Above all Cossery, one of the last and quirkiest links to the postwar glory days of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, elevated idleness to an art form. He lived on his royalties and the generosity of his friends, and he liked to show his hands and say: ‘They have not worked for 2,000 years.”
The London Times

Three friends in a small Egyptian city celebrate idleness, elegance, and joie de vivre

A Splendid Conspiracy

Fiction by Albert Cossery

Translated from the French by Alyson Waters

Summoned home to Egypt after a long European debauch (disguised as “study”), our hero Teymour – in the opening line of A Splendid Conspiracy – is feeling “as unlucky as a flea on a bald man’s head.” Poor Teymour sits forlorn in a provincial café, a far cry from his beloved Paris. Two old friends, however, rescue him. They applaud his phony diploma as perfect in “a world where everything is false” and they draw him into their hedonistic rounds as gentlemen of leisure. Life, they explain, “while essentially pointless is extremely interesting.” The small city may seem tedious, but there are women to seduce, powerful men to tease, and also strange events: rich notables are disappearing. Eyeing the machinations of our three pleasure seekers and nervous about the missing rich men, the authorities soon see–in complex schemes to bed young girls–signs of political conspiracies. The three young men, although mistaken for terrorists, enjoy freedom, wit, and romance. After all, though “not every man is capable of appreciating what is around him,” the conspirators in pleasure certainly do.

Editions: PaperbackEbook

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Paperback (published May 1, 2010)

ISBN
9780811217798
Price US
14.95
Price CN
19
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
224

Ebook (published May 1, 2010)

ISBN
9780811221269
Price US
14.95
Page Count
224

Albert Cossery

20th century Egyptian writer

Above all Cossery, one of the last and quirkiest links to the postwar glory days of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, elevated idleness to an art form. He lived on his royalties and the generosity of his friends, and he liked to show his hands and say: ‘They have not worked for 2,000 years.”
The London Times
Rare, exotic, haunting, unique.
—Henry Miller
Albert Cossery ought to be a household name. He’s that good: an elegant stylist, an unrelenting ironist, his great subject the futility of ambition ‘in a world where everything is false.’
—David Ulin, The Los Angeles Times
A legend… His caustic satire burned like the desert sun, undermining all forms of authority. Cossery despised materialism and eschewed the rat race… The overt message [is] that paradise is not lost, but most of us are too busy to bask in the Edenic simplicity of the world.
Guardian