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Institut FranÃ§ais Ãcosse
- Fear And Trembling (Stupeur Et Tremblements) | Reviews | Screen?
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But even when she goes about it correctly, as when she assumes the harmless job of moving the little square that shows what day it is on all the wall-calendars, she manages to draw too much attention to herself. Punishment is swift and severe: in this instance she is assigned the Sisyphean task of photocopying a thousand page document for Mr.
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Saito, one of her main antagonists. Putting it in the automatic feed won't do -- Saito tosses aside the first set of copies, complaining that the copies are slightly off-center -- she has to make copies one by one. Needless to say even then the results don't please Saito, who has her repeat the exercise again and again. A ray of hope comes when another worker asks for her assistance.
Tenshi a name, significant like all the names in the book, that, the author reminds us, means "angel" in Japanese needs her help in finding out as much about a Belgian butter substitute as possible. Instead of success, however, she meets with more disgrace.
Stupeur et tremblements (English and French Edition)
Even though she has done something useful for the company, by not doing it in the traditional manner she has caused more harm than good. Not least to herself. The Belgian sinks lower and lower, until she literally gets the lowliest position possible.
Her gaffes are not only cultural -- she is not good with numbers, and is unfamiliar with the German abbreviation for "incorporated", ignorance which makes for other minor catastrophes -- but mainly it is the clash of cultures that is central to the book. Support and solidarity comes from unlikely sources, as do flashes of enmity. This is a novel of corporate Japan, representative of Japan at large and yet not a true mirror.
Nothomb acknowledges as much; her gazes from the window of the skyscraper housing the firm and her thoughts of jumping hint at a larger picture beyond. But Nothomb is as concerned with human relationships and dynamics, and these she conveys well.
There is some exaggeration in these characters, and some simplification, but it almost never comes across as mere caricature. Nothomb writes fairly sparely, making for a short book. There are many amusing episodes and conversations, and there is also always the suggestion of more behind it.
The book does, cleverly, provoke thought, moving from antic beginnings to a poignant close. Nothomb has a fine light style and wry voice that makes her books easily digestible. An entertaining read, a somewhat different view of Japan as much about Nothomb herself as the country , it can certainly be recommended.