Review: Prehistoric Times

Prehistoric TimesPrehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard, translated by Alyson Waters (Archipelago Books; July 10, 2012)

This book was a lot. I was unprepared to be reading something so philosophical during my fluffy, cookie-and-pie-filled winter break. But alas, I am not a quitter. I eventually found myself enjoying the plentiful symbolism and the life-purpose contemplation. I was particularly impressed with Chevillard’s ability to stretch his selected metaphor, a cave, beyond the typical allegories. It’s like those improv games where you pass a spoon around, telling the group what the spoon is or could be: a spoon, a tool for engraving, etc. (lame examples); Chevillard managed to come up with more uses for the cave than did, for example, Plato.

I also liked how the work didn’t shy away from current technology (it was originally published in 1994). I haven’t been exposed to much contemporary philosophical literature, so this book was interesting to me, more than anything.

My only complaint was that the concept got repetitive, after a while. And I can tell that was definitely intended on the author’s part, but I just wanted to get the book over with by the time I was halfway finished. It definitely has merit as an intellectual work, but isn’t something that’s well-crafted enough to justify the length and weight it carries. Definitely ambitious, on the author’s part. But, for the slow rising action, it comes to a close rather quickly. Again, this could say something about the way existence happens, but I’m not sure how many excuses we can make for authors who attempt to use form to make a point. If it was hard to get through, it was hard to get through.

I would, however, like to see what else he’s written.

Rating: 3/5 stars


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