Tony Duvert

Tony Duvert (1945–2008) is the author of fourteen books of fiction and nonfiction. His fifth novel, Strange Landscape, won the prestigious Prix Médicis in 1973. Other books translated into English include the novels When Jonathan Died and Diary of an Innocent as well as the essay Good Sex Illustrated, the last two both available from Semiotext(e).

  • Atlantic Island

    Atlantic Island

    Tony Duvert

    A forgotten gem of French literature, Duvert's version of The Lord of the Flies: an indictment against the violence embedded in a middle-class community.

    Tony Duvert's novel Atlantic Island (originally published in French in 1979) takes place in the soul-crushing suburbs of a remote island off the coast of France. It is told through the shifting perspectives of a group of pubescent and prepubescent boys, ages seven to fourteen, who gather together at night in secret to carry out a series of burglaries throughout their neighborhood. The boys vandalize living rooms and kitchens and make off with, for the most part, petty objects of no value. Their exploits leave the adult community perplexed and outraged, especially when a death occurs and the stakes grow more serious.

    Duvert's portrayal of adult life on this Atlantic Island is savage to the point of satire, but the boys and their thieving and sexuality are explored with sympathy. A novel on the loneliness of childhood and the solitude induced by geographical space, it is also an empathetic and generous homage to youth, a crime novel without suspense, and an unsettling fairytale for adults.

    Atlantic Island today is a forgotten gem of French literature: Duvert's own version of The Lord of the Flies, it is attentive to details and precise in its depiction of French mores and language. An indictment against the violence embedded in a middle-class community, it is also a love letter to childhood, incorporating the heroic vistas in which a child needs only a fertile imagination to become the secret hero of his or her own life.

    • Paperback $17.95 £14.99
  • Diary of an Innocent

    Diary of an Innocent

    Tony Duvert

    Now in English, Duvert's shocking novel about a sexual adventurer among a tribe of adolescent boys in Northern Africa.

    "I'd find it amusing if, in a few centuries, the only thing that our descendents condescend to retain of our artistic production, the only thing in which they'll see worlds to admire, to penetrate, the only thing that they'll show off as precious in immense museums after having flushed down the toilet all our acknowledged masterpieces, the only thing that will give them nostalgia and love for us will be our porn."—from Diary of an Innocent

    Exiled from the prestigious French literary circles that had adored him in the 1970s, novelist Tony Duvert's life ended in anonymity. In 2008, nineteen years after his last book was published, Duvert's lifeless body was discovered in the small village of Thoré-la-Rochette, where he had been living a life of total seclusion.

    Now for the first time, Duvert's most highly crafted novel is available in English. Poetic, brutally frank, and outright shocking, Diary of an Innocent recounts the risky experiences of a sexual adventurer among a tribe of adolescent boys in an imaginary setting that suggests North Africa. More reverie than narrative, Duvert's Diary presents a cascading series of portraits of the narrator's adolescent sexual partners and their culture, and ends with a fanciful yet rigorous construction of a reverse world in which marginal sexualities have become the norm.

    Written with gusto and infused with a luminous bitterness, this novel is more unsettling to readers today than it was to its first audience when published in French in 1976. In his openly declared war on society, Duvert presents a worldview that offers no easy moral code and no false narrative solution of redemption. And yet no reader will remain untouched by the book's dazzling language, stinging wit, devotion to matters of the heart, and terse condemnation of today's society.

    • Paperback $17.95 £14.99
  • Good Sex Illustrated

    Good Sex Illustrated

    Tony Duvert

    A scathing view of sex manuals for children and society's hypocrisy of over sex that argues for the rights of children to their own bodies and their own sexuality.

    Why is pleasure "doubled" when it's "shared"?... Do you really have to cut pleasure in two so that it'll exist? I mean, if it's doubled when there are two of you, then it must be tripled when there are three, quadrupled when there are four, centupled when there are a hundred, right? Is it O.K. for a hundred to share? And if I get used to trying it all alone, why is it that I'll never love anyone again? Is it that good alone and that awful with others? ; from Good Sex Illustrated First published in France in 1973, Good Sex Illustrated gleefully deciphers the subtext of a popular sex education manual for children produced during that period. In so doing, Duvert mounts a scabrous and scathing critique of how deftly the "sex-positive" ethos was harnessed to promote the ideal of the nuclear family. Like Michel Houllebecq, Duvert is highly attuned to all the hypocrisies of late twentieth century western "sexual liberation" mass movements. As Bruce Benderson notes in his introduction, Good Sex Illustrated shows that, "in our sexual order, orgasm follows the patterns of any other kind of capital... 'good sex' is a voracious profit machine." But unlike Houllebecq, Duvert writes from a passionate belief in the integrity of unpoliced sex and of pleasure. Even more controversially now than when the book was first published, Duvert asserts the child's right to his or her own playful, unproductive sexuality. Bruce Benderson's translation will belatedly introduce English-speaking audiences to the most infamous gay French writer since Jean Gênet.

    • Paperback $16.95 £13.99

Contributor

  • Polysexuality

    Polysexuality

    François Peraldi

    Mixing documents, interviews, fiction, theory, poetry, psychiatry and anthropology, "Polysexuality" became the encyclopedia sexualis of a continent that is still emerging.

    Originally conceived as a special Semiotext(e) issue on homosexuality at the end of the 70s, “Polysexuality" quickly evolved into a more complex and iconoclastic project whose intent was to do away with recognized genders altogether, considered far too limitative. The project landed somewhere between humor, anarchy, science-fiction, utopia and apocalypse. In the few years that it took to put it together, it also evolved from a joyous schizo concept to a darker, neo-Lacanian elaboration on the impossibility of sexuality. The tension between the two, occasionally perceptible, is the theoretical subtext of the issue. Upping the ante on gender distinctions, "Polysexuality" started by blowing wide open all sexual classifications, inventing unheard-of categories, regrouping singular features into often original configurations, like Corporate Sex, Alimentary Sex, Soft or Violent Sex, Discursive Sex, Self- Sex, Animal Sex, Child Sex, Morbid Sex, or Sex of the Gaze. Mixing documents, interviews, fiction, theory, poetry, psychiatry and anthropology, "Polysexuality" became the encyclopedia sexualis of a continent that is still emerging. What it displayed in all its forms could be called, broadly speaking, the Sexuality of Capital. (Actually the issue being rather hot, it was decided to cool it off somewhat by only using “capitals” throughout the issue. It was also the first issue for which we used the computer). The "Polysexuality" issue was attacked in Congress for its alleged advocation of animal sex. Includes work by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Félix Guattari, Paul Verlaine, William S. Burroughs, Georges Bataille, Pierre Klossowski, Roland Barthes, Paul Virilio, Peter Lamborn Wilson, and more.

    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99