitel: Poisson d'or
Revolutionen : Roman / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – Köln : Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2006. – Originaltitel: Révolutions
Der Afrikaner / Aus dem Französischen von Uli Wittmann. – München : Hanser, 2007. – Originaltitel: L'Africain
Selected Criticism
Lhoste, Pierre, Conversations avec J.M.G. Le Clézio. – Paris : Mercure de France, 1971
Brée, Germaine, Le monde fabuleux de J.M.G. Le Clézio. – Amsterdam : Rodopi, 1990
J.M.G. Le Clézio / textes réunis par Gabrielle Althen. – Marseille : Sud, 1990
Onimus, Jean, Pour lire Le Clézio. – Paris : PUF, 1994
Cortanze, Gérard de, J.M.G. Le Clézio : le nomade immobile. – Paris : Éd. du Chêne, 1999
Chung, Ook, Le Clézio : une écriture prophétique. – Paris : Imago, 2001
Jollin-Bertocchi, Sophie, J.M.G. Le Clézio : l'érotisme, les mots. – Paris : Kimé, 2001
Rimpau, Laetitia, Reisen zum Ursprung : das Mauritius-Projekt von Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. – Tübingen : Niemeyer, 2002
Jarlsbo, Jeana, Écriture et altérité dans trois romans de J.M.G. Le Clézio : Désert, Onitsha et La quarantaine. – Lund : Romanska institutionen, Univ., 2003
Lectures d'une oeuvre J.-M.G. Le Clézio / collectif coordonné par Sophie Jollin-Bertocchi et Bruno Thibault ... – Nantes : Du Temps, 2004
Kastberg Sjöblom, Margareta, L'écriture de J.M.G. Le Clézio : des mots aux thèmes. – Paris : Honoré Champion, 2006
Salles, Marina, Le Clézio : notre contemporain. – Rennes : Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2006
Suzuki, Masao, J-MG Le Clézio : évolution spirituelle et littéraire : par-delà l'Occident moderne. – Paris : L'Harmattan, 2007
 

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MLA style: "The Nobel Prize in Literature 2008 - Bio-bibliography". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 21 Apr 2014. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2008/bio-bibl.html>

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