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In The Land Of Pain (Anglais) Relié – 23 mai 2002

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Présentation de l'éditeur

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.

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: 7 commentaires
25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Riveting Literary Analysis of Chronic Physical Pain 20 février 2003
Par R. W. Rasband - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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 
Insightful, poetic view of pain, death and graciousness 17 mai 2003
Par M. J. Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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 
"My Anguish Is Great, and I Weep As I Write" 8 août 2003
Par James Paris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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 
Morbid Yet Poignant 19 février 2006
Par directions - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
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."
2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Surprisingly Beautiful For Such an Ugly Subject 5 juillet 2010
Par ghost of a red rose - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
It is very hard to review this book critically or give it a rating, because one can't judge it by the same criteria with which we usually evaluate books. It isn't a finished work, or even close. It's a collection of notes written for a planned book that never got beyond the note-taking stage due to the death of the author in 1897.

Daudet contracted syphilis at the age of seventeen, and at the time, there was no cure. By the early 1880's he was in the tertiary (final) stage of the disease, which in his case took the form of "tabes dorsalis,' which translates literally as "wasting away of the back." It is a form of neurosyphilis which attacks the spinal cord and column and is one of the slowest and most excruciatingly painful ways that a person can die.

I was interested in this book because my grandfather also died of syphilis. I never knew him - even my father barely remembers him because he was only a child when my grandfather was institutionalized due to his illness. From what few records exists, it seems he may have suffered from the same form as Daudet, as he also had blindness and ataxia. So reading this book felt like a way to connect with my unknown and long-dead grandfather.

It is easy to see why Daudet was so much-loved both as an author and a human being - a friend and a family man. Although known for his philandering (one wonders how he justified marriage and fatherhood, much less a series of love affairs, knowing full well that he had a fatal sexually-transmitted disease), his great love for his wife and children is evident. Not wanting them to suffer too, he exhibited an incredibly rigorous self-control in hiding his pain from his family. (We know this from the many notes written by his friends that are included in the book.) Instead, he channeled his expressions of suffering into his writing. The planned book was to be a journal of the progression of Daudet's pain and his journey into death.

Even unfinished and unedited, and concerning such a difficult and ugly subject, these writings are surprisingly poetic and beautiful. It makes me want to read some of his finished works, and wonder why - although highly popular at the time - they are mostly forgotten today.

The book also includes some important background information about the life and personality of Alphonse Daudet and about the medical manifestations of the disease of syphilis.

(87 pages)

Quotes from In The Land of Pain:

"Pain is always new to the sufferer, but loses its originality for those around him. Everyone will get used to it except me."

"The walks I used to take around this land of pain. Could still find it in myself to laugh. Lunches. La Bellocquiére. Seen it all again in my mind's eye. Villemagne and the Pont-du-Diable. Felt like crying. I remember what Caoudal said: 'And to think that I shall come to regret all this!'"

"Exchange between the bachelor and the married man. The problem of jealousy, when a man is no longer a man and becomes unable to defend his hearth and home."
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