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The work of Roger Lewinter is essentially a work of reflection on meaning, on units of meaning and the logical problems posed by their ordering in the sentence: each word, each sense, leading to a calling into question of the text as a whole. This sentence, which can be compared to a Kashmir shawl in its infinite interlacing, woven in one piece and from a single thread, raises, beyond the simple syntactic difficulties, logical problems of thought that no writing had up to now approached.

—Lorenzo Valentin

Roger Lewinter

Roger Lewinter was born in Montauban, France, in 1941, to Austrian Jewish parents. The family moved to Switzerland during the war, and he has lived much of his life in Geneva. For more than forty years he has worked as a writer (of both literary and scholarly works), an editor, and a translator (of Georg Groddeck, Karl Kraus, Elias Canetti, Robert Walser, and Rilke, among others). Among his dozen books are three works of fiction.


The Attraction of Things

Fiction by Roger Lewinter

translated by Rachel Careau

The Attraction of Things concerns the entirety of beauty and the possibility of grace, relayed via obsessions with rare early gramophone records, the theater, translation, dying parents: all these elements are relayed in a dizzying strange traffic of cultural artifacts, friendships, losses, discoveries, and love. Roger Lewinter believes that in the realm of art, “the distinction between life and death loses its relevance, the one taking place in the other.”

Whereas Story of Love in Solitude is a group of small stories, The Attraction of Things is a continuous narrative (more or less) of a man seeking (or stumbling upon) enlightenment.

The Attraction of Things,” states Lewinter, “is the story of a being who lets himself go toward what attracts him, toward what he attracts—beings, works, things—and who, through successive encounters, finds the way out of the labyrinth, to the heart, where the bolt of illumination strikes. This is the story of a letting go toward the illumination.”



Story of Love in Solitude

Fiction by Roger Lewinter

translated by Rachel Careau

Several stories inhabit Roger Lewinter’s first small book to appear in English. Each story takes the form of a loop: a spider who won’t stop returning; camellias that flourish and then die; dying parents whose presence is always felt; turning again and again to work on Rilke translations; a younger man whom the narrator sees each week at the Geneva street markets. All the tales touch on the possibility, the open possibility of love—a loop without end.

Lewinter’s short fictional works are at once prose poems and a form of dreaming; they are akin to the great French tradition of things sparking emotions and emotions sparking things—part Sarraute, part Robbe-Grillet, part Perec. Plot is not really the point of his meditative works. Lewinter concerns himself more with perception, apperception, and sudden inflections of grace: loss and beauty meet in an explosion of joy, which becomes, “in its brilliance, a means of transmittal.”