Title: Daemon in Lithuania
Author: Henri Guigonnat
Published: 1985 (originally 1973)
Language: English (translated from French)
When I had to write a piece for the Schwob website on this novel, I was fascinated … Not only by the the life of the writer, Henri Guigonnat (which is really particular indeed), but also by the story. I had read the first chapter but couldn’t read the rest for quite some time. When I finally picked it up in February I read it almost in one sitting.
In an imagined Lithuania where if it is not raining, it is probably snowing, a very odd family resides in a Neo-Gothic chateau surrounded by an overgrowth of trees, vines, and general miasmic verdure. Their lives take a drastic turn when the she-cat Daemon arrives.
Don’t expect a very plot-driven novel, nor a very clear one, in the sense that you actually always know what the writer is writing about. Half of the time I was wondering ‘does he just say this, or does he mean that …’ But it doesn’t really matter. I really enjoyed the book because it wasn’t always clear what Guigonnat was doing and was still mysteriously fascinating. If you can come up with a Gothic castle and residents that are myopic because of the omnipresent mist and/or hide tails under their petticoats, then I want to read you book. It’s as simple as that.
The only thing that bugged me was the fact that Guigonnat seemed to like his ‘…’ There are ellipses everywhere, at least one on every page and after a few it gets a little annoying. I mean, I like to use them as well, but even I know that one should use them sparingly.
That being said, I think Daemon in Lithuania deserves more readers than it now has. The book is out of print so your only chance will be in a second hand bookstore or online, but if you happen to find it: buy it.
What is you latest translated read?