The Mausoleum of Lovers
The long-awaited English-language translation of Hervé Guibert’s arresting journals
|Dimensions||5.5 × 1.5 × 8 in|
The Mausoleum of Lovers comprises Guibert’s journals, kept from 1976–1991. Functioning as an atelier, it forecasts the writing of a novel, which does not materialize as such; the journal itself — a mausoleum of lovers — comes to take its place. The sensual exigencies and untempered forms of address in this epistolary work, often compared to Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, use the letter and the photograph in a work that hovers between forms, in anticipation of its own disintegration.
To get Guibert’s full message, which isn’t light-years apart from Susan Sontag’s and Frank O’Hara’s New York–based credos (pay attention, live as variously as possible) but that chose for its transmission not the lyric or the essay but the autofiction, the fragmentary self-articulation, casual as a snapshot, would involve questioning straitened notions of what constitutes a polished piece of writing, or a life’s work, or an autobiography, or a sexuality, or a successful venture—and learning, instead, to appreciate the cadences of catastrophe, of self-excavating improvisation, and of unknowingness. Futility and botched execution are the immortal matter of Guibert’s method. Futility and botched execution—combined, in Guibert’s work, with finesse, concision, and a heavy dose of negative capability, which includes curiosity about the worst things that can befall a body—are undying aesthetic and spiritual values, worth cherishing in any literature we dare to call our own.