The Comedy of Agony: A Book of Poisonous Contemplations
by Christopher Spranger
Published: October 31, 2023
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Paperback: $16.95 US | ISBN 978-1-58775-039-7
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About the Book
This book is the fruit of my desire to perform simultaneously two feats impossible to perform simultaneously, two feats that could not even be performed separately, by myself: to write the next Commedia, and to bring forth a volume whose every page would remain pure of the word “God.” Needless to say, the more I tried to exclude this latter from my concerns, the more I was haunted by Him. God is like a disease whose etiology is not well understood of which the helpless victim seeks to cure himself in vain. As for redoing Dante’s epic: my total inability to detect even the slightest hint of reality anyplace outside of Hell turned out to be a considerable obstacle to the completion of this enterprise