The Tyrant

The Tyrant

By (author) Jacques Chessex , Translated by Martin Sokolinsky

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A haunting work, reminiscent of Albert Camus, which portrays with exquisite psychological detail the emotional crisis in the life of a young Swiss schoolteacher. His father's prodigious vitality and virility had crushed his family and ruined his son's childhood. Even after his death the parental ogre haunts his son, sucking him into a vortex of despair. Fits with the contemporary success of autobiographical novels, focused on a tormented childhood, parental persecution and the loneliness of the outlier. Chessex's book is based on the character of his own father, his totalitarian and austere Calvinist upbringing and his escape to the sensual world of serial seduction. These motifs and the meditation on death have informed most of his fiction, especially "The Tyrant", his most successful book by far with 450,000 copies sold.

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  • Paperback | 185 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 18mm | 181.44g
  • 10 Apr 2012
  • Bitter Lemon Press
  • London
  • English
  • 190473894X
  • 9781904738947
  • 928,695

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Author Information

Chessex is a giant of Swiss literature. In 1973 He obtained the Prix Goncourt for the novel L'Ogre. In 1992, he obtained the Mallarme Prize for poetry for Les Aveugles du seul regard, as well as the Grand Prize of the Fondation Vaudoise pour la creation artistique. In 1999, he was awarded the Grand Prix de la langue francaise, and the Goncourt poetry grant for Allegria. In 2007, he was awarded the Grand Prix Jean Giono for his entire work. Chessex suffered a heart attack and collapsed during a public discussion on 9 October 2009 about his play The Confession of Father Burg.

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Review quote

'So many pages of rich prose, upsetting, but reflecting the warm essence of life in this novel--a meditation on death.' Express 'A disturbing novel but a realistic one, anchored in the daily, the concrete, a savvy mixture of life and death, landscapes and short thoughts, obsessed by the father's role in a son's life. A novel to be devoured in one go.' Le Monde 'Chessex, a prominent Swiss writer, died in 2009 at age 75. He was the first non-French citizen to win the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award. Readers of this particular novel, which is one of Chessex's many, will quickly understand why he was so honored. Read him for the historical context and for the sheer beauty of his prose'. Booklist

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