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The Manuscript Found in Saragossa

Jan Potocki - Author

Ian MacLean - Translator

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ISBN 9780140445800 | 656 pages | 01 Sep 1996 | Penguin Classics | 5.07 x 7.79in | 18 - AND UP
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The traveller, aristocratic adventurer, political activist, ethnographer and publisher Jan Potocki (1761-1815) is a legendary figure in Poland, not least for his literary masterpiece The Manuscript Found in Saragossa.

The novel's narrator Alphonse van Worden, a young Walloon officer journeying to join his regiment in Madrid in 1739, is diverted into the Sierra Morena and mysteriously detained in the company of thieves, cannibalists, noblemen and gypsies whose stories he records for us as he hears them, day by day over a period of sixty-six days.

The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, which has counted Alexander Pushkin among its many admirers, was published only in part in its author's lifetime, and thereafter has only been known fully through a Polish translation which appeared long after his death; controversy still rages over the original French text and the meaning to be attributed to it. A novel of stories-within-stories, it combines the picaresque with gothic horror and the supernatural, wit with erotic lyricism and inventiveness and, like the Decameron and the One Thousand and One Nights, it offers entertainment on an epic scale.

'A Polish classic ... constructed like a Chinese box of tales ... It reads like the most brilliant modern novel' - Salman Rushdie in the Guardian

'The translation by Ian MacLean is crisp, lucid and unfussy ... A beautiful volume, underlining Potocki's forgotten masterpiece as a work of real substance' - James Woodall in The Times

'A picaresque ramble through Islam and the inquisition ... This is the stuff of reading on a grand scale, fiction of enduring splendour' - David Hughes in the Mail on Sunday

'A bravura translation ... the 100 or so stories told over 66 "Days" are fantastic, ghostly, erotic, comic, ghoulish, philosophical and Munchausenly tall' - David Coward in the Sunday Telegraph

'This volume is excellent value, two dozen fresh and ingenious tales for the price of a novel' - Julian Duplain in The Times Literary Supplement

'One of the strangest books ever written can at last take its rightful place in world literature' - Kola Krauze in the Guardian

'One of the great masterpieces of European literature . . . this new translation offers us the work as a whole in English for the first time, in the dizzyingly elaborate form envisioned by the author's extraordinary imagination.' - The New York Times Book Review