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the Complete Review
the complete review - essays

The Mirror of Ideas

Michel Tournier

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To purchase The Mirror of Ideas

Title: The Mirror of Ideas
Author: Michel Tournier
Genre: Novel
Written: 1994/6 (Eng.:1998)
Length: 123 pages
Original in: French
Availability: The Mirror of Ideas - US
. The Mirror of Ideas - UK
. The Mirror of Ideas - Canada
. Le Miroir des Idées - Canada
. Le Miroir des Idées - France
  • Translated by Jonathan F. Krell
  • French title: Le Miroir des Idées

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Our Assessment:

B- : short essays, hap and hazard, sometimes thoughtful, often not. A book to dip in, without great expectations.

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 6/9/1998 Thomas Frick
Rev. of Contemp. Fiction B+ Summer/1998 James Sallis
The San Fran. Chronicle B 19/4/1998 Kenneth Baker
South Atlantic Review A Spring/1998 William Cloonan
The Washington Post A 1/11/1998 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Tournier ever longs to entrap in the single event, in the single thought or word, both the elemental and cultured, historical and perverse, anarchic and fascistic. So it is with The Mirror of Ideas" - James Sallis, Review of Contemporary Fiction

  • "The Mirror of Ideas is hardly a skeleton key to Tournier's fiction or biography. Only occasionally do we guess that Tournier may be talking about himself." - Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

  • "This volume displays Tournier at his finest, which is to say his most outrageous. The style is as fluent as ever, but the content, depending upon whether one is a feminist, a philosopher, an atheist or a cat-lover, will either annoy, exasperate, provoke or amuse." - William Cloonan, South Atlantic Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Michel Tournier has written big books (The Ogre) and small ones (his retold Robinson, Friday). Here we are presented with 58 short essays, all barely over a page in length. Rather than mirrored ideas -- opposites -- Tournier places similar concepts side by side, emphasizing contrast and complement. The essays are about subjects as banal as Man and Woman or as unexpected as The Bath and the Shower, and include such topics as Talent and Genius and Pleasure and Joy. Jonathan Krell capably explains Tournier's dualism in his competent introduction. Tournier's ideas are often clever, and some of the essays are pleasant, thoughtful springboards. Most, however, seem too crudely pieced together, thoughts forced to fit his not always clear ideas. Krell's translation, rough around the edges, does not help.
       It is a fine book to leaf through, and there are enough interesting thoughts to keep one occupied -- and a few discoveries, as well. Nevertheless, good ideas are wasted and ultimately the book disappoints, constantly reminding the reader of what it might have been.

       Lightly recommended, but without great conviction.

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The Mirror of Ideas: Reviews: Michel Tournier: Other books by Michel Tournier under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       French author Michel Tournier lived 1924 to 2016.

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