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In The Land Of Pain [Anglais] [Relié]

Alphonse Daudet , Julian Barnes

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Description de l'ouvrage

23 mai 2002

Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) was one of the most popular nineteenth-century French novelists, whose work radiated humour and good cheer. What few except those close to him knew was that for his entire adult life he suffered from syphilis, a disease both unmentionable and incurable at the time. What even fewer knew was that for the last dozen years of his life he kept an intimate notebook in which he recorded the inevitable development and terrifying effects of the disease. He described the often alarming treatments he took in the desperate attempt to defeat the disease, and wrote with comic zest about life in the spa-towns to which he was sent for a cure.

Even for a time when we are more openly confessional about illness, Daudet remains exemplary and instructive, both in his lucid self-examination and in his amused stoicism. In the Land of Pain was first published by Daudet's widow in 1931. Julian Barnes brings us the first English translation of this surprising, touching, and at times brutal masterpiece.

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Biographie de l'auteur

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.

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Amazon.com: 4.9 étoiles sur 5  8 commentaires
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Riveting Literary Analysis of Chronic Physical Pain 20 février 2003
Par R. W. Rasband - Publié sur Amazon.com
I became interested in this short book because I admired Julian Barnes' earlier work ("Flaubert's Parrot", "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters") and because of my own pain. I have neuropathy (nerve damage) in my hands, legs, and feet because of diabetes. Although my situation is not as dire as Alphonse Daudet's, I found myself nodding my head over and over at the accuracy of his perceptions. Daudet had ataxia: pain and progressive paralysis due to end-stage syphilis. He was a very popular comic writer in his day (the French late 19th century) but has been mostly forgotten except for this little book, which Barnes translated into English for the first time. Barnes also provides excellent commentary. This book combines lightness and literary weight in perfect proportion.
Daudet's weapon in his decade long struggle with his pain were his notebooks, which were filled with precise description and irony. (He finally died at age 57.) This sounds like a recipe for self-absorption, but there is very little ego in this book. Daudet approached his pain almost as a puzzle to be solved, not as an invitation for people to feel sorry for him. Barnes provides descriptions of Daudet's gallant response to his illness. Barnes quotes Philip Larkin: "courage is not frightening the others" and Daudet seems to have believed that as well. He was haunted by the thought of burdening his devoted wife and children, but agrees that his family responsibilities actually help him cope.
The effort of writing seems to have been cathartic for Daudet, and the reader is filled with a similar feeling of cheerfulness at having faced things squarely. Daudet had little use for religion: but at one point he admits that most people are not made happy by either good fortune or good health. He sighs, "all we lack is a sense of the divine." He carried on anyway, and this small, grim book may also help you too, in a way more sentimental books can't
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Insightful, poetic view of pain, death and graciousness 17 mai 2003
Par M. J. Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Third stage syphilis is an unlikely subject for an enchanting book - but this it is. First, one is impressed by the precision of observation and expression. While the symptoms are shared with other patients, this is always the description of a particular victim of the disease. Second, one is impressed by the ever-changing attitude of Daudet to the progression and feared progression of the diease. Third, one is impressed by Daudet himself in his concern for those around him. The result is an enjoyable, informative introduction to Daudet as a person and as an example of human response to continuous pain.
Julian Barnes' translation is excellent - footnotes are provided that identify people, places, medicines that are unfamilar. Two short essays on Daudet and syphlis complete the book.
While this book may not appear to be high on the to-be-read-list, it deserves a place near the top.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "My Anguish Is Great, and I Weep As I Write" 8 août 2003
Par James Paris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Books about pain can be excruciating to read, and this is one of them. It is fragmentary, brutally honest, and as direct as an uppercut to the jaw.
Other works in the same genre include Montaigne's long essay "Of Experience" and Tolstoy's novelette THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYICH. Somehow we would all like to think that we will escape pain and die softly like a snowflake evaporating in pure air. If we were all Zen masters, we could die like the sages in Yoel Hoffmann's brilliant collection, JAPANESE DEATH POEMS:
Inhale, exhale
Forward, back
Living, dying:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight --
Thus I return to the source.
-- Gesshu Soko (d. 1696)
Though not well known to English-speaking readers, Alphone Daudet was considered one of the greatest French novelists of the late 19th century. A full forty years before his death, he contracted syphilis around the age of 17. Around the age of 40, Daudet's illness reached the tertiary stage; and he was bedeviled by a symphony of pain that attacked his various organs, sometimes with brief remissions before new and more awful symptoms appeared.
It is ironical that, were he alive today, Daudet would be cured by antibiotics; and Montaigne's kidney stones, possibly by medications, possibly by a routine surgery.
British novelist Julian Barnes edited this collection of fragments. It takes only a couple of hours to read, but I guarantee that this book will leave echoes in your mind about the battles you yourself may face as you reach the endgame.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Morbid Yet Poignant 19 février 2006
Par directions - Publié sur Amazon.com
You can approach this book in two ways, first as a looker and secondly as an insider. For all you malady of the month types, this will certainly satisfy your curiousity and would please any gothic type. For those looking for something deeper, you will find substance in this book. As a person with tardive dystonia, a motor disorder, I can empathize with the pain and muscle spasms that the author of this book describes and how every moment of each day is spent trying to fend them off. People have mentioned that the author's neurosyphillis could now have been treated by medication. But I see something of greater importance. It would be almost a century before people began to think of themselves as "disabled" instead of sick and the shame attached to being in a dysfunctioning body would no longer place you in a seperate category of almost an untouchable, perhaps starting with F.D.R. rehabilitating from polio. In the Land of Pain, vividly depicts the gradual lose of humanity that was part of entering the world of people with disabilities that plagued humanity for centuries. This work is more significant than all the after the fact pseudo-scientific works that want to attribute syphillis to everyone from Napoleon to Beethoven to Hitler. This is a first person account of what it is like to be faced with a disorder that you know will eventually destroy your life. To quote from the book,

