by: Maurice Sachs
Witches' Sabbath / 276-page paperback / 9781943679126 / Spurl Editions
Translated from the French by Richard Howard. Witches' Sabbath is the remarkable autobiographical chronicle of French author Maurice Sachs (1906-1945). To Sachs, the work was "a statement of account, a moral memo. Or should I say immoral?" He recounts how, as a young man, he befriended Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel, both of whom he stole from, as he stole from many others in his life (Sachs would later propose writing a book entitled Confessions of a Thief). He tells of when, in 1925, he converted to Catholicism and entered a seminary, only to be expelled because of his homosexuality. He tells of when he drifted through America, of when he nearly drank himself to death, of his many failed love affairs. In addition to being a compelling, honest portrait of a unique character, Witches' Sabbath is also notable for its engagement with literature. Every period of Sachs' life is marked by his dialogue with living and dead authors; Charles Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Stendhal, all are featured. Thanks to his lifelong obsession with literature, Sachs developed a style all his own: peppered with keen, acerbic portraits of his contemporaries, sometimes picaresque, introspective and often full of irony.
Maurice Sachs (France, 1906—Germany, 1945) was a French author known for his autobiographical writings. He worked as an editor of a major publishing house and in 1935 published his first novel, Alias. A gay Jewish man, Sachs began World War II by hosting an anti-fascist radio program. Sachs then moved to Hamburg, where he was a black marketeer and an informer for the Gestapo. In 1943, Sachs was arrested and sent to the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp. During a long march to evacuate the liberated camp, Sachs was shot and killed by an SS soldier. Many of Maurice Sachs' works were published after his death, including Witches' Sabbath (1946); The Hunt (1949), which describes Sachs' life during the occupation; and Derrière cinq barreaux (1952) and Tableau des moeurs de ce temps (1954), which Sachs wrote while imprisoned.