- Author: Larbaud, Valery
- Binding: Paperback
- Pages: 320
- Size: 5 x 8"
- Pub. Year: 1990
- ISBN: 0-929701-15-1
- In Stock: Yes
Also Available in Clothbound: Add to CartTranslated from the French by Gilbert Cannan.
Introduction by Robert Kelly.
Published in France in 1913, and in the United States in 1924, The Diary of A.O. Barnabooth is rightly considered one of the first truly original books of the century. Larbaud's novel transforms the traditional "novel of education" into a comic, cosmopolitan search for "self realization." Barnabooth's adventures ricochet from Florence to San Marino, Venice, Trieste, Moscow, Sarajevo, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen. and London, as he strives to solve his spiritual, that is amatory, difficulties.
Here is the prototype of the 20th-century jetsetter, a fabulously wealthy 24-year-old on a free-for-all Grand Tour through the European capitals. Barnabooth is a naive yet brashly opinionated South American who casts about for a new identity with an almost scientific rigor -- an intensity all the more humorous for the swings between self-delusion and revelation that are so faithfully recorded in a diary that is destined from the start for publication. Barnabooth is essentially a character from Wilde advanced into the 20th century, full of optimism for the future, scorn for the musty generation just passed, and yet subject to the erosion of confidence that marks the psychologies of the characters of Gide, Proust, and Kafka. This is a book that transforms the "novel of education" with a new persona and employs a "stream of consciousness" interior monologue in perhaps its first modern instance. As Justin O'Brien has noted, "[Barnabooth] suffers a progressive loss of illusions... And every time he approaches a decision or a judgment he interrupts himself to dissect his thought and determine just what percentage of vanity, of self-deceit, or of affectation has entered into it."
"This beguiling novel [originally published in 1924] traces the misadventures and romantic exploits of the 23-year-old A.O. Barnabooth... as he wanders across pre-World War I Europe by train. Barnabooth has liquidated his fortune to pursue a luxurious, existentialist life, meditating on himself and the world, listening to stories told by chance companions, living out of a single suitcase -- albeit one filled with currency."
-- Washington Post Book World
In France, Valery Larbaud occupies an important position in 20th century literature. Born in Vichy in 1881, he taught himself six languages at an early age and set out to bring world literature into French. He was the first to translate Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Butler,...