Absurdist, philosophical, fabulist.
The Palafox is a creature who defies classification and makes a mockery of scientists’ quest for knowledge. From the Palafox’s first appearance, man wants to capture it, to enclose it, encase it, train it, splash it with sulphuric acid, study it, categorise it, claim its discovery as their own, and dissect it.
House him, but in what? A matchbox with 10, no 15, holes bored in its cover, or a pen, a fishtank.
Palafox is absent of plot, and thematically heavy-handed, yet its prose is playful and poetic. Chevillard’s sentences are extended, convoluted, self-correcting and circle back on themselves.
One morning at dawn, he made his cry heard, which is to say, a sort of chirping, or more of a meowing, or more of a barking, or more of a lowing, well that’s almost it, a roar, or more exactly a trumpeting, yes, that’s the word, a sort of chirping.
While slight, this wonderful curiosity is best savoured at length, rather than read in one sitting.
Spectacular translation by Wyatt Alexander Mason.
Well done publisher, Archipelago, for selecting the cover in crepuscular blue; the taller, slimmer shape than standard; French flaps and gorgeous laid paper. All of which denote this as a work of distinction.