After his death, a public figure leaves behind an astonishing manuscript – an embarrassment to his godson, the executor of his estate. What should be done with these disconcerting essays, which touch on disparate topics, jumping from the iconoclastic to the ironic, from the moving to the provocative, from the highbrow to the eccentric, at times preposterous and ridiculous, but all fundamentally contradictory?
It is a difficult question to answer, especially as none of these essays seem to match the persona he hid behind and seem to have been written against everything he stood for.
Is this really a tribute to procrastination from a workaholic? Or a tribute to the tavern from someone who never frequented them? Are these truly tributes? Or are they pranks instead, farcical tricks, intended to be ironic, a full-on hoax, allowing the author to strip away all pretence in order to communicate authentically?
There was only one thing left to do: publish them. Que sera sera.
Robert Major, FRSC, Chevalier (knight) of France’s Ordre des Palmes académiques, has forged a career at the University of Ottawa as Professor of Literature, Department Chair, Vice-Dean, Research, Vice-President Academic and Provost. He has lived in the countryside for almost fifty years, an environment to which he has gradually become adjusted.