Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top 10 absurd classics

Michael Foley was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, but since 1972 he has lived in London, working as a Lecturer in Information Technology. He has published four novels, four collections of poetry and a collection of translations from French poetry, which have earned impressive reviews from the Guardian, New Statesman and New York Times. The Age of Absurdity is his first non-fiction book.

For the Guardian, he named a top ten list of books that best express the absurdity of the human condition. One title on the list:
Bouvard and Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert

Bouvard and Pécuchet are humble copy clerks until Bouvard unexpectedly inherits money and the two friends decide to give up work and devote themselves to acquiring knowledge. They attempt to master in turn farming, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, geology, gymnastics, spiritualism, philosophy, religion and phrenology, in each case following the best contemporary expertise, but always ending in disaster and disillusionment. In their education phase they take in the children of a convict and subject them to the latest pedagogic techniques. Resolutely resisting improvement, the children wreck the garden, smash dishes in the kitchen, steal food and money, attack their philanthropic teachers and finally boil a pet cat alive in a cooking pot.
Read about the other books on the list.

Bouvard and Pécuchet
also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best unfinished literary works and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.

--Marshal Zeringue