The Tyrant by Jacques Chessex

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Chessex was a poet, and this comes to the fore in wonderful descriptive passages calling up daily routines, the vineyards, rolling hills, wildlife and the azure skies above the lake and mountains.
-Guardian

Synopsis

‘First published in France in 1973, this unbearably sad novel from Swiss author Chessex, the first non-French writer to win the Prix Goncourt, charts a man’s slow but steady path toward tragedy.Chessex perfectly captures the juxtaposition of the profound and the banal in a surreal scene where a mortuary representative hawks different models of urns to hold cremated remains. Jean’s burden of guilt only grows heavier with time, and the denouement will strike many as pathetically inevitable.’ Publishers Weekly

A haunting work, reminiscent of Albert Camus, that portrays with exquisite psychological detail the emotional crisis in the life of Jean Calmet, a young Swiss schoolteacher. As we watch the father's cremation in the opening chapter, we sense that, even though his father's body has been reduced to ashes, his spirit survives to haunt Jean. His father's prodigious vitality and virility had crushed his family and ruined his son's childhood. Even after his father's death, Jean cannot be free. The parental ogre's actions continue to suck Jean into a vortex of despair.


Jacques Chessex, a giant of Swiss literature, won the Grand Prix de la langue française and was awarded the Grand Prix Jean Giono for his entire work. Bitter Lemon Press published his novels The Vampire of Ropraz and A Jew Must Die to high acclaim. He died in 2009 at age seventy-five.

 

About Jacques Chessex

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Jacques Chessex, born in 1934, won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize for his novel L'Ogre. He is considered one of Switzerland's greatest authors, a novelist, poet, essayist and winner of the French Literature Grand Prix of the AcadA(c)mie FranAaise. Martin Sokolinsky is a retired professor of English, and a translator from French, German, and Spanish. His other translations include A Bag of Marbles by Joseph Joffo, The Teeth of the Wolf by Alain Paris, and Chopin by Bernard Gavoty.
 
Published April 10, 2012 by Bitter Lemon Press. 194 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Guardian

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Reviewed by JS Tennant on May 12 2012

Chessex was a poet, and this comes to the fore in wonderful descriptive passages calling up daily routines, the vineyards, rolling hills, wildlife and the azure skies above the lake and mountains.

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