Works by the polymathic French author Victor Segalen, including a previously untranslated essay, a novel, and a libretto.
Victor Segalen (1878–1919) had one of France's most curious literary careers, applying his imagination to musicology, ethnography, exploration, medicine, synesthetics, Chinese history, and the occult. This collection gathers together his previously untranslated essay “Synesthestics and the Symbolist School” and his novel In A Sound World, a work of fantasy concerning an inventor lost in his own immersive harmonic space. Segalen's medical training (he had a career as a ship's doctor) inspired an interest in the link between the prevailing Symbolism of the time and synesthesia, the condition whereby one sense affects the perception of another.
This edition also includes an essay by the musician and cultural historian David Toop that explores the historical context of Segalen's ideas. Also included is Segalen's libretto for Orpheus Rex, a collaboration with the composer Claude Debussy, which he would use as an opportunity for further explorations of his synesthetic concepts. This book makes available all three texts for the first time in English.
About the Author
Victor Segalen, hailed by Jorge Luis Borges as one of the most brilliant writers of the age, was a polymathic author work included poetry, novels, and ethnographic essays including Steles (1912) Rene Leys (1922), and Essay on Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity, now widely considered to be important early gestures towards a new form of postcolonial interpretation.
David Toop is a musician, writer, and Professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. He is the author of Ocean of Sound, Sinister Resonance, Into the Maelstrom, and other books.