Chaos and Night
Chaos and Night
New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590173046, 235pp.
Publication Date: February 17, 2009
Then a family member dies in Madrid and there is an inheritance to sort out. Pascualita wants to go to Spain, which is supposedly opening up in response to the 1960s, and Don Celestino feels he has no choice but to follow. He is full of dread and desire, foreseeing a heroic last confrontation with his enemies, but what he encounters instead is a new commercialized Spain that has no time for the past, much less for him. Or so it seems. Because the last act of Don Celestino's dizzying personal drama will prove that though "there is nothing serious . . ., there is tragedy."
An astonishing modern take on Don Quixote, "Chaos and Night" untangles the ties between politics and paranoia, self-loathing and self-pity, rage and remorse. It is the darkly funny final flowering of the art of Henry de Montherlant, a solitary and scarifying modern master whose work, admired by Graham Greene and Albert Camus, is sure to appeal to contemporary readers of Thomas Bernhard and Roberto Bolano.
discovered a new interest in the aberrations of human behavior and psychology, and developed his mature voice: sardonic, bemused, without hint of consolation. "The Bachelors" won the Grand Prix of the French Academy and was followed by four novels that were collected as "The Girls" (1936-39), one of Montherlant's major achievements and an international best seller. During WorldWar II, Montherlant remained in occupied Paris and wrote scathingly in right-wing journals about the fallen Third Republic, leading to later charges of collaborationism. He also turned from
fiction to drama, rapidly making a name as one of France's finest playwrights. In 1960, Montherlant was elected a member of the Academie Francaise. In 1972, after years of worsening health, he committed suicide.
Terence Kilmartin was literary editor of "The Observer" from 1951-1985. He translated several novels by Henry de Montherlant, including "The Bachelors," "The Girls," and "The Boys," as well as works by Andre Malraux, Francoise Sagan, and others. Kilmartin's revision of C.K. Scott Moncrieff's translation of Marcel Proust's "Remembrance""of Things Past" was published in 1981. He died in 1991.
Gary Indiana is a critic and novelist. His most recent books are "Utopia's Debris: Selected Essays "and "The Shanghai Gesture," a novel to be published in 2009. From 1985-1988 he was senior art critic for "The Village Voice," and has written for "New York" magazine, "Artforum,"
the "London Review of Books," and other publications.
“A magnificent novel of a type that only Montherlant could produce…The author’s feat in embodying much of himself in such an exceptional creation wile maintaining his customary austerity of view an of style, his almost frightening insolence and is extraordinary gift for characterization evoke…admiration.” –New York Times Book Review
“Indisputably a magnificent writer.” –Saturday Review
“Written with intense control and beautifully translated, Chaos and Night is one of those rare explorations of the place where political commitment, religious faith, illusion and necessity intersect, where morality and mortality come to terms.” –The New York Times
“Wry and likeable” –Time
“Admired by such as Malraux, Camus, Graham Greene and Peter Quennell…[and] one of the few French dramatists worthy of ranking with Corneille and Racine…This is a magnificent novel of a type that only he could produce…Henry de Montherlant will live as one of the outstanding writers of the century.” –The New York Times
“Well rendered in English by Terence Kilmartin.” –The New York Review of Books