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Dipped in the blue ink of adolescence, Fleur Jaeggy's pen is an engraver's needle depicting roots, twigs, and branches of the tree of madness, growing in the splendid isolation of the small Swiss garden of knowledge into full leaf until it obscures every perspective. Extraordinary prose. Reading time is approximately four hours. Remembering time, as for its author: the rest of one's life.

—Joseph Brodsky

Fleur Jaeggy

Fleur Jaggy is a translator and novelist.

Fleur Jaeggy (1940– ) was born in Zurich, Switzerland and lives in Milano, Italy. In addition to her own work, she has translated the works of Marcel Schwob and Thomas de Quincey into Italian as well as written texts on them and Keats. The London Times Literary Supplement named Jaeggy's S.S.Proleterka a Best Book of the Year: and her Sweet Days of Discipline won the Premio Bagutta as well as the Premio Speciale Rapallo.


I Am the Brother of XX

Fiction by Fleur Jaeggy

translated by Gini Alhadeff

Fleur Jaeggy is often noted for her terse and telegraphic style, which brews up a haunting paradox: despite a zero-at-the-bone baseline, her fiction is intensely moving. As April Bernard commented in Newsday, how work “could be so chilly and so passionate at the same time is a puzzle, but that icy-hot quality is only one of its distinctions.” Here, in her newest collection, I Am the Brother of XX —whether the stories involve famous writers (Calvino, Ingeborg Bachmann, Joseph Brodsky) or baronesses, thirteenth-century visionaries or tormented siblings raised in elite Swiss boarding schools—Jaeggy contrives to somehow stealthily possess your mind. Her champagne gothic worlds are seething with quiet violence—and unforgettable.



These Possible Lives

Nonfiction by Fleur Jaeggy

translated by Minna Zallman Proctor

In these strange and hypnotic pieces—brief in a way a razor's slice is brief—on three writers, Fleur Jaeggy, a renowned stylist of hyperbrevity in fiction, proves herself an even more concise master of the essay form. In De Quincey’s early nineteenth-century world we hear of the habits of writers: Charles Lamb “spoke of ‘Lilliputian rabbits’ when eating frog fricassee,” Henry Fuseli “ate a diet of raw meat in order to obtain splendid dreams,” “Hazlitt was perceptive about musculature and boxers,” and “Wordsworth used a buttery knife to cut the pages of a first-edition Burke.” In a book of “blue devils” and night visions, the Keats essay opens: “In 1803, the guillotine was a common child’s toy.” And when poor Marcel Schwob’s end comes as he feels “like a ‘dog cut open alive’”... “His face colored slightly, turning into a mask of gold. His eyes stayed open imperiously. No one could shut his eyelids. The room smoked of grief.” Fleur Jaeggy’s essays—or are they prose poems?—smoke of necessity: the pages are on fire.



S. S. Proleterka

Fiction by Fleur Jaeggy

translated by Alastair McEwen

Our fifteen-year-old protagonist and her distant, financially ruined, yet somehow beloved father, Johannes, take a cruise together to Greece on the SS Proleterka. With a strange telescopic perspective, narrated from the day she suddenly decides she would like to receive her father’s ashes, our heroine recounts her youth. Her remarried mother, cold and far away, allowed the father only rare visits with the child who was stashed away with relatives or at a school for girls. "The journey to Greece, father and daughter. The last and first chance to be together." On board the SS Proleterka, she has a violent, carnal schooling with the sailors: "I had no experience of the other part of the world, the male part.” Mesmerized by the desire to be experienced, she crisply narrates her trysts as well as her near-total neglect of her father. SS Proleterka is a ferocious study of distance, diffidence, and "insomniac resentment."



Last Vanities

Fiction by Fleur Jaeggy

translated by Tim Parks

“Reading time is approximately four hours. Remembering time, as for its author, the rest of one’s life,” said Joseph Brodsky of Fleur Jaeggy’s novel, Sweet Days of Discipline. Now Jaeggy has come up with seven stories, each at some deep level in dark complicity with the others, all as terse and spare as if etched with a steel tip. A brooding atmosphere of horror, a disturbing and subversive propensity for delirium haunts the violent gestures and chilly irony of these tales. Full of menace, the air they breathe is stirred only by the Föhn, the warm west wind of the Alps that inclines otherwise respectable citizens to vent the spleen and angst of life’s last vanities.


Available: April 01 1998


Sweet Days of Discipline

Fiction by Fleur Jaeggy

translated by Tim Parks

Set in postwar Switzerland, Fleur Jaeggy’s eerily beautiful novel begins simply and innocently enough: "At fourteen I was a boarder in a school in the Appenzell." But there is nothing truly simple or innocent here. With the off-handed knowingness of a remorseless young Eve, the narrator describes life as a captive of the school and her designs to win the affections of the apparently perfect new girl, Fréderique. As she broods over her schemes as well as on the nature of control and madness, the novel gathers a suspended, unsettling energy. Now translated into six languages, I beati anni del castigo in its Italian original won the 1990 Premio Bagutta and the 1990 Premio Speciale Rapallo. In Tim Parks’ consummate translation (with its "spare, haunting quality of a prose poem"), Sweet Days of Discipline was selected as one of the London Times Literary Supplement’s Notable Books of 1992: "In a period when novels are generally overblown and scarcely portable, it is good to be able to recommend [one that is] miraculously short and beautifully written."


Available: May 01 1993