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Thought House of Philippa, The


Suzanne Leblanc's The Thought House of Philippa transposes a theory of individuality into a stunningly reflective, sensuous and frank philosophical novel. Setting the chapters in the various rooms of the house Ludwig Wittgenstein designed for his sister in Vienna, Leblanc's novel lays out P.'s intensely emotional and intellectually acute way of seeing the world and her place in it. Prompted by early isolation, P. moves towards the Great World of others and Nature, alienated from the everyday, yet devoted to a deeper connection, in an exploration that is profound and moving. Ideas crucial to Wittgenstein's work—limit, freedom, interior and exterior, self and world—echo and shift in Leblanc's precise, incantatory prose, propelled through the architecture. The distinct voices of the novel's four sections act as musical movements, constructed from repetition, variation and development of language, in alternating keys of austerity and splendour. The effect—a pure expression of the passion of clear thought, the adventure of solitude, and the beauty of uncompromising encounter—is utterly riveting. A sui generis experimental novel not to be missed.


"A unique and brilliant approach to the self, and to the intimate, as it creates and balances its own architecture of knowledge and emotion." —Nicole Brossard

"Attempts to make art with philosophical concepts continue to be treated with suspicion amongst those who insist that art be born in a burst, not composed stone by stone from ideas. What allows LeBlanc's Thought House of Philippa to succeed on its own terms lies in the elucidation of the propositions of its most prominent referent (Wittgenstein), while at the same time scraping against them. The result, oddly enough, is a firm yet soothing music. This is no mean feat. Same too for Dick and Avasilichioaei, the poet/translators of this edition, who deliver to English minds a text where (to enter squarely into Wittgenstein – if one dares to!) "What can be said at all can be [and is] said clearly."" —Michael Turner, author of Hard Core Logo


Suzanne Leblanc has a PhD in philosophy (1983) and in visual arts (2004) and has been teaching since 2003 at the School of Visual Arts at the University of Laval (Quebec). She has exhibited multi-media installations in Quebec and has published theoretical works in Germany, France, Switzerland and Canada. Her research and creative work deal with philosophical forms inherent in artistic disciplines. She is currently leading a research-creation group on artistic strategies for the spatialization of knowledge. La maison à penser de P. (La Peuplade, 2010) is her first novel.

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