A Ballet of Lepers
A Novel and Stories
- McClelland & Stewart
- Initial publish date
- Oct 2022
- Literary, Short Stories (single author), Canadian
- Publish Date
- Oct 2022
- List Price
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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.
About the author
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 books of poetry in his lifetime, including Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs and Book of Longing. His latest poetry collection, The Flame, was published posthumously in 2018. 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.
Praise for A Ballet of Lepers:
“Cohen’s life and art have been dissected for years, but as this revealing volume proves, there are still new shades of him to discover.”—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
“An enthralling collection of work written in the 1950s and ’60s, as complex and dark as [Cohen’s] lyrics . . . Cohen writes brilliantly of desire and cruelty as his desperate characters yearn for connection. This is magnificent.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for Leonard Cohen and The Flame:
“There are very, very few people who occupy the ground that Leonard Cohen walks on. This is our Shelley, this is our Byron.”—Bono
“A posthumous balm . . . All of Cohen’s work has a raw, straight-to-the-heart intensity―reach for this the next time you need inspiration for a wedding toast that will leave them gutted, or any other moment you need a little sustenance for the soul.”—Vogue
“[The Flame] is . . . a kaleidoscopic archive, a mix-tape of emotions that reveals Cohen’s fears and vulnerability with an unusually raw candour. After 10 books of poetry and two novels, it reminds us that the music man who taught the world to scale the chords of Hallelujah still considered writing his first and ultimate vocation.” —Maclean’s
“Leonard Cohen does not use language to pose, startle or to reinvent. Words are his old comrades, and see him through to the end.” —The Guardian
“The Flame is Leonard Cohen’s parting gift to the world. And like the best gifts, it’s thoughtful, nicely packaged and contains an element of surprise.” —Ottawa Citizen
“In the pages of The Flame, Leonard Cohen feels more present than ever.” —Gazette (Montreal)