10 October 2014

Albert Cossery: Cimetière du Montparnasse #18

'ALBERT
COSSERY
1913 . 2008'


This then is the grave of Albert Cossery, although it's really just a slab of concrete that appears to be waiting, and I assume it's just been more or less waiting like this since Cossery died almost six years ago. There's just the plaque and a few tributes left by friends and/or admirers:


Albert Cossery was one of my fascinating literary discoveries of last year, whose existence I learned of in Frédéric Beigbeder's Premier bilan aprés l'apocalypse, in which he lists one hundred books to be saved from a literary apocalypse. One of these is Cossery's Les Couleurs de l'infamie (1999), his last novel. Beigbeder mentions the people Cossery knew, such as Sartre and Beauvoir, Vian, Camus, Genet, Henry Miller, etc, and says he often used to sit on the terrace of the Bar du Marché and watch Cossery going into La Louisiane, the hotel he lived in for sixty years, (and where he died at the age of 94).

Elsewhere on this blog I wrote my impressions of Beigbeder's book, and was particularly impressed by what he says here:

'As with all of [Cossery's] books, he praises laziness, condemns the rich with their possessions, and only respects beggars, outsiders, the poor. For him, these are the only free humans. [...] [L]et's stop classing the unemployed as handicapped when they are gods!' (My translation.)

Obviously I had to acquaint myself with Cossery's work. I've just read Un complot de saltimbanques (1975) to begin, and shall be posting my impressions of this amazing novel tomorrow.

ADDENDUM: I'm unsure about that pot pansy: in French the word for the flower is pensée, which also means 'thought': but the person who put it there presumably didn't know that Cossery couldn't stand flowers, and according to his biographer Frédéric Andrau there wasn't a single one at his funeral.
 
My other Cossery posts:

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Frédéric Andrau: Monsieur Albert: Cossery, une vie
Albert Cossery: Proud Beggars
Albert Cossery: A Splendid Conspiracy
Albert Cossery: The Colors of Infamy
Albert Cossery: Men God Forgot

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