The Spirits of the Earth

Catherine Colomb

Translated by John Taylor


5 x 8 inches, 252pp. September 2016

ISBN : 9780857423726

Rs  595.00 (HB)
$24.50 (HB)
£17.00 (HB)

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Catherine Colomb is known as one of the most unusual and inventive francophone novelists of the twentieth century. Fascinated by the processes of memory and consciousness, she has been compared to that of Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust. The Spirits of the Earth is the first English translation of Colomb’s work and its arrival introduces new readers to an iconic novel.

At heart a family drama, The Spirits of the Earth is set at the Fraidaigue château, along the shores of Lake Geneva, and in the Maison d’en Haut country mansion, located in the hills above the lake. In these luxe locales, readers encounter upper-class characters with faltering incomes, parvenues and even ghosts. Throughout, Colomb builds a psychologically penetrating and bold story in which the living and the dead intermingle and in which time itself is a mystery.


Catherine Colomb has long been considered one of the most original writers of twentieth-century Switzerland. Except for stays, in her youth, in Weimar, Potsdam, Berlin, Paris and London (where she met members of the Bloomsbury Circle), Colomb spent her entire life in the canton of Vaud, living in Yverdon-les-Bains, Lausanne and Prilly. It is known that she read Balzac, Hölderlin, Jean Paul and especially Proust, as well as, late in life, Virginia Woolf. But she fashioned her exceptional style and formally innovative fictions in relative isolation.


John Taylor has translated major selections of the poetry and poetic prose of Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Philippe Jaccottet, José-Flore Tappy, Jacques Dupin and Louis Calaferte. As a critic, he is the author of Into the Heart of European Poetry (2008), A Little Tour through European Poetry (2014) and the three- volume Paths to Contemporary French Literature (2003–11). He has also writ- ten seven books of stories, short prose and poetry, the latest of which is If Night is Falling (2012).

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