David Jack

David Jack

David Jack is a freelance writer and editor. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Monash University.

David Jack reviews 'Cacaphonies: The excremental canon of French literature' by Annabel L. Kim

June 2022, no. 443 25 May 2022
David Jack reviews 'Cacaphonies: The excremental canon of French literature' by Annabel L. Kim
Freud once argued that the pleasure of shit is the first thing we learn to renounce on the way to becoming civilised. For Freud, the true universalising substance was soap; for Annabel L. Kim it is shit; and French literature is ‘full of shit’, both literally and figuratively, from Rabelais’s ‘excremental masterpieces’ Pantagruel and Gargantua and the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of ... (read more)

David Jack reviews ‘Interventions 2020’ by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Andrew Brown

May 2022, no. 442 29 April 2022
David Jack reviews ‘Interventions 2020’ by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Andrew Brown
Michel Houellebecq has never been one to hide his light under a bushel. Since the publication of his second and best-known novel, Atomised, in 1998 (the same year some of the pieces included in Interventions 2020 were originally published in French), Houellebecq has established himself as the enfant terrible of French letters, primarily through his provocative and at times incendiary remarks. Inde ... (read more)

David Jack reviews 'The Inseparables' by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Lauren Elkin

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
David Jack reviews 'The Inseparables' by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Lauren Elkin
‘I loathe romans à clef as much as I loathe fictionalised biographies,’ wrote Simone de Beauvoir (1908–76). For this reason, the novel and the memoir were her preferred genres, even though the boundaries between the two were frequently blurred, a distinction that Beauvoir insisted must be maintained: fiction has ‘only very dubious connections with truth’. While Beauvoir was ad ... (read more)

'Bare life and health terror: Giorgio Agamben on the politics of the pandemic' by David Jack

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
'Bare life and health terror: Giorgio Agamben on the politics of the pandemic' by David Jack
In the allegory of the cave, Plato hypothesised the birth of the philosopher as one who emerged from the darkness of illusion into the light of truth. In the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic, philosophers are finding a platform, mostly in the press, indicative perhaps that we need an interpretation of what is happening around us beyond that offered by the media and daily conferences. As with Pla ... (read more)

David Jack reviews 'Serotonin' by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Shaun Whiteside

December 2019, no. 417 25 November 2019
David Jack reviews 'Serotonin' by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Shaun Whiteside
Serotonin is Michel Houellebecq’s eighth novel and appears four years after the scandalous and critically successful Submission (2015), a dystopian novel that depicts France under sharia law. In Serotonin, we are again presented with the standard Houellebecquian narrator: white, middle-aged, and middle class, seemingly in the throes of some mid-life crisis of a predominantly – but not exclusiv ... (read more)