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Hebdomeros with Monseiur Dudron's Adventure and Other Metaphysical Writings Paperback – February 2, 2004

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his introduction, Ashbery hails the famed painter de Chirico's only novel as "the finest work of Surrealist fiction."
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

MARK POLIZZOTTI has translated more than forty books from the French, including Patrick Modiano's "Suspended Sentences", and is director of the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Exact Change; 1992 Ediiton edition (February 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1878972065
  • ISBN-13: 978-1878972064
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
HEBDOMEROS is quite unearthly and would be a disappointment to anyone looking for a conventional novel. But you are likely here for something else. It moves with the logic of a dream, passing from one scene to the next with the same warp of tension a plotted novel might have, yet HEBDOMEROS has no plot, it is errant, distracted. "It's strange," Hebdomeros was thinking, "as for me, the idea that something had escaped my understanding would keep me awake at nights, whereas people in general are not in the least perturbed when they see or read or things that they find completely obscure." This from the opening page, a comment on its own strangeness, instructing the reader a little in what is to come. And what follows is completely beautiful. Here is something to finish on: "Hebdomeros turned his steps again toward the rivers with the concrete banks, toward the decaying palaces whose domes and weather vanes rose up under the ever-fleeing clouds. This forbidding place whose solemn door was closed at the moment ought to have saddened him, but the recollection of what he had seen there during moments spent in the midst of a scattered and indifferent public was quite enough to console him. He saw, moving up slowly out of the chiaroscuro of his memory and little by little defining themselves in his mind, the shapes of those temples and sanctuaries built in plaster that stand at the foot of sheltering mountains and rocks through which ran narrow passes that made one strangely aware not only of the unknown worlds nearby, but also of those distant horizons heavy with adventure that ever since his unhappy childhood Hebdomeros had always loved."
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Format: Paperback
Giorgio De Chirico is considered one of the founders of the Surrealist school of art, and this is his only novel. De Chirico is famous for a body of work created early in the Twentieth Century, approximately coinciding with the First World War, whose works are classified as "Metaphysical Painting"; these works depict haunting, desolate landscapes and odd arrangements of seemingly incongruous arrangements of objects, depicted with illogical perspectives. Hebdomeros - published in 1929, about ten years after De Chirico abandoned his earlier style in favor of a neo-classical style he was to embrace for the rest of his career - is in the spirit and has the feel of his earlier works; it is a prose version of those haunting landscapes and still lifes.

Hebdomeros cannot be said to have a story or a plot; it is more like an extended series of visions, a tour through the protagonist's dreamlike experiences. The story has an odd familiarity in the form of a similarity to the disconnectedness and illogicality of our dreams or reveries. It feels like being immersed in somebody's dream. Hebdomeros is a featureless being; this novel is not about him but about his experiences.

This novel is like a form of prose poetry. The scenes and images he strings together paint for the mind's eye the same sort of haunting, desolate images represented in his famous works. People, places, things and events have an inner logic of their own, but they all somehow harmonize together into a coherence reminiscent of our dreams.

This is perhaps one of the few novels that can make you look forward to reading it a second time. It is a testament to De Chirico's genius as an artist that he was able to so successfully translate into another medium the world created by his famous works of visual art.
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Giorgio de Chirico is justly famous for his work as a painter, which in its evocative, anticipatory calmness & eerie power has little equal. But in this short novel, he brings the same qualities to bear in prose, with no diminishing of that power. For those who expect a conventional novel, disappointment & confusion await; but if you give yourself over to the flowing language & transporting imagery of this work, you'll be richly rewarded.

But let me offer a sample:

"Already the air grew warmer and the plants turned green on the plain; the goatherds had come down from the surrounding mountains and played cheerful tunes on their long copper flutes; spring was in the air; in this Nordic country it arrived suddenly, with the striking effect of a stage décor appearing behind a rising curtain; an air of symbolism floated over nature; hundreds of tiny waterfalls, fed by the melting snows, tumbled down the mountainsides; angels with enormous wings, like those of eagles but interwoven with feathers as white and soft as goose feathers, sat by the wayside, one hand on the huge milestones that bore the sculptured likeness of two-headed Janus surmounted by a male sex organ; the angels were watching with a melancholy air the couples who moved off arm in arm beneath the almond trees in blossom."

If this piques your curiosity, then you're in for an astonishing journey, one with all the hyper-reality of a dream, continually pregnant with meaning & possibility. While it's definitely not for everyone, it's a truly visionary work, one that carries the reader in its wise, mysterious embrace to another world.

But as fellow Surrealist Paul Eluard once wrote, "There is another world, and it is this one."

That's the key to this novel, and to Surrealism itself -- the desire, the hunger, the quest to reveal the Marvelous, which is to be found in this world, all around us, if we would only open our eyes & see it fresh. Most highly recommended!
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