Alphonse Daudet

In the Land of Pain
  • In the Land of Pain

  • Alphonse Daudet was a highly popular nineteenth-century French novelist, whose work radiated humour and good cheer. Few knew that for his entire adult life he suffered from syphilis, a disease both unmentionable and incurable at the time. What even fewer realised was that he kept an intimate notebook in which he recorded the development and terrifying effects of the disease. Describing a life in pain, and the sometimes alarming treatments he underwent, Daudet's journal is unique for its comic zest, lucid self-examination and stoicism.

    Translated by the Booker Prize-winning writer Julian Barnes.

Alphonse Daudet was born in Nimes in 1840. He made his name with gentle stories and novels portraying life in the French provinces, notably Lettres de mon Moulin (1869). He died in 1897. His extraordinary notebooks detailing the effects of syphilis on his life were first published under the title In the Land of Pain by Daudet's widow in 1931. The first English translation by Julian Barnes was published by Cape in 2002.


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