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Book review: Clément Rosset essay explores illusionary storytelling

The French philosopher Clément Rosset's most popular essay, The Real and its Double, is translated into English for the first time.

The Real and its Double
Clément Rosset
Translated by Chris Turner
Seagull Books

Translated for the first time into English, Clément Rosset's most popular essay explores the illusionary nature of character representations, particularly in ancient forms of oracular storytelling. While at first glance, The Real and its Double appears strictly literary in its approach, a closer reading belies this in favour of the writer's more philosophical objective.

Rosset divides his discussion into three parts: illusions of the oracular, metaphysical and psychological. The oracular serves to illustrate the often fatalistic themes of his narrative examples of storytelling, such as in the tale of Oedipus Rex. This in turn leads to the more fleshed-out discussion covered in the metaphysical, which raises the question of whether destiny is inevitable, regardless of the path taken to avoid it. Finally, Rosset adds another dimension to his hypothesis with his exploration of how perception of destiny itself might actually affect reality as perceived by its witness.

For the most part, it would be fair to term Rosset's discussion strictly subjective, depending on the reader's own opinion.

However, with the issue of objectivity aside, this is an essay both bold enough to attract attention and illuminating enough to keep it.

* Noori Passela

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