A Night Of Serious Drinking by Rene Daumal / ISBN 9781585673995 / 120-page paperback from Overlook
A Night of Serious Drinking is among Rene Daumal's most important literary works. Like Daumal’s Mount Analogue it is a classic work of symbolic fiction. An unnamed narrator spends an evening getting drunk with a group of friends; as the party becomes intoxicated and exuberant, the narrator embarks on a journey that ranges from seeming paradises to the depths of pure hell. The fantastic world depicted in A Night of Serious Drinking is actually the ordinary world turned upside down. The characters are called the Anthographers, Fabricators of useless objects, Scienters, Nibblists, Clarificators, and other absurd titles. Yet the inhabitants of these strange realms are only too familiar: scientists dissecting an animal in their laboratory, a wise man surrounded by his devotees, politicians, poets expounding their rhetoric. These characters perform hilarious antics and intellectual games, which they see as serious attempts to find meaning and freedom.
René Daumal (1908–44) was a literary prodigy in his teens, publishing poetry that attracted the attention of André Breton and the surrealists. Forging his own path instead of joining the group, he co-created and edited the influential literary journal Le Grand Jeu (1927–32), before turning his attentions to Eastern philosophy under the influence of Gurdjieff and Alexandre de Salzmann (model for the character Father Sogol in Mount Analogue). His early death from tuberculosis in 1944 left his masterpiece, Mount Analogue, unfinished; nonetheless it became his best-loved and most famous work.