A Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer

Written by Pierre Mac Orlan, translated by Napoleon Jeffries | October 31, 2013
A Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer, written by Pierre Mac Orlan, translated by Napoleon Jeffries, Wakefield Press, October 2013

Pierre Mac Orlan's 1920 Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer was at once a paean to the adventure story, a tongue-in-cheek guidebook to the genre's real-life practitioners and a grim if unspoken coda to the disasters of World War I. "It must be established as a law that adventure in itself does not exist," Mac Orlan stipulates. "Adventure is in the mind of the one who pursues it, and no sooner is he able to touch it with his finger than it vanishes, to reappear much farther off in another form, at the limits of the imagination." This handbook outlines two classes of adventurer: the active adventurer (sailors, soldiers, criminals) and the passive adventurer (sedentary parasites who draw sustenance from the exploits of the former). Roaming from battlefields to pirate ships to port-town taverns, and offering advice on reading, traveling and eroticism, Mac Orlan's Handbook is ultimately a how-to manual for the imagination, and a formulation of the stark choice all would-be adventurers must face: to live or write.


Generally known as the author of Le Quai des brumes (the basis for Marcel Carné's film of the same name), Pierre Mac Orlan (1882-1970) was a prolific writer of absurdist tales, adventure novels, flagellation erotica and essays, as well as the composer of a trove of songs made famous by the likes of Juliette Gréco. A member of both the Académie Goncourt and the Collège de Pataphysique, Mac Orlan was admired by everyone from Raymond Queneau and Boris Vian to André Malraux and Guy Debord.

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

Happy Are the Happy

The internationally acclaimed playwright and novelist Yasmina Reza stages a band of eighteen characters at war with their lives, with only humor to sustain them. A spiky, brilliantly observed novel about marriage, infidelity, dreams and disillusion.
new titles

D'UN MONDE À L'AUTRE

Gilles Clavel's new book, "Worlds" is published this month, in French and English simultaneously. It is a collection of two short stories and a novel, where love and time contend with each other. Grab a copy and explore the paths of life in French or English!
new titles

Mr. Hulot at the Beach

From Publisher's Weekly:
1/3
MORE IN books
authors on tour

Marie-Hélène/Sam Bourcier

November 5-17, 2016
US Tour
authors on tour

Pap Ndiaye

November 4-13, 2016
East Coast
authors on tour

Vinciane Despret

October 29-November 8, 2016
US Tour
authors on tour

Antoine Volodine

October 11-18, 2016
West Coast
event

Lecture on "La Cache" by Christophe Boltanski and Laura Marris

09/27/2016 | 4pm
Yale University
Whitney Humanities Center
53 Wall Street, Room 208
New Haven, CT
1/3
recomended for you
event

Hervé Tullet at the BookFest @ Bank Street

October 22 | 10:15am
Bank Street College of Education
610 West 112th Street, New York NY, 10025
event

Proust's Muse, The Countess Greffulhe at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Sept 23, 2016 - Jan 7, 2017
Fashion Institute of Technology
227 W 27th St
New York, NY 10001