Up today on the Ramblings for #ReadIndies is a relatively recent discovery for me; a wonderful indie producing some fascinating and provocative texts in a variety of formats – Sublunary Editions. Based in Seattle in the USA, the publisher offers (like many indies) a subscription option; and that’s how I’ve been exploring their work over the last six months or so. I’ve written about some of their releases previously on the blog, but today I want to share a recent arrival in the form of an obscure work from an author I’ve read before: “Fragments from a Found Notebook” by Mihail Sebastian, translated from the Romanian by Christina Tudor-Sideri.

I discovered Sebastian when his seminal work, “For Two Thousand Years”, was finally issued in English translation by Penguin Modern Classics; and you can read my thoughts about that book here. There’s obviously a lot more to this author than just that one book, and if you check out Marina Sofia’s blog you’ll find more coverage of Sebastian. Suffice to say he was a playwright, essayist, journalist and novelist; a multi-talented man who suffered during the 20th century because he was Jewish, and died far too young.

To circle life as a spectator, to adjust it here, to prop it up there, to arrange it. Between a shrub that grows barbarically and a gardener with scissors and plans, my animal sympathy resides wholeheartedly with the first one.

As far as I’m aware, “Fragments…” was Sebastian’s first published work, released in 1932; and it’s making its debut here in English, so kudos to Sublunary for putting this out. The framing narrative is that the main text is taken from a notebook found by the River Seine in Paris, with the author merely the translator (and providing occasional notes to the text). The body of the work is indeed fragmentary; the writer (perhaps channelling his inner Barbellion) recounting parts of his life, episodes of ennui, and his general decadence and dissipation.

Friends and mistresses stayed with me somewhere, bonding to words I had not uttered, fooled by a shadow that was not me.

The writing is, of course, beautiful. And the atmosphere of the narrative oozes from the pages – Paris really is the perfect setting for a work of this kind! The question arises of course as to how much of the narrator was Sebastian himself, and that I can’t answer as I know little about the man and his life. What I *do* know, however, on the evidence of the two works I’ve read, is that he was a marvellous writer.

“Fragments…” is a fascinating read, one which is not necessarily a straightforward narrative, but which catches the thoughts of a man in a particular time and place, perhaps struggling with his sense of identity. I marked quite a number of passages or phrases which resonated, and could have stuck post-its on many more – which shows how much impact this has for such a short work. This is another marvellous release from Sublunary, who really do like to bring out such a wonderful selection of texts; and it’s definitely whetted my appetite to track down more work by Mihail Sebastian!