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.
Barnes...has given Daudet a startling resurrection
A new translation of a forgotten pocket masterpiece by a forgotten pocket French writer, a very short, moving, book about pain
Vivid and impressionistic, it reads at times like a list of symptoms, at times like a sort of macabre prose poem… It looks like a slight book, but Daudet's eloquence is dynamite
A great deal of this unique text needs explaining to modern readers. The footnotes that Barnes provides are wonders of information and observation, brilliant novellas in themselves
This slim volume is full of snapshots from the frontier of pain: unsentimental observations, anecdotes and cries of anguish