On Long Ago ("Sur le jadis"), by Pascal Quignard
In Sur le jadis, Pascal Quignard blends genres to educate the reader via his memories and thoughts on the meaning and value of the past.
A formal explorer
Born in 1948, Pascal Quignard is one of the most prolific French authors. He came to the attention of the literary community in 1969, after the publication of The Stammering Being (“L'Être du balbutiement”), dedicated to historian and journalist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The general public discovered him with the publication of The Wurtemberg Salon (“Le Salon du Wurtemberg”) (1986) and The Chambord Stairs (“Les Escaliers de Chambord”) (1989).
Since then, his oeuvre has grown to include novels, essays, treaties and articles, as well as fairytales, artist biographies, performances and screenwriting – to adapt his novel All the World's Mornings (“Tous les matins du monde, 1991) for the screen with Alain Corneau. Also a musician, Pascal Quignard co-founded the Versailles Baroque opera and theatre festival.
In 2002, the author won the Prix Goncourt for The Wandering Shadows (“Les Ombres errantes”), the first volume of Last Kingdom (“Dernier Royaume”), of which Sur le jadis (2002) is the second work.
A reflection on the past
Sur le jadis offers a taste of Pascal Quignard’s rich oeuvre. Dialogues, tales, essays, lists, journals, fragments from novels follow one after the other, alternating between chapters just a few lines long and much longer ones.
Throughout the work the author develops a poetic meditation, punctuated by metaphors and memories, on the meaning of the past. The reader follows Pascal Quignard as he explores the facets of the “jadis”, meaning “long ago”, – a past that exists only in myths and dream.
The second volume of 9
Sur le jadis is the second of the nine tomes that make up the Dernier Royaume to date. The work is in the footsteps of Petits Traités, written between 1977 and 1980, where the author breaks with the tradition of the novel and where, as he himself says, "all genres have fallen".
Speaking of the entire work, Pascal Quignard declares that “it is a little attempt to think about everything”, in which he explores three major axes, in all their depth and breadth –fragments, temporality and identity – to produce a global vision without judgement.
Translations all aver the world
Sur le jadis was translated into Korean in 2010, then into Japanese and German in 2016 – the German daily Die Welt describing Pascal Quignard as the author who "makes contemporary French literature interesting again" upon receiving his Goncourt Prize in 2002.
All the world’s mornings has been translated into more than 30 languages, across five continents.
Sur le jadis has been translated, with the support of the Institut français, into Japanese and Spanish.
Through its translation support programmes, the Institut français participates in the global dissemination of French-language literature.