The Novices of Lerna (Paperback)


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The Novices of Lerna By Ángel Bonomini, Jordan Landsman (Translator) Cover Image

The Novices of Lerna (Paperback)

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The Novices of Lerna has one of the truest depictions of dissociation I’ve read anywhere. It isn’t a trans novel, necessarily, but it sure isn’t not.

Our protagonist, Raymón Beltra, travels from Argentina to Switzerland only to discover the fellowship he was offered wasn’t for his lackluster university work. It was because he is in a group of twenty-four men who are his exact doppelganger (or he, theirs). What follows, including a deadly epidemic and an occupation, is all filtered through the strangeness of seeing oneself in the third person, refracted again and again.

It is a singular experience, seeing yourself exist; it is edifying if also alienating to read through it.
The remainder of the book collects some of Bonomini’s short stories, like “The CCC,” about a coffee shop chain that may all be one location, or “The Report,” about a revolutionary junta who believes time is moving in reverse. From that, an example of Bonomini’s concise, playful prose: “Let’s face it: History is prediction and clairvoyance is History.” Which is to say: there’s a lot of fun to be had here, too.

— Bee

For the first time in English, a forgotten masterpiece from an enigmatic master of Argentine fantastic literature.
The Novices of Lerna introduces the enigmatic fictions of ngel Bonomini to English readers for the first time. Shot through with wry humor and tender absurdity, these meditations on identity, surveillance, and isolation remain eerily prescient.
The collection's central novella follows Ram n Beltra, an unambitious scholar who receives a mysterious invitation to a lucrative six-month fellowship at the University of Lerna in Switzerland. After he reluctantly complies with the unusual qualifying paperwork requiring several pages of detailed measurements and photographs of his entire body, Beltra soon finds himself in the deserted university town of Lerna, together with twenty-three other "novices" subject to the same undisclosed project--all of them doppelgangers of Beltra himself. At first, Beltra is the only one to bristle at the school's dizzying array of rules and regulations, but this all changes with the onset of an uncontrollable epidemic, and the fellows begin dying off one by one...An overlooked master of Argentine fantastic literature, ngel Bonomini garnered praise among peers and contemporaries like Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares, before slipping mysteriously into obscurity. Born in Buenos Aires in 1929, Bonomini was forty-three years old in 1972 when he published The Novices of Lerna, the first of four books of short stories he released before his death at age sixty-four.
Product Details ISBN: 9781945492853
ISBN-10: 1945492856
Publisher: Transit Books
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 200
Language: English