On Elegance While Sleeping


On Elegance While Sleeping

On Elegance While Sleeping
by Viscount Lascano Tegui
Dalkey Archive, 2010
174 pages / $13.95  Buy from Dalkey Archive or Amazon








“There are intellects notable for their prodigious memory and then others simply inspired by the great chaos of the imagination. My own superiority stems from nothing so much as my own powers of observation. I’m a product of myself. I’ve seen the world through the poor little prism of my eyes. No, I never made use of borrowed eyes. And that’s why it was—through observation, a reflexive way of looking—that I always kept myself at a distance from my friends, kept aloof from my teachers.” – Viscount Lascano Tegui, On Elegance While Sleeping


On Elegance While Sleeping is a decadent and deranged Argentinean novel, first published in 1922 and spanning four years in the life of an aesthete whose fluid diary entries function as a recollection of dreams, memories, visions, sexual fantasies, mundane observations, musings on death and the animal kingdom. These vignettes have the cumulative effect of a fractured psyche indulging in its own incompleteness. Sinister and surreal, each locution is touched by the flavor of elegance. It is a fantastic and dark marvel of a libertine’s fractured psyche, a damaged consciousness. Tegui’s novel feels like a spiritual cousin to Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet and Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, these short and intensely interior novels deal in the anguish and ecstasy of poetry and isolation. Tegui writes, “Novelists overplay their hands when they put an end to their characters with some catastrophe—a terrible fire, a murder, what have you. They don’t trust in the asphyxiating monotony of everyday life.” But this novel has a darkness and subversive element that extends beyond sheer idleness, making it feel like the Argentinean counterpart to such subversive decadent classics as Maldoror, Aurélia, and A Rebours.


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May 28th, 2012 / 12:00 pm