Autoportrait

( 2 )

Overview

In this brilliant and sobering self-portrait, Edouard Levé hides nothing from his readers, setting out his entire life, more or less at random, in a string of declarative sentences. Autoportrait is a physical, psychological, sexual, political, and philosophical triumph. Beyond "sincerity," Levé works toward an objectivity so radical it could pass for crudeness, triviality, even banality: the author has stripped himself bare. With the force of a set of maxims or morals, Levé's prose seems at first to be an ...

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Autoportrait

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Overview

In this brilliant and sobering self-portrait, Edouard Levé hides nothing from his readers, setting out his entire life, more or less at random, in a string of declarative sentences. Autoportrait is a physical, psychological, sexual, political, and philosophical triumph. Beyond "sincerity," Levé works toward an objectivity so radical it could pass for crudeness, triviality, even banality: the author has stripped himself bare. With the force of a set of maxims or morals, Levé's prose seems at first to be an autobiography without sentiment, as though written by a machine—until, through the accumulation of detail, and the author's dry, quizzical tone, we find ourselves disarmed, enthralled, and enraptured by nothing less than the perfect fiction... made entirely of facts.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Simultaneously brilliant and banal, Levé's newest (after Suicide) is a vivid self-portrait/autobiography that lays bare the workings of his mind, the flashes of recollection that make up his life. Fears, observations, pets, favorite words, foods, sleeping positions, and sexual infidelities emerge in a dreamy, stream-of-conscious mélange reminiscent of Lyn Hejinian's seminal My Life: "I cut my own hair…I have seen too many grinning corpses on TV…I will repeat sentences or opinions that I've heard, verbatim…To reassure myself, when I am lost in a foreign city, I go to the supermarket." There is no coherent narrative here—no beginning or middle—, and the string of unconnected musings does occasionally grow monotonous; but then life is often unremarkable, and Levé does not discriminate. This is an autobiography to be read slowly, piece by piece, savoring the sensory details and fragmented stories, all the while pondering what parts of our own lives we would use to tell our own self-portrait—though Levé admits that "To describe life would take longer than to live it." (Mar. 15)
The Quarterly Conversation - Scott Esposito
[A] small gem from a writer of great talent and originality.
Words Without Borders
Autoportrait is a delight the first time around and only gets better upon rereading or being read alongside Levé's other works.
Numero Cinq - Jason DeYoung
An unflinching self-portrait.
The Complete Review
Levé's text is a fluid, absorbing — and often beautiful — read. A fascinating piece of work.
The Quarterly Conversation - Scott Esposito

[A] small gem from a writer of great talent and originality.

Words Without Borders

Autoportrait is a delight the first time around and only gets better upon rereading or being read alongside Levé's other works.

Numéro Cinq - Jason DeYoung

An unflinching self-portrait.

The Complete Review

Levé's text is a fluid, absorbing -- and often beautiful -- read. A fascinating piece of work.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564787071
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2012
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 685,753
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Edouard Levé
was born on January 1, 1965
in Neuilly-sur-Seine. A writer,
photographer,
and visual artist,
Levé was the author of four books of writing—Oeuvres, Journal,
Autoportrait, and Suicide—and three books of photographs.
Suicide, published in 2008, was his final book.

Lorin Stein is former senior editor at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux where he worked closely with many notable authors. He has also worked on translations of Roberto Bolaño, as well as personally translating the fiction of Grégoire Bouillier. He is the editor of the Paris Review.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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