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Suicide (French Literature) (French Literature Series) Paperback – 19 Apr 2011

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (19 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564786285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564786289
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 566,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Suicide is not a fictionalized account of Levé s death; in some respects it is a negative image of it. You didn t leave any letters for loved ones to explain your death, he writes, although Levé himself reportedly did. Levé s art and life nonetheless converge, fuse, and end brutally together. Ironically, Suicide represents a new departure for Levé: his previous books could be considered conceptual conceits, whereas Suicide is something else, a purely literary work. At the end of his life, Levé had by no means exhausted his art. --Hugo Wilcken - The Berlin Review of Books

"an astonishing novel.." --Zadie Smith, Harper's Magazine

"an astonishing novel.." --Zadie Smith, Harper's Magazine

Suicide shows another side of the French artist's interest in transfixing phenomena. Since suicide normally takes place behind a curtain of privacy even more exclusionary than the one reserved for sex, its ability to drum up interest is assured. --Christopher Byrd, Guardian

About 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. Jan Steyn is a South African translator from French and Afrikaans to English. He lives in Paris where he does work in Cultural Translation at the American University of Paris.

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Format: Paperback
'Suicide' is a short novel in the form of a memoir. The narrator remembers - and addresses, writing throughout in the second person - a friend who committed suicide at the age of twenty-five. Over the course of the book a composite, oblique portrait is built up of a young man who has lost - or failed to develop - any meaningful sense of connection to life, and whose early death by his own hand is a natural consequence of his mode of existence.

Levé writes with clarity and detachment: the effect is of a classical restraint, even when violent events are being described. I found the book moving and remarkably clear-sighted. It reads beautifully in Jan Steyn's English version.

The novel appeared in French in 2008. Its reception was coloured, perhaps irretrievably, by the fact that Levé himself committed suicide (at the greater age of forty-two) a few days after he handed the manuscript to his publisher. Given that Dalkey Archive have chosen to print this information on the back cover, it is almost impossible to read the book unaware of that fact. Nonetheless, this is not a mere document of a suicidal state of mind: it is a genuine, carefully-crafted work of fiction as well as a meditation on the significance of suicide that deserves serious attention alongside the work of Jean Améry and others.

118 pages of text, and a short Afterword by the translator.
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I recommend this to people who wonders about suicide like what happens before and after the suicide...I found the story good because it provides an insight to a suicidal person's mind and also an observer's point of view to the suicide.I could relate to most parts of the story and it's certainly a read that leaves you thinking afterwards. It's quite a short and easy read and has no chapters.It's written in an unusual manner...almost like random thought. But basically,the main reason I bought the book is because the author took his own life 10 days after sending this book to his publisher.I was curious of his state of mind at that point and wanted to see from his point of view of life and death and to what made him make the choice of committing suicide. You won't get any clear cut answers but the book doesn't leave you disappointed either.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f2bcbd0) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fd21fe4) out of 5 stars Outstanding read! 12 Feb. 2014
By Shirley Musich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
That suicide totally reshaped how people view the person--backwards from the event--is so true. Leve has a unique way of exploring as an observer how one makes the choice, plans and then executes that plan and then how those left behind deal with the choice. That the pain of living outweighs the uncertainty of what happens after death is ultimately the choice that the person who commit suicide makes. Very thought provoking!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01ad840) out of 5 stars excellent expolration into the strangeness of suicude 11 Aug. 2011
By J. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a survivor of suicide, brother in law and a dear friend, I found this book to be a perfect insight into the mind of the grieving of suicide, the flashes of memory and its investigative narrative lend to it a stunning and often relateable quality. My only complaint is that I cannot read it in the original french but this translation is so well written I would have believed it was written in English proper.
It is not a standard book, there are no chapters and it has a flowing narrative. I would recommend to my most literate friends and all those I know who have walked the path of the narrator.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01ad744) out of 5 stars Robert Pinget? 14 Feb. 2012
By R. M. Diguette - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I recently heard Jan Steyn read an excerpt from his elegant translation of Leve's book. It reminded me of Robert Pinget's Passacaglia in some respects, which is really the only reason why I am posting this comment. Pinget, in my opinion, is a major French avante garde writer who is still largely unknown.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, this book is pretty much what the description says. The writer takes a very good outlook at the thought process of a denigrating man. He hurts, hides, and loves. Its simple, yet good. Highly recommended to anyone who has been touched by suicide, as I myself have.
HASH(0xa01807bc) out of 5 stars Five Stars 20 Aug. 2014
By K - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderfully dark, in a way I couldn't have predicted. If death and complex misery interests you, go for it.
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