"Dipped in the blue ink of adolescence, Fleur Jaeggy's pen is an engraver's needle depicting roots, twigs, and branches of the tree of madness, growing in the splendid isolation of the small Swiss garden of knowledge into full leaf until it obscures every perspective. Extraordinary prose. Reading time is approximately four hours. Remembering time, as for its author: the rest of one's life."—Joseph Brodsky
Set in postwar Switzerland, Fleur Jaeggy’s eerily beautiful novel begins simply and innocently enough: "At fourteen I was a boarder in a school in the Appenzell." But there is nothing truly simple or innocent here. With the off-handed knowingness of a remorseless young Eve, the narrator describes life as a captive of the school and her designs to win the affections of the apparently perfect new girl, Fréderique. As she broods over her schemes as well as on the nature of control and madness, the novel gathers a suspended, unsettling energy. Now translated into six languages, I beati anni del castigo in its Italian original won the 1990 Premio Bagutta and the 1990 Premio Speciale Rapallo. In Tim Parks’ consummate translation (with its "spare, haunting quality of a prose poem"), Sweet Days of Discipline was selected as one of the London Times Literary Supplement’s Notable Books of 1992: "In a period when novels are generally overblown and scarcely portable, it is good to be able to recommend [one that is] miraculously short and beautifully written."
About the Author
Fleur Jaeggy— “a wonderful, brilliant, savage writer” (Susan Sontag) —was born in 1940 in Zurich and lives in Milan. Her work has been acclaimed as “small-scale, intense, and impeccably focused ”(The New Yorker) and “addictive” (Kirkus).
Tim Parks is the author of more than twenty novels and works of nonfiction, including the best-selling Italian Neighbors and An Italian Education. His novels include Europa which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His essays have appeared in the The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. Parks is also a renowned translator from the Italian and lives in Verona.
Glorious, acerbic, and sad. I have never gasped so much in sheer literary joy as while reading this novel; just trust me. It's exceptional.
— Emily Temple - Lithub
Tim Parks does an admirable job of keeping the ice-cold language flowing.
— Publishers Weekly
This short work is packed with violent premonitions, sudden deaths, stabbings, hangings and the language of insanity. There are metaphors drawn from shrouds, altar cloths, coffins, corpses, funeral marches, gallows, guillotines, nooses, cults of the dead and, most affecting of all, stone tablets set in churchyard walls. We are all dying, even as children: as Rilke believed, we carry our deaths within us. Frédérique tells the narrator she has an old woman’s hands; the schoolgirls inhabit “a sort of senile childhood” and they have ‘a mortuary look.’
— Margaret Drabble - The New Statesman
Like all great books, it’s really like nothing else. It’s like itself.
— Gabe Habash
An elegantly structured and stubbornly moving study of innocence destroyed and love denied. Very accomplished indeed.
— Kirkus Reviews
She has the enviable first glance for people and things, she harbors a mixture of distracted levity and authoritative wisdom.
— Ingeborg Bachmann