Sunday 8 August 2021, 2–5pm
Please note that this event is a matinee - doors will open at 2pm and the event will begin shortly after. Entry is free but will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Translators Marie Roux and R.W.M. Hunt are joined by David Toop to discuss the publication of In A Sound World, a science fiction novella by the polymathic French author Victor Segalen, published for the first time in English by Strange Attractor Press in 2021. Join us for an afternoon of conversation and listening, exploring Segalen's curious career, his interest in synaesthetics, and his never performed libretto Orpheus Rex, originally penned for Claude Debussy. Copies of the book will be available for a special launch price.
Victor Segalen (1878–1919) had one of France's most curious literary careers, applying his imagination to musicology, ethnography, exploration, medicine, synaesthetics, Chinese history, and the occult. In A Sound World gathers together his previously untranslated essay “Synesthestics and the Symbolist School” and his novella "In A Sound World", a work of fantasy concerning an inventor lost in his own immersive harmonic space. Segalen's medical training (he had a career as a ship's doctor) inspired an interest in the link between the prevailing Symbolism of the time and synesthesia, the condition whereby one sense affects the perception of another.
This edition also includes an essay by the musician and cultural historian David Toop that explores the historical context of Segalen's ideas. Also included is Segalen's libretto for "Orpheus Rex", a collaboration with the composer Claude Debussy, which he would use as an opportunity for further explorations of his synesthetic concepts. This book makes available all three texts for the first time in English.
Marie Roux is a photographer from France, currently based in London and she is a drummer for the band O yama O.
R.W.M. Hunt is a painter who lives in Edinburgh and works at the Scottish Poetry Library.
David Toop is a musician, author and curator. His previous books include Ocean of Sound, Sinister Resonance and Inflamed Invisible.
His forthcoming book – Two-Headed Doctor: Listening for Ghosts in Dr. John’s Gris-Gris – will be published by Strange Attractor in 2022.