Title: These Possible Lives: Essays
Author: Fleur Jaeggy
Translated from the Italian by Minna Zallman Proctor
Publisher: New Directions Books
Genre: Nonfiction, Essays
Source: The Boxwalla
This short luminous book consists of three essays of these lives – Thomas De Quincey, John Keats, and Marcel Schwob. These writers, whose lives were brief, but perhaps full – each life ultimately centred on death by the author.
Jaeggy’s brevity shines on each page. She doesn’t find the need to ramble on about each of them – saying what she must, and does so with great simplicity, sometimes wit, straightforwardness, and for some maybe not enough, but worked beautifully for me.
The biographies (if I can call them that) extend themselves most naturally to the subjects’ habits, physicality, to their friends, their lives, and finally leading all to death. There is so much going on in these essays, using history, masculinity, the violence, and melancholy that runs throughout. Proctor’s translation makes it even more lyrical, though fragmented, disjointed, and surreal – reading as prose poems more than anything.
They draw you in, and I am sure I will read more about these lives in days to come. These Possible Lives is a short treat for readers – meditative and emotional.