Islands: Lyrical Essays

Jean Grenier (1898-1971) was a French philosopher and writer who combined a rigorous philosophical intelligence with an artistic and literary sensibility. Among his many works are essays, art criticism, autobiographical novels, travel essays, and the volumes of aphorisms, Lexiques and Les á-peu-prés. Grenier was also the teacher of another major French author, Albert Camus.

Islands, a collection of some of his most lovingly written and personal of philosophical speculations, was first published in an edition of five essays in 1933. The revised edition, with six essays, was published with a preface by Albert Camus in 1948; the third edition, upon which this translation is based, was published in 1959.

Grenier's memoir of his cat Mauloud is also an essay on the nature of death; a series of childhood memories becomes the basis for an essay on his attraction to the void. In Grenier's moving works, everything is connected, as one idea leads to another, linking in a very personal manner, from author to reader to society at large.