A Night of Serious Drinking: A Novel
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A Night of Serious Drinking is among Rene Daumal's most important literary works. Like Daumal's Mount Analogue it is a classic work of symbolic fiction. An unnamed narrator spends an evening getting drunk with a group of friends.; as the party becomes intoxicated and exuberant, the narrator embarks on a journey that ranges from seeming paradises to the depths of pure hell. The fantastic world depicted in A Night of Serious Drinking is actually the ordinary world turned upside down. The characters are called the Anthographers, Fabricators of useless objects, Scienters, Nibblists, Clarificators, and other absurd titles. Yet the inhabitants of these strange realms are only too familiar: scientists dissecting an animal in their laboratory, a wise man surrounded by his devotees, politicians, poets expounding their rhetoric. These characters perform hilarious antics and intellectual games, which they see as serious attempts to find meaning and freedom.
that they were allowed) and with the walls shaking with the laughter they found difficult to control, I walk between two rows of iron bedsteads which held patients who were sick, wounded, had gone mad, or been dried out, in a word, anybody who had insisted on leaving. 2 A large, scruffy orderly appeared, flashed me a toothless grin and started to explain: “You are now in the accident ward. As its name suggests the casualties here were drawn by accidental causes to try and escape or to believe
task is to transmute the base words of daily intercourse into a language which is not of this world, which is subject neither to the useful nor the pleasant. Our forebears spoke and sang but many refrained from writing. They believed that writing was something they did afterwards to record the poems they had created or to preserve the general themes and stories on which they improvised. And so a mere skeleton was all that survived of their ephemeral work. But we, on the other hand, do not speak:
eye open for those producers who can satisfy him: they help the one to find nourishment and the others to acquire outlets for their goods. But, as you have already had occasion to observe, in our world, everything is back to front.” 22 We passed over a host of secondary types of Fabricators. My guide would have dearly loved to drag me into a vast factory where some people were making films for the cinema, but what I glimpsed of it when he opened the door revolted me so much that I wished to
aren’t lagging behind,” said the Primepwatt. “One of my protégés, a few years ago, put to his fellow members the question: ‘Why do you write?’ and the substance of almost all the answers was: ‘in order to express ourselves’ or ‘we cannot do otherwise.’ One even replied ‘because I’m weak,’ although he could put together quite magnificently words whose sparkling tail, he said more or less, was then bitten again by a worm which he himself had just bitten. Only one dared to say cynically that he
quotes Daumal’s own comments about his book: “The leaps in tone are deliberate—it was for me an experiment; I didn’t want to be dominated by a tone, a style, so I ventured a work in three distinct tones, dominant in each of the three sections respectively.”34 The rasa of the overall composition seems to be comedy-parody with a subtle mixture of seriousness, mock heroic, tragedy, and faint optimism. He achieves a kind of realistic surrealism by juxtaposing the nebulous atmosphere of the dream