Monday, 7 December 2009


My obituary of Jacques Chessex is in today's Guardian, you can link to it here. In a very moving piece of synchronicity, a copy of A Jew Must Die, which is published in February, arrived in the post this morning from the estimable Bitter Lemon Press, and moves to the top of my reading list. You can also read my September 2008 review of The Vampire Of Ropraz by linking here.

A couple of small points about the obit: L'Ogre was published in English as A Father's Love, but only in America, by Bobbs Merrill. It's an interesting title switch, because of the ironic ambiguity, but what is lost is the fairy-tale sense of a dangerous childhood. The Guardian added the French titles of books which basically have English cognates, like The Vampire Of Ropraz, which seemed redundant to me, but in the case of Les Aveugles du seul regard left the title as is, as I suggested they might, since my own translation as The Blind Who Only Glance may not be the best.

I had also mentioned a collaboration he did with the sculptor Manuel Muller, A Night In The Forest, which when I wrote the piece had yet to appear, but now presumably has been published. I'm hoping Bitter Lemon will publish The Last Skull Of M. De Sade in English eventually; in Donald Wilson's translations one gets the feeling of Chessex's French prose, a style which reminds me somewhat of the prose of poets like Robert Creeley, and with the atmospheric feeling of a number of Quebecois novelists, particularly Marie-Claire Blais.


Ali Karim said...

Thanks for that Mike, I got his new book Saturday as well, and wonderfully dark, and beautiful, so sad to hear of his passing


Anonymous said...

would love to be in touch about Chessex and the launch in February.
Could you email me