Additional Book Information
Series: New York Review Books
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
by Frédéric Pajak, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson Smith
The writer and artist Frédéric Pajak was ten when he began to “dream of a work that would mingle words and images...bits of adventure, collected memories, sentences, phantoms, forgotten heroes, trees, the stormy sea,” but it was not until he was in his forties that this dream took form as Uncertain Manifesto. The utterly original book that he produced is a memoir born of reading and a meditation on the lives and ideas, the motivations, feelings, and fates of some of Pajak’s heroes: Samuel Beckett and the artist Bram van Velde, and, especially, Walter Benjamin, whose travels to Moscow, Naples, and Ibiza, whose experiences with hashish, whose faltering marriage and love affairs and critique of modern experience Pajak re-creates and reflects on in word and image. Pajak’s moody black-and-white drawings accompany the text throughout, though their bearing on it is often indirect and all the more absorbing for that. Between word and image, the reader is drawn into a mysterious space that is all Pajak’s as he seeks to evoke vanished histories and to resist a modern world more and more given over to a present without a past.
With the support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
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[Pajak] meditates on the need to remember the past in order to understand the present...A complex portrait of the nature and power of narrative.