Short summary - The Golden Fruits - Nathalie Sarraute - Nathalie Ilyanova Tcherniak

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Golden Fruits
Nathalie Sarraute - Nathalie Ilyanova Tcherniak

At one of the exhibitions, in small talk, the conversation about a new, recently published novel comes up. At first, no one or almost no one knows about him, but suddenly interest in him wakes up. Critics consider it their duty to admire the "Golden Fruits" as the purest example of high art - a thing, self-contained, perfectly polished, the pinnacle of modern literature. A laudatory article written by a certain Brulay was written. No one dares to object, even the rebels are silent. Having succumbed to the wave that has swept over everyone, the novel is read even by those who never have enough time for modern writers.
Someone authoritative, to whom the weakest "poor ignoramuses", wandering in the night, stuck in a quagmire, appeal to express their own judgment, dares to note that for all the undeniable merits of the novel, there are some shortcomings in it, for example in language. In his opinion, there is a lot of confusion in him, he is awkward, sometimes even heavy, but the classics, when they were innovators, also seemed confusing and awkward. In general, the book is modern and perfectly reflects the spirit of the times, and this is what distinguishes real works of art.
Someone else, not succumbing to the general epidemic of delight, does not aloud express his skepticism, but puts on a contemptuous, slightly annoyed look. His like-minded person only dares to confess in private with him that she also does not see any merits in the book: in her opinion, it is difficult, cold and seems to be a fake.
Some experts see the value of Golden Fruits in the fact that the book is true, it has amazing accuracy, it is more real than life itself. They strive to figure out how it was made, savor individual fragments, like juicy pieces of some exotic fruit, compare this work with Watteau, with Fragonard, with the rippling of water in the moonlight.
The most exalted ones fight in ecstasy, as if pierced by an electric current, others convince that the book is fake, this does not happen in life, others climb to them with explanations. Women compare themselves to the heroine, suck on the scenes of the novel and try them on.
Someone is trying to analyze one of the scenes of the novel out of context, it seems far from reality, devoid of meaning. About the scene itself, it is only known that the young man threw a shawl over the girl's shoulders. Those who have doubts ask the convinced supporters of the book to explain some details to them, but the "convinced" recoil from them as from heretics. They attack the lonely Jean Laborie, who is especially diligently silent. A terrible suspicion weighs on him. He begins, stumbling, to make excuses, to reassure the others, let everyone know: he is an empty vessel, ready to accept whatever they wish to fill him with. Whoever disagrees - pretends to be blind, deaf. But there is one who does not want to give in: it seems to her that "Golden Fruits" is mortal boredom, and if there are any advantages in the book, then she asks to prove them with the book in hand. Those who think like her straighten their shoulders and smile at her gratefully. Maybe they saw the merits of the work themselves long ago, but decided that because of such a smallness it was impossible to call the book a masterpiece, and then they would laugh at the rest, at the non-spoiled, content with "liquid gruel for the toothless," they will treat them like children. However, a fleeting flash is immediately dimmed. All views are drawn to two venerable critics. In one, a powerful mind is raging like a hurricane, wandering lights feverishly flash in his eyes from thoughts. Another is like a wineskin filled with something valuable that he shares only with a select few. They decide to put in place this imbecile, this troublemaker, and explain the merits of the work in abstruse terms that confuse the audience even more. And those who for a moment hoped to go to the "sunny expanses" again find themselves driven into the "endless expanse of the icy tundra."
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Only one of the crowd comprehends the truth, notices the conspiratorial look that the two exchange before the triple padlock locks himself off from the rest and speaks his judgment. Now everyone obsequiously worships them, he is lonely, "who has comprehended the truth", he is always looking for a like-minded person, and when he finally finds them, the two look at them as mentally retarded who cannot understand the intricacies, laugh at them and are surprised that they have been discussing Golden Fruits for so long.
Critics soon appear - such as a certain Monod, who calls "Golden Fruits" "zero"; Mettetadier goes even further and sharply opposes Breuet. A certain Martha finds the novel funny, considers it a comedy. Any epithets are suitable for "Golden Fruits", it has everything in the world, some believe, this is a real, real world. There are those who were before the "Golden Fruits", and those who are after. We are the generation of "Golden Fruits", as they will call us, others pick up. The limit has been reached. However, voices are heard more and more clearly, calling the novel cheap, vulgar, empty space. Loyal supporters claim that the writer made some of the shortcomings on purpose. They are objected that if the author decided to deliberately introduce elements of vulgarity into the novel, he would thicken the colors, make them richer, turn them into a literary device, and hiding flaws under the word “on purpose” is ridiculous and unjustified. Some are confused by this argument.
However, a crowd of thirsty for truth asks a benevolent critic to prove its beauty with a book in hand. He makes a feeble attempt, but his words, breaking loose from his tongue, “fall as sluggish leaves,” he cannot find a single example to confirm his laudatory reviews and retreats in disgrace. The characters themselves wonder how they happen to be present all the time with incredible changes in their attitude to the book, but this already seems quite familiar. All these unreasonable sudden fascinations are like mass hallucinations. Until very recently, no one dared to object to the merits of the "Golden Fruits", and soon it turns out that they are spoken of less and less, then they generally forget that such a novel ever existed, and only descendants in a few years will be able to say for sure whether whether this book is true literature or not.