“About Champollion I knew: that he did not go to Egypt with Napoleon, that he never saw the actual Rosetta stone, only more or less bad copies, that he suffered from gout and swollen feet like those of Oedipus, that he heard a lion’s roar in the name Cleopatra, and that he fainted in his brother’s presence when he had discovered the secret of the hieroglyphics.
“Then I learned that in the winter of 1827 he had the novels of Fenimore Cooper read to him, and in particular The Last of the Mohicans. I followed him on this novelistic path through a forest that he perhaps tried to decipher while getting interested in the manners and customs “of America’s savage nations.” I followed him to the Louvre where he had just set up the Egyptian galleries when he saw there Indians of the Osage tribe among the Greek statues and felt the sadness of the tropics in the slow cadences sung by a crouched woman.”
Gérard Macé was born in Paris in 1946. He writes unclassifiable texts that cross the lines between poem, essay, dream, biography, literary criticism, anthropology, and history. In addition to his many books he has also translated authors like Giorgio Agamben, Umberto Saba, and Thomas De Quincey and is building a photographic oeuvre. His honors include the Prix Femina-Vacaresco (1980), Prix France Culture for our present volume, Le Dernier des Égyptiens (1989), and the Académie française’s Grand Prix de Poésie for life achievement (2008).
Brian Evenson is the author of ten books of fiction, most recently the novel Last Days and the story collection Fugue State. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship. His translations include work by Jean Frémon, Claro, Jacques Jouet, Eric Chevillard, Stendhal, Manuela Draeger, Antoine Volodine. He directs Brown University’s Literary Arts Program in Providence, RI.