Synopses & Reviews
The eighteenth-century German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg left behind at the time of his death thousands of fragmentary notes commenting on a dazzling and at the same time puzzling array of subjects. Pierre Senges’s Fragments of Lichtenberg imaginatively and hilariously reconstructs the efforts of scholars across three centuries to piece together Lichtenberg’s disparate notes into a coherent philosophical or artistic statement. What emerges instead from their efforts are a wide variety of conflicting and competing Lichtenbergs – the poet, the physicist, the philosopher, the humorist – and a very funny meditation on the way interpretations and speculation create new histories and new realities.
In just over half a century, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) had the time to be all of the following: a hunchback; a mathematician; a physics professor; a connoisseur of hare pate; a hermit; an electrical theorist; a skirtchaser; a friend of King George III of England; an asthmatic; a defender of reason; a hypochondriac; a dying man; and the author of 8,000 fragments written with ink and goose quills. Traditionally those fragments have been considered no more than aphorisms, to be sipped like fine schnapps, but certain scholars claim, however, that his famous Wastebooks are really the scattered pieces of a Great Novel, and that this might yet be reconstructed, with the help of scissors, glue, and paper, and by using what is left of our imaginations. The present volume retracts, among other things, the work undertaken for more than a century by valiant Lichtenbergians.
"A sort of mildly crazed Talmud, nestling in its pages the encyclopedia of the universe, with dozens of pages of marginal notes. A giant, meandering Joycean monster, demanding, poetic, and full of humor, a succession of folds, wrinkles, and furrows, in which figures such as Seneca and Punchinello make their appearance, as well as Euclid's calculations and Lavater's physiognomy, the shadow of Snow White's eighth dwarf, and Goethe on his deathbed." Telerama
“An impressive inter-textual machine, endowed with a tremendous power of invention.” Le Nouvel Observateur
"Each book is an adventure that allows [Senges] to conquer all books, like a child, or a doe running through a forest." Libération
“This is no mere literary game: what hides behind all this is a deep observation of the links between one’s age and one’s culture; a subtle reflection on the construction of canon, schools, and literary cults that structures our idea of great literature." François Monti, The Quarterly Conversation
About the Author
Pierre Senges, born in 1968, is the author of fifteen works of fiction and essays and close to twenty radiophonic plays. He has won numerous literary prizes.