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A Night of Serious Drinking (Tusk Ivories) Paperback – 1 May 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 121 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd; New edition edition (1 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715632752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715632758
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,057,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description

About the Author

Rene Daumal (1908-1944) was one of the most original thinkers of the twentieth century; a poet, philosopher, and scholar of religion and Sanskrit. In his late-teens his avant-garde poetry was published in leading journals, and barely in his twenties, as a counter to Surrealism and Dadaism, he founded a literary journal, Le Grand Jeu. He wrote many essays on religion and philosophy, trained himself in Oriental languages, and engaged in drug experiments. He died of tuberculosis in 1944, at the age of thirty-six.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
"There are only three exits: death and madness" 8 July 2008
By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross - Published on
Format: Paperback
A Night of Serious Drinking is among Rene Daumal's most important literary works. Like his more widely read Mount Analogue, it is a work of symbolic fiction that can be enjoyed purely as an entertaining and imaginative story, but also for its much deeper meaning embedded in its deceptively simple plot: an unnamed narrator spends an evening getting drunk with a group of friends. As the party becomes intoxicated and more and more exuberant, the narrator embarks on a journey ranging from seeming paradises to the depths of pure hell.

The fantastic world depicted in A Night of Serious Drinking is actually the ordinary world turned upside down. The characters are called the Anthographers, Fabricators of Useless Objects, Scienters, Nibblists, Clarificators, and other absurd titles. Yet the inhabitants of these strange realms are only too familiar: scientists dissecting an animal in a laboratory, a wise man surrounded by his devotees, politicians and poets expounding their rhetoric. These characters perform hilarious antics and intellectual games, which they see as serious attempts to find freedom and meaning.

Daumal's keen perceptions about the human condition infuse this fable with a critique of culture and consciousness that is both disquieting and enlivening. The author presents a clear, truthful language in which intense human warmth establishes and commingles two elements too often apart - poetic fervor and philsophical insolence.

To note that Daumal was a philosopher, anovelist and a scholar of religion and Sanskrit. He was mostly renowed for his avant-garde poetry which appeared in the widely read Le Grand Jeu, a literary journal he founded as a correlate movement to Surrealism.

The novelist wrote to "lead people out of the black hole of depression which our age gravitates towards, because there is light in the heart of love that steers clear of it."

A line of indelible strength struk me as hilarious and frightening as did the fictive deliberatons in their entirety. The narrator finds himself overstepping the the demarcation of intoxication and announces as he stands at the threshhold: "There are only three exits here: madness and death."
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
falling off the wagon 14 Jan. 2001
By glacier68 - Published on
Format: Paperback
I first read 'A Night' for a lit class in high school, and saved my copy, as it is one of the books that I re-read occasionally. It is such a wonderful, dense piece of satire, that it warrants a review occasionally to pick up or notice something new. With the turn of the century, I returned to the everlasting night of drinking again, and found that the Figeters, the Fabricators of useless objects, and the Clarificators are still among us, or us among them, as we soberly go through our world. As a good satire, the reader should see themself in the text, and I can't go through it without that happening (I'm a Clarificator). So, pick it up, read it, re-read it, and try to figure out if the author is an observer of patient in his allegorical world.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Astonishingly Timeless 13 Jun. 2003
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A NIGHT OF SERIOUS DRINKING is an amazing, short novel written by Rene Daumal in French in 1938 and translated into English in 1978. It has now been reissued thanks to the vision of TUSK IVORIES, a publishing house committed to restoring classic books from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, books that are profoundly important but happen to disappear off the shelves of bookstores.
Rene Daumal was a poet, writer and philosopher who preceeded the Beat Generation by twenty some years, writing about the absurdity of life as we are leading it. His title "Night.." refers metaphorically to the thirst we have to make sense of a world of endless intoxication. He introduces characters/types who drown themselves in alcohol in order to expound on fantasy ideas of the meaning of life. He then takes us on a "utopian tour" of life as a fantastical house dismembered and reassembled in a bizarre series of levels of sci-fi porportions - an artificial Paradise which peels away to a Kafkaesque, rotten core. He finally addresses the pie-in-the-sky concept of mythology and religion as a means of purification/evolution only to call forth his fellow drinking partners to wake up to the possibility of change. For all the surreal maelstrom of his intoxicated revelation of society as we are living it, Daumal makes his narrator introduce hope 'seeing the myriad atoms of possibility'.
This is a profound little book that is richly written, understands the use of metaphor, and calls us to step out of the dark hole of depression to view the 'available light' in the future. Not a one-read book, this little treasure asks to be re-visited frequently. And now, thanks to Tusk Ivories, we can.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Night of Serious Thinking 5 April 2002
By Christine Alexander - Published on
When I stumbled across this book twelve years ago at a used bookstore in Berkeley, I had no idea what I was in for...I was simply drawn to the title, and I had certainly never heard of Daumal at the tender age of 21. My favorite quote from the novelette: "There are only three exits here: madness and death." It is impossible for me to fathom that you, too, will not cherish this book beyond any other. Never before had I identified so readily with an author's depiction of the absurdity of modern humanity. Truly a treat. Out of print! Get it while you can!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Lending Literature Fraught With Peril! 20 Mar. 1999
By Bill Lamb ( - Published on
Format: Paperback
A funny surrealistic portrait of a man who's committed to a Lewis Carroll-esque journey through a insane asylum when he expresses his desire to quit drinking. In his world-gone-mad satire where people who fail to embrace the nihilistic escapism of the bottle are sent to the sanitarium for treatment, Daumal blends his poetic wit with striking hallucinatory imagery to create a novel which defies rational explanation. Unfortunately, I lent this book to a close friend a long time ago, and have since lost touch with him. I was so pleased when I'd found this book at a local public library (as you can see it's out of print) thinking I would finally have a chance to reread it after all these years. I got halfway through it that day, but unfortunately when I returned to the library to check it out (it seems you need proof of address to get a library card, I had just relocated. . , anyway), well, their copy had been stolen. Hmm. Sad? Well, It's a book that's definitely worth snatching up if you happen to run across it (note, however: stealing from public libraries is shameful and wrong).
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