23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Weird and Wonderful,
This review is from: The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Imagine a book written by Edgar Allen Poe, translated by Edward Fitzgerald, filtered through the consciousness of Jorge Luis Borges, and you would have some inkling of what makes this extraordinary book so special. It is to literature what surrealism is to painting. Potocki, who on the strength of this book alone qualifies as Poland's greatest literary figure, prefigures the postmodern movement with his sleight-of-hand and multi-multi-layered text. A Freudian could spend years investigating the recesses and depths of Potocki's subconscious.
The framing device is a young nobleman's romantic wanderings through a section of Spain that could exist only in the mind of someone who was none too selective about his/her diet, or the kind of herbs they decided to ingest. A grotesque and lurid air suffuses this imaginative tale. The plot, if it could be called such a thing, unfolds like a chinese puzzle, one unreliable narrative nested within another. ...It wends its way into your thoughts like an ear-boring worm. It is the sort of work that Danielewski attempted, rather feebly by comparison, in his novel, House of Leaves. Potocki combines the supernatural with the erotic in a way that is unique in literature. Open the pages of this book and prepare to be disturbed and unsettled at times, but be prepared also to engage in a long, strange, diverting trip.
By the way there is a CD of a movie version of Manuscript which was made in Europe in the 60s. Apparently it has been shown periodically in San Francisco art houses, and was appreciated by Jerry Garcia, among others. If the movie even approximates the book, I could understand why.