Author(s): Fleur Jaeggy: Minna Proctor (TRN)
New Directions is proud to present Fleur Jaeggy's strange and mesmerizing essays about the writers Thomas De Quincey, John Keats, and Marcel Schwob. A renowned stylist of hyper-brevity in fiction, Fleur Jaeggy proves herself an even more concise master of the essay form, albeit in a most peculiar and lapidary poetic vein. Of De Quincey's early nineteenth-century world we hear of the habits of writers: Charles Lamb "spoke of 'Lilliputian rabbits' when eating frog fricassse"; Henry Fuseli "ate a diet of raw meat in order to obtain splendid dreams"; "Hazlitt was perceptive about musculature and boxers"; and "Wordsworth used a buttery knife to cut the pages of a first-edition Burke." In a book of "blue devils" and night visions, the Keats essay opens: "In 1803, the guillotine was a common child's toy." And poor Schwob's end comes as he feels "like a 'dog cut open alive'": "His face colored slightly, turning into a mask of gold. His eyes stayed open imperiously. No one could shut his eyelids. The room smoked of grief." Fleur Jaeggy's essays-or are they prose poems?-smoke of necessity: the pages are on fire.
"Enjoy these short, meditative pieces slowly; Jaeggy is addictive." -- Kirkus Reviews "Terse beauties falling on the reader like a chaste gray rain." -- Robert Byers - The New Republic "Small-scale, intense, and impeccably focused." -- The New Yorker "She has the enviable first glance for people and things, she harbors a mixture of distracted levity and authoritative wisdom." -- Ingeborg Bachmann "Delicious-such monstrous control and insight that at moments while reading you experience a distinct feeling of levitation." -- Carole Maso
The London Times Literary Supplement named Fleur Jaeggy's S.S. Proleterka as a Best Book of the Year; and her Sweet Days of Discipline won the Premio Bagutta as well as the Premio Speciale Rapallo. The author of Do You Hear What I Hear? Religious Calling, the Priesthood, and My Father, and the editor of The Literary Review, MINNA PROCTOR won the PEN/Renato Poggioli Award for her translation of Federigo Tozzi's Love in Vain.