The daring, mischievous micro-essays of award-winning French humorist Éric Chevillard, published in English for the first time
Éric Chevillard is one of France’s leading stylists and thinkers, an endlessly inventive observer of the everyday whose erudition and imagination honor the legacy of Swift and Voltaire—with some good-natured postmodern twists.
This ensemble of comic miniatures compiles reflections on chairs, stairs, stones, goldfish, objects found, strangers observed, scenarios imagined, reasonable premises taken to absurd conclusions, and vice versa. The author erects a mental museum for his favorite artworks, only to find it swarming with tourists. He attends a harpsichord recital and lets his passions flare. He happens upon a piece of paper and imagines its sordid back story. He wonders if Hegel’s cap, on display in Stuttgart, is really worth the trip.
Throughout, Chevillard’s powers of observation chime with his verbal acrobatics. His gaze—initially superficial, then deeply attentive, then practically sociopathic—manages time and again to defamiliarize the familiar with a coherent and charismatic charm. Daniel Levin Becker’s translation deftly renders the marvels of the original, and a foreword by Daniel Medin offers rich contextual commentary, making a vital wing of French literature and humor newly accessible in English.
Éric Chevillard (b. 1964) is an award-winning French writer. His many books include The Valiant Little Tailor, Prehistoric Times, and Palafox. Daniel Levin Becker is the author of Many Subtle Channels and What’s Good and a member of the Parisian literary collective OULIPO. Daniel Medin is professor of comparative literature and English at the American University of Paris and a director of its Center for Writers and Translators.
“Museum Visits is a book of sheer exuberance, a delicious ten-course meal whipped up out of Chevillard’s fizzing, capacious, elegantly controlled delight in the world.”—Lauren Groff, author of The Vaster Wilds
“These improbable, oblique, razor-sharp and often hilarious miniatures seem to be about nothing very much. Don’t be taken in by appearances. Chevillard’s gem-like pieces, superbly translated by Daniel Levin Becker, bring to life a whole world, and its gently squinting observer.”—David Bellos, author of Is that a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything
“Daniel Levin Becker is a magician, an innovator, an engineer: a virtuoso translator. I am in awe of what he has achieved here.”—Kate Briggs, author of This Little Art
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