An uncovered novel from the world’s greatest lyricist, Leonard Cohen
An unprecedented glimpse into the formation of the legendary talent of Leonard Cohen.
Before the celebrated late-career world tours, before the Grammy awards, before the chart-topping albums, before ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘So Long, Marianne’ and ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, the young Leonard Cohen wrote poetry and fiction and yearned for literary stardom. In A Ballet of Lepers, readers will discover that the magic that animated Cohen’s unforgettable body of work was present from the very beginning.
Written between 1956 in Montreal, just as Cohen was publishing his first poetry collection, and 1961, when he’d settled on Greece’s Hydra island, the pieces in this collection offer startling insight into Cohen’s imagination and creative process, and explore themes that would permeate his later work, from shame and unworthiness to sexual desire to longing, whether for love, family, freedom or transcendence.
The titular novel, A Ballet of Lepers – one he later remarked was ‘probably a better novel’ than his celebrated book The Favourite Game – is a haunting examination of these elements, while the fifteen stories, as well as the playscript, probe the inner demons of his characters, many of whom could function as stand-ins for the author himself.
Meditative, surprising, playful and provocative, A Ballet of Lepers is vivid in its detail, unsparing in its gaze, and reveals the great artist and visceral genius like never before.
“Praise for The Flame: The last word in love and despair … Full of youthful spark, beauty and romance … Elegantly and posthumously published … Leonard Cohen does not use language to pose, startle or reinvent. Words are his old comrades, and see him through to the end”
observer, Poetry Book Of The Month
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“Cohen was a poet before he was a musician, and with this posthumous collection his career completes its circle. Encompassing poems and lyrics written in his last decade, as well as self-portraits and notebook extracts, the book is introduced by his son Adam Cohen”
financial Times, Best Poetry Books Of 2018
“Cohen’s enduring, beautiful bleakness is the draw here. His gift for understated melancholia is on each blackening page”
daily Mail, Best Books Of 2018
“We’ll be listening to Cohen – still smirking and smiling – for decades to come, with this collection as our companion”
“For his final publication, he left almost nothing to chance … The Flame shows the emphasis that Cohen put on distillation … Included in various proportions are love, sex, death, regret, exaltation, piety and gentle fondness. The blending of the earthy with the spiritual would give John Donne and Marvin Gaye a run for their money”
Leonard Cohen’s artistic career began in 1956 with the publication of his first book of poetry, Let Us Compare Mythologies. He published two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers, and ten previous books of poetry, including Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs and Book of Longing. During a recording career that spanned almost fifty years, he released fourteen studio albums, the last of which, You Want It Darker, was released in 2016. Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature and the Glenn Gould Prize in 2011. He died on November 7, 2016.