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A Splendid Conspiracy

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Overview

Three friends in a small Egyptian city celebrate idleness, elegance, and joie de vivre.

Summoned home to Egypt after a long European debauch (disguised as “study”), our hero Teymour—in the opening line of A Splendid Conspiracy—is feeling “as unlucky as a flea on a bald man’s head.” Poor Teymour sits forlorn in a provincial café, a far cry from his beloved Paris. Two old friends, however, rescue him. They applaud his phony diploma as perfect in “a world where everything is false”...

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A Splendid Conspiracy

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Overview

Three friends in a small Egyptian city celebrate idleness, elegance, and joie de vivre.

Summoned home to Egypt after a long European debauch (disguised as “study”), our hero Teymour—in the opening line of A Splendid Conspiracy—is feeling “as unlucky as a flea on a bald man’s head.” Poor Teymour sits forlorn in a provincial café, a far cry from his beloved Paris. Two old friends, however, rescue him. They applaud his phony diploma as perfect in “a world where everything is false” and they draw him into their hedonistic rounds as gentlemen of leisure. Life, they explain, “while essentially pointless is extremely interesting.” The small city may seem tedious, but there are women to seduce, powerful men to tease, and also strange events: rich notables are disappearing.

Eyeing the machinations of our three pleasure seekers and nervous about the missing rich men, the authorities soon see—in complex schemes to bed young girls—signs of political conspiracies. The three young men, although mistaken for terrorists, enjoy freedom, wit, and romance. After all, though “not every man is capable of appreciating what is around him,” the conspirators in pleasure certainly do.

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Editorial Reviews

The Guardian
“A legend…His caustic satire burned like the desert sun, undermining all forms of authority. Cossery despised materialism and eschewed the rat race... The overt message [is] that paradise is not lost, but most of us are too busy to bask in the Edenic simplicity of the world.”
Henry Miller
“I never see anything anywhere like it. All of Cossery’s books have a rare, exotic, haunting, unique flavor.”
The Times [London]
“Above all Cossery, one of the last and quirkiest links to the postwar glory days of St. Germain-de-Pres, elevated idleness to an art form.”
Publishers Weekly
The idleness of young men finds devilish outlets in this queasy novel by late Egyptian author Cossery (1913-2008). A young rake, having left home six years before, ostensibly to study abroad, reluctantly returns to his un-named provincial Egypt hometown at the behest of his father. However, young Teymour, who never enrolled in a university and bought a fake diploma, finds plotting seductions of young girls with his old friends much more fun than working in the family business, and soon Teymour and his friends, Medhat and Imtaz, are acting as procurers of schoolgirls for a rich dupe named Chawki. Throw in a flimsy element of mystery involving the inexplicable disap-pearance of certain prominent male citizens, a police chief who suspects the young idlers of plotting rebellion, and a thriving brothel with a bawdy advertising campaign, and you've got a prurient, over-the-top throwback that's some-times hard to take seriously. Fluidly translated, this novel reads much like a horny old goat's fantasy, and its appeal will likely be limited to the Henry Miller set. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811217798
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Cossery (1913–2008) was an Egyptian-born French novelist. Among his works are The Colors of Infamy, A Splendid Conspiracy, and The House of Certain Death, all published by New Directions.

Alyson Waters teaches at Yale and won a PEN Translation Fund Award prize for her translation of Albert Cossery’s The Colors of Infamy.

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