The Manuscript Found in Saragossa
I discovered this book the wrong way around-I picked up a VHS of the movie because it come with recommendations by Scorsese and Coppola on the cover. An ingenious twisted Polish new wave classic awaited me! But the book? Of course the book is even better than the movie, more otherworldly, sly-er, smarter, more hilarious and deeply moving.
—Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
Alphonse, a young Walloon officer, is traveling to join his regiment in Madrid in 1739. But he soon finds himself mysteriously detained at a highway inn in the strange and varied company of thieves, brigands, cabbalists, noblemen, coquettes and gypsies, whose stories he records over sixty-six days. The resulting manuscript is discovered some forty years later in a sealed casket, from which tales of characters transformed through disguise, magic and illusion, of honor and cowardice, of hauntings and seductions, leap forth to create a vibrant polyphony of human voices. Jan Potocki (1761-1812) used a range of literary styles – gothic, picaresque, adventure, pastoral, erotica – in his novel of stories-within-stories, which, like The Decameron and Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, provides entertainment on an epic scale.