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The Eleven

Written by Pierre MichonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Pierre Michon
Translated by Elizabeth DeshaysAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Elizabeth Deshays and Jody GladdingAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jody Gladding

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In The Eleven, Michon lets us into the world of Corentin, a painter shaoed by—and who eventually shapes—history. Brought up among provincial aristocracy to become a favorite of Parisian society—his paintings are commissioned by Louis XV’s mistress—Corentin’s career rides the Tides of the French Revolution. His masterpiece, "The Eleven," is an enigmatic Last Supper, representing the eleven members of the Committee of Public Safety (including Robespierre and Saint Just) during the Reign of Terror. Corentin and company, his work of art, and the historical tableau of the French Revolution come to life in dazzling, even painterly, detail. A potent blend of fact and fiction, The Eleven is a beautifully written, astute meditation on the nature of history itself and the artist’s role in it.

Excerpt

He was not tall, unobtrusive, but he held your attention with his fever- ish silence, his dark cheer, his alternately arrogant and oblique manner – grim, as they said. At least that was how he was seen later in life. None of that appears on the Würzburg ceilings, on the south wall of the Kaisersaal to be precise, in the wedding procession of Frederick Barbarossa, in the portrait Tiepolo left of him, when the model was twenty years old: he is there, so they say, and you can go see him, perched among a hundred princes, a hundred constables and ushers, as many slaves and merchants, porters, putti and animals, gods, merchan- dise, clouds, the four seasons and the four continents, and two incon- testable painters, the ones who assembled the world that way in its exhaustive recension and are nevertheless of the world, Giambattista
Praise

Praise

A brilliant, surprising book, "The Eleven" is historical fiction at its best: a wholly imagined work that scrutinizes and reconceives how we construct history, time and experience. — Martin Riker, The Wall Street Journal

It will bring you to your knees. —Le Nouvel Observateur

An astonishingly rich, mythic new direction in modern French narrative. —Guy Davenport

Reading Small Lives, I felt profoundly that Michon was carrying on the mark of a true writer: one who speaks in his own voice while conveying with all its immediacy and flesh-and-blood possibility of what it means to be human. —The Review of Contemporary Fiction

The emotion, the forceful claims of the imagery . . . Michon achieves what other writers wouldn’t try, licensed as he is by keen regret and transfigured loss. Michon misses the poetry of the past, and in missing it he possesses it. —Benjamin Lytal Michon’s prose tends to slow down in order to oblige you to hear its rhythms and also to see and touch and smell what is happening beneath it. —Harper’s Magazine

Michon describes with such precision, with such force, that you start to think [it] exists. —Liberation

[Michon's] aesthetic integrity and strict austerity have earned him the adoration of critics and made him worth teaching in every university. —L'Express

A great book that, in an honest language, honed with gueuloir, was delivered to the world after years of labor, says the story. —Le Magazine Litteraire

This limpid, beautifully understated novel, winner of the French Academy’s Grand Prix duRoman, recounts the rise from humble origins of painter François-Élie Corentin, who eventually produces a masterpiece called The Eleven that represents the members of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror.  Library Journal (Best Fiction in Translation 2013)

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