I sort of hate to write a post about this (I’m feeling like maybe I’m a little too prolific), but my comments on wordpress.com blogs seem to get automatically flagged as spam for some reason (even, in some cases, on this very blog; maybe I am too prolific after all). So writing a post is an end-run around that and a way to weigh in via trackback on a post over at A Supposedly Fun Blog that sucked my comment into a spam black hole.
The post in question makes note of the misspelling of “roulants” as “rollents” in references to the Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents. It turns out that there are all sorts of French language errors in the book. In the post, Matthew speculates that this error is another attempt to disorient the reader. I don’t know how charitable it is to suggest that Wallace wanted to disorient anybody. Lay a bunch of information on them to force active reading, sure. But disorientation seems like such a malicious thing, and I don’t think there’s malice in Wallace’s work.
My vanished reply to his post went as follows:
Some suggest that the bad French is intentional, chalked up in some cases to the fact that much of it comes to us via term papers, etc., written by teenagers with dubious French language acumen. In long note 304 (in which we read about the origins of the AFR), we’re also led to question the authority or lucidity of the person who has written the paper Struck is cribbing from. So it could be a mistake, but given how squishy authority and lucidity in that note are, it could also very well be intentional.