Jan Potocki - Author
Ian MacLean - Translator
The traveller, aristocratic adventurer, political activist, ethnographer and publisher Jan Potocki (1761-1815) is a legendary figure in Poland, not least for his literary masterpiece The Manuscript Found in Saragossa.
The novel's narrator Alphonse van Worden, a young Walloon officer journeying to join his regiment in Madrid in 1739, is diverted into the Sierra Morena and mysteriously detained in the company of thieves, cannibalists, noblemen and gypsies whose stories he records for us as he hears them, day by day over a period of sixty-six days.
The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, which has counted Alexander Pushkin among its many admirers, was published only in part in its author's lifetime, and thereafter has only been known fully through a Polish translation which appeared long after his death; controversy still rages over the original French text and the meaning to be attributed to it. A novel of stories-within-stories, it combines the picaresque with gothic horror and the supernatural, wit with erotic lyricism and inventiveness and, like the Decameron and the One Thousand and One Nights, it offers entertainment on an epic scale.