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By Eugène Nicole

Neuf mois en Alaska, trois saisons, le temps d'une gestation et d'une transfiguration : c'est le remède choisi par le narrateur pour oublier l. a. femme qui vient de le quitter. Mais à l'université de Fairbanks, réputée pour son département de sismologie et ses études des langues athabaskanes, son séjour se transforme en une aventure aux multiples facettes où se croisent de jeunes marginaux, des universitaires extravagants et les dernières survivantes du peuple eyak.
Biographie de l'auteur
Eugène Nicole est né à Saint-Pierre (Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon), où il a passé toute son enfance. Après des études en France, à los angeles Sorbonne et à l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris, puis un séjour en Alaska, il entame une carrière universitaire aux Etats-Unis. Depuis 1989, il est professeur de littérature française à l'université de long island.
Avec L'Œuvre des mers, paru aux versions de l'Olivier en 2004, ce spécialiste de Proust réconciliait deux traditions littéraires : los angeles prise en cost du monde et l'invention de soi. Alaska affirme son sens du burlesque et son goût de los angeles mise en scène : ce roman est aussi une brillante comédie. 

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Although the overt situation of the story is almost a pastiche of Ernest Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," Ballard's story is closer in spirit to Arthur Rimbaud's famous dictum about becoming a seer by means of a systematic derangement of the senses. In this instance, the derangement of the senses of the protagonist, Charles Gifford, is occasioned by a fever stemming from an infected foot. Yet the fever and the infection are less the cause of Gifford's visions (or hallucinations, as his wife calls them) than are his own deep-rooted, unconscious need and desire for them.

Track 12"33 is an early treatment of the use of technology to serve base ends, in this case personal revenge. A similarly egotis- 36 Out of the Night and Into the Dream tical desire, that of ambition, motivates the character of Fowler in "The Man on the 99th Floor,"34 where a scientific technique is employed for purposes of murder. In "The Sound Sweep" and "Studio 5, the Stars"35 technology encroaches upon the arts. In the first story the human singing voice has been superseded by ultrasonic music; in the second the writing of poetry has been computerized, rendering all individual vision and voice obsolescent.

Neill, consistently denigrates and dismisses the unconscious, characterizing it as a "sump" and as "marshland" to be reclaimed by the conscious mind. He states that "The further we hold back the unconscious, the better" (146). The events of the story, however, suggest that the unconscious is primary and essential to our identity, that its power exceeds that of the conscious mind, and that all that serves to separate or to sunder us from the unconscious is pernicious. The unconscious is, in the chess metaphor of the story, enthroned in the psyche as "the black king" (165).

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