“This is not for you“. A few scathing, definitive words tear the silence from the first seconds of reading. A first sentence as a provocation or even worse, a warning addressed to all those who intended to cross the threshold of The House of Leaves, the first cult novel by American writer Mark Z. Danielewski. This fatal credo, which accompanies us like a burden throughout this literary dive into troubled waters, symbolizes in itself the magnitude of the task, the violence of the experience. For the first time, a book advises us not to return. Let me tell you right away: rubbing shoulders with this monstrous beast that swallows up its readers one by one is a major challenge. Worse, attempting in a few paragraphs to summarize an unspeakable, unclassifiable work that does not conform to the codes of criticism is sacrilege… See also on Konbini From underground legend to planetary bestseller You had to be a dangerous madman or worse , a lover of literature, to resurrect from the dead a novel-world as labyrinthine as The House of Leaves. Who else than Éditions Monsieur Toussaint Louverture and the visionary Dominique Bordes could take on such a challenge, with a grain of salt in their hands. graphic novel by Emil Ferris crowned in 2019 with the Fauve d’Or d’Angoulême; after the masterstroke Blackwater, a serialized novel released directly in paperbacks throughout the summer, which became one of the biggest commercial successes of the year; the maverick of the French edition has embarked on a more personal adventure: to re-release in France, in a remastered version which respects all the literary, editorial and graphic requirements of its creator, one of its greatest shocks literary. Giving a second life to a legendary novel from geek culture, an underground phenomenon with a rocky existence. At the end of the 1990s, a strange manuscript circulated on the internet and created an unprecedented craze. A community of fans gathers to discuss this mysterious, one-of-a-kind text. Some paper versions also circulate under the coat like an object of contraband. This is the first novel of a dark stranger, a certain Mark Z. Danielewski. After 12 years of writing and more than 30 refusals from publishers, the American film student decided as a last resort to bypass the traditional distribution network, to print a few books himself to give them to those around him and to leak The House of Leaves on the internet. If the buzz on the forums is beginning to attract the attention of publishers, it is paradoxically the release of a film that will finally allow Danielewski’s novel to see the light of day in bookstores. In 1999, the success of the Blair Witch Project established the found footage technique in the horror genre. This fashionable process, which aims to make people believe that the film watched by the public is an old cassette found scene of the drama, is also at the heart of La Maison des Feuilles. After long negotiations, Pantheon Books wins the day and publishes the book at the turn of the new millennium. Nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, it instantly gained cult status and sold over a million copies. used is that of matryoshkas, these Russian dolls that fit together almost endlessly, constantly revealing a new reality, smaller, more disturbing. The story is first embodied in the figure of Johnny Errand, a tattoo artist from Los Angeles with a dissolute life who is looking for a room to rent. On the advice of a friend, he goes to the apartment of a certain Zampanò, an old man recently deceased. In the middle of the deceased’s belongings, he discovers a strange text, a sort of academic thesis devoted to a mysterious film, the Navidson Record. Navidson, like the name of this family from Virginia with a cursed destiny. If we follow Johnny’s wanderings in the background and gradually discover the existence of this Zampanò who devoted his life to studying film , the story unveils a third, larger narrative layer. Without warning, Danielewski takes us into this mysterious amateur film and unveils in images the terrible truth that has turned the lives of the Navidsons upside down… When they have just moved into their new home, Will, Karen and their two children discover a night that a new room has popped up in the house… After checking, the strangest truth comes to light: their home is bigger inside than outside. As they cross the threshold of this chamber of secrets, a staircase is revealed under their feet, a staircase of which they cannot see the end. Will Navidson, former reporter, then decides with some companions to lead a filmed expedition to document his exploration and unravel the mysteries of this paranormal phenomenon. Without suspecting that with each expedition, he will penetrate further into an unlimited hell and will be condemned, with the others, to certain death. In the alleys of the labyrinth… The House of Leaves offers a unique reading experience of its kind , as enjoyable as it is challenging. Often presented as one of the most terrifying tales ever written, Mark Z. Danielewski’s masterpiece can be seen as the ultimate horror novel. The successive explorations of Will Navidson and his band in the dark and endless passages of the maze hidden in the heart of the house offer scenes of dread that remain forever etched in the memory. Danielewski uses the millennial fascination for the labyrinth and transforms his novel into a fantasy laboratory and a psychoanalytic nightmare. Wandering, fear, death: this is what awaits anyone who crosses the threshold of this kingdom of darkness. Little by little, madness sets in on all floors. The more Johnny advances in his reading of Zampanò’s writings, the more he is caught up in this devouring story. The more Zampanò progresses in his thesis, the more we discover his morbid obsession for the film. The more Will evolves in the labyrinth, the more he persists in going further and further. The more the reader advances in the novel, the more he is haunted by its suffocating story. To represent his story, Danielewski has even developed a properly hallucinating graphic structure. The footnotes on their own tell another story, completely blank pages appear with just a word or a sentence, boxes are superimposed and deviate the narration, photos or drawings sometimes pierce the text. It even happens that you have to turn the book in all directions to follow the crazy march of the writing. The novelist explained: “There is this link which fascinates me between what we understand of a text and the which one composes it in one’s head. We must never forget that this thing in our skull thinks in three dimensions, distributes information, modifies the physical space around us. 2012), La Maison des Feuilles is also close to the Borgesian enterprise of La Bibliothèque de Babel in that it is a sublime mise en abyme of the power of the imagination and the indescribable flame that animates writers. progresses in writing exactly like Will in his appalling maze:“[Quand j’écris, ndlr], the air becomes thinner and colder. I alternate moments of disorientation and bursts of clarity. I feel like I have to redefine my self, to step into some kind of quantum foam where I know I can get lost forever.” Slenderman, creepypasta, SCP Foundation… The House of Leaves had a decisive influence on the world of horror, especially on urban legends and collaborative works that abound on the internet. Cult object and obsessive subject of the geek community, underground influence of pop culture, the novel has never had the right to a life on the big screen, apart from a dark mockumentary, The Navidson Record, produced by Miramax .Ultimate paradox of an extraordinary literary adventure, Danielewski, son of an avant-garde Polish filmmaker, thought of his book as a film where each chapter is a sequence and each page a shot, but he always fiercely refused any adaptation project.
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