It has been a long time since I read “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa”, and yet I haven’t forgotten it. This novel, published at the turn of the 19th century, is a mixture of eccentricity, poeticism, and suspense. Written with a master’s hand, it is gripping; it cannot be put down, it is a truly unique and unforgettable work of art.
The author was a Polish aristocrat, the immensely wealthy Count Jan Potocki. Raised in France, he wrote in French. Starting out as a military man, he travelled everywhere. For a time, he was an Egyptologist, and then an ethnologist; he was in fact one of the founders of the science. He married twice.
He was the subject of many dark rumours, and over the years his behaviour became more and more bizarre. He locked himself away at his estate in Podolia. Chronically fatigued and highly unstable, and he began to believe himself a werewolf.
For months, while perfecting the third version of his masterpiece, he maniacally gnawed at the knob of his silver teapot, eventually gnawing it off. One day he slipped the tiny glittering object into his revolver, and shot himself in the head with it…