The Happiness of Little Fish
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From 2005 to 2006, essays about art by Simon Leys appeared in the prestigious Magazine Littéraire. Month after month, Leys considered an aspect of art and modern life, filtered through his deep knowledge of Chinese literature and philosophy.
To the great joy of his readers, Leys has collected the Magazine Littéraire essays in The Happiness of Little Fish. He contemplates the relationships writers have with their work, the art of understatement, criticism, and writer’s block. He uses references to literature and Chinese philosophy—Leys is in an expert in Chinese studies—to illuminate art and to chronicle modern life. Each essay is a gem, the glowing facets often unexpected: a paradoxical examination of Paul LaFargue’s Éloge de la paresse (In Praise of Laziness), a discussion of Mozart’s obsession with death, the best books to take on a polar expedition, novelist Joseph Conrad’s seasickness, and, of course, the happiness of little fish.
Simon Leys : Simon Leys is the pen name of Pierre Rykmans, a writer, sinologist, and literary critic. The author of many books on the Cultural Revolution in China, he has also translated works from the Chinese such as Analects of Confucius (Norton, 1997) and Le préfet Yin by Chen Jo-hsi (Denoël, 1980). His works translated into English include The Burning Forest: Essays on Culture and Politics in Contemporary China (Henry Holt & Co., 1983), The Chairman’s New Clothes: Mao and the Cultural Revolution (Allison and Busby, 1981), The Death of Napoleon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992) and The Wreck of the Batavia: A True Story (Basic Books, 2005).