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Brother of the Above

J.-B. Pontalis | Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith | March 15, 2013

Since 1980, J.-B. Pontalis has been writing works of a literary nature, often with autobiographical resonances. Brother of the Above is no exception for a clear subtext is the author’s ongoing “self-analysis.”Biographical dictionaries used often to place the less important of two brothers below the more important, describing the former as “brother of the above.” Pontalis’s subject is pairs of brothers in life and literature, renowned or anonymous — not least himself and his elder brother. Ever since Cain and Abel, jealousy and murderous rivalry between brothers have wreaked havoc. Pontalis’ book asks if the destructive force of this relationship inevitably overwhelm the hope for human survival embodied in the usual meaning of “fraternity”? From Van Gogh to Flaubert, from the Goncourts to the Champollions, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Marcel Proust, Pontalis passes a host of brothers in review in search of an answer; in search, too, of deliver ance from his own brother’s shadow.

More info: The Unconscious in Translation