The Conductor and Other Tales

Written by Jean Ferry, illustrated by Claude Ballaré and translated by Edward Gauvin | November 30, 2013
The Conductor and Other Tales, by Jean Ferry, illustrated by Claude Ballaré and translated by Edward Gauvin, Wakefield Press, November 2013

First published in French in 1950 in a limited edition of 100 copies, then republished in 1953 (and enthusiastically praised by André Breton), The Conductor and Other Tales is Jean Ferry's only published book of fiction. It is a collection of short prose narratives that offer a blend of pataphysical humor and surreal nightmare: secret societies so secret that one cannot know if one is a member or not, music-hall acts that walk a tightrope from humor to horror, childhood memories of a man never born, and correspondence from countries that are more states of mind than geographical locales. Lying somewhere between Kafka's parables and the prose poems of Henri Michaux, Ferry's tales read like pages from the journal of a stranger in a familiar land. Though extracts have appeared regularly in Surrealist anthologies over the decades, The Conductor has never been fully translated into English until now. This edition includes four stories not included in the original French edition and is illustrated throughout with collages by Claude Ballaré.

Jean Ferry (1906-1974) made his living as a screenwriter for such filmmakers as Luis Buñuel and Louis Malle, cowriting such classics as Henri-Georges Clouzot's Le Quai des orfèvres and script-doctoring Marcel Carné's Les Enfants du paradis. He was the first serious scholar and exegete of the work of Raymond Roussel (on whom he published three books) and a member of the Collège de Pataphysique.

More info

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
Sign in or register to post comments.

More new titles

new titles


"Sphinx" is the debut novel of the inventive French author Anne Garréta, one of the few female members of OuLiPo. This influential and experimental French literary group aims to create literature based on mathematical and linguistic restraints.
new titles

Decadence of Industrial Democracies

Bernard Stiegler is one of the most original philosophers writing today about new technologies and their implications for social, political and personal life. Drawing on sources ranging from Plato and Marx to Freud, Heidegger and Derrida, he develops a highly original account of technology as grammatology, as a technics of writing that constitutes our experience of time, memory and desire, even of life itself. Society and our place within it are shaped by technical reproduction which can both expand and restrict the horizons and possibilities of human agency and experience.
new titles


Attachment explores the obsessive relationship of love, observing both mother and daughter under its magnifying glass.
MORE IN books

Pôle Emploi, ne quittez pas! Nora Philippe, John Krinsky, Frédéric Viguier

Dec 2, 2015 | 6:15 pm
La Maison Française New York University
16 Washington Mews
New York, NY 10003

Nomadic Crossroads: Algerian Poetry Now with Samira Negrouche

Dec 2, 2015 | 6 pm
Columbia Maison Française Buell Hall
515 W. 116th Street
Buell Hall, 2nd Floor, MC 4990
New York, NY 10027

French Literature Nights in NYC: The "Rentrée littéraire"

Dec 2, 2015 | 6 pm
Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street,
New York

Freud Committee For Another Look at the Psychoanalysis’ Father Work

Dec 4-6, 2015
New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
247 East 82nd Street - New York, NY 10028
authors on tour

François Hartog

Spring 2015, Dates TBC

French Literature in the Making: Laurent Seksik and Olivier Barrot

Dec 7, 2015 | 7 pm
La Maison Française New York University
16 Washington Mews
New York, NY 10003