Uncertain Manifesto

Frederic Pajak (Author) Donald Nicholson-Smith (Translator)
Available

Description

An illustrated artist's memoir of the motivations, feelings, ideas, figures (including Samuel Beckett and Walter Benjamin), travels, and love affairs that have influenced his life.

The writer and artist Frédéric Pajak was ten when he began to dream of "a book mixing words and pictures: snippets of adventure, random memories, maxims, ghosts, forgotten heroes, trees, the raging sea," but it was not until he was in his forties that this dream took form as Uncertain Manifesto. The utterly original book that he produced is a memoir born of reading and a meditation on the lives and ideas, the motivations, feelings, and fates of some of Pajak's heroes: Samuel Beckett and the artist Bram van Velde, and, especially, Walter Benjamin, whose travels to Moscow, Naples, and Ibiza, whose experiences with hashish, whose faltering marriage and love affairs and critique of modern experience Pajak re-creates and reflects on in word and image. Pajak's moody black-and white drawings accompany the text throughout, though their bearing on it is often indirect and all the more absorbing for that. Between word and image, the reader is drawn into a mysterious space that is all Pajak's as he seeks to evoke vanished histories and to resist a modern world more and more given over to a present without a past.

With the support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Product Details

Price
$19.95
Publisher
New York Review of Books
Publish Date
March 19, 2019
Pages
192
Dimensions
6.8 X 0.7 X 9.2 inches | 1.05 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781681372860
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Frédéric Pajak (b. 1955) is a Swiss-French writer and graphic artist born in Suresnes, France. He has written novels and film scripts, and he is a painter, as was his father, Jacques Pajak. He has edited and contributed to cultural and satirical periodicals and is the editor of the highly illustrated biannual journal Les Cahiers dessinés, devoted to graphic work ranging from cartooning to the drawings of old masters. But Pajak is best known for a long series of books of unique design which present his own full-page drawings accompanied by a biographical and autobiographical quasi narrative. The first of these works, which made his reputation, was L'Immense solitude (1999), which won the Prix Michel-Dentan in 2000. He followed this up with another similarly structured work, Le Chagrin d'amour (Broken Hearts), which dealt with Guillaume Apollinaire. Later subjects included Joyce, Luther, Freud, Nietzsche, Cesare Pavese, and Schopenhauer. In the same formal vein, Pajak's ongoing Uncertain Manifesto, which began with the present work in 2012, reached its seventh volume in 2018. Volume III was awarded the Prix Médicis (Essai) in 2014.

Donald Nicholson-Smith's translations of noir fiction include Jean-Patrick Manchette's Three to Kill; Thierry Jonquet's Mygale (a.k.a. Tarantula); and (with Alyson Waters) Yasmina Khadra's Cousin K. He has also translated works by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Henri Lefebvre, Raoul Vaneigem, Antonin Artaud, Jean Laplanche, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Guy Debord. For NYRB he has translated Manchette's Fatale, The Mad and the Bad, Ivory Pearl, and Nada and Jean-Paul Clébert's Paris Vagabond, as well as the French comics The Green Hand by Nicole Claveloux and Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures by Yvan Alagbé. Born in Manchester, England, he is a longtime resident of New York City.

Reviews

"[Pajak] meditates on the need to remember the past in order to understand the present...A complex portrait of the nature and power of narrative." --Kirkus Reviews

"Could Pajak be called an inventor [of the illustrated book]? It remains the case that Frédéric Pajak has brought it to a new perfection." --Le Nouvel Observateur


"Uncertain Manifesto is amazing, funny, touching. You have the sense that for Pajak making books is a question of life or death." --France Inter


"What's so moving is the combination of thoughtfulness and dreaminess, thoughtfulness about himself and about the world at large, and then there's the mix of drawing and quotation, of dry humor and modesty. What Frédéric Pajak gives us is a landscape in which thought moves." --Le Temps