"I only know one thing, and that is to shout to my children, 'Long live life!' But it is so hard to do, while I am ripped apart by pain."
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Beauty In the Land of Pain 18 septembre 2013
Par G. Charles Steiner - Publié sur Amazon.com
This review is for: In the Land of Pain (Hardcover)

I became interested in reading about Alphonse Daudet's handling of syphillis after I finished reading Stanley Jackson's superb and touching biography of Guy de Maupassant who involuntarily entered a madhouse and died there as a result of his self-same disease.

While Alphonse Daudet suffered and grew more physically incapacitated, his mental faculties remained sharp, enough to write rather pithy, moving, even funny scenes of life while he suffered.

The most piercing observation Monsieur Daudet made in this collection of notes for this reader is found on page 41: "You have to die so many times before you die. . . ."

I think this particular book might be a great comfort to someone who is very ill, as it is to someone who is healthy.

The footnotes by Julian Barnes are very helpful in illuminating Daudet's aphorisms, descriptions and observations as they provide a wider context for comprehension as well as background and other biographical data.

Julian Barnes's "A Note on Syphillis" should have been placed at the very beginning of this collection in order to provide the reader with a less mysterious and unclear introduction to "tabes." I also discovered in one of his footnotes an unnerving reference to "German death camps" during WWII. There were work camps in Germany called concentration camps, but no death camps. I quickly realized that if the editor could lie, distort or exaggerate so egregiously about just one aspect of history, the likelihood of his doing so about Daudet's notes became a cautionary lesson, particularly since the original manuscript Daudet left after his death was lost and now the "victors" or survivors or those now living have a chance to put their own touches, spins or propaganda on it.

Nonetheless, this was not a depressing reading experience. It was elevating and fortifying, and this book is a positive gift from a poet who loved life with all its imperfections. You do lovingly learn a lot about the Daudet family and about Daudet's wonderful relationship to the Goncourt brothers as well along the way.
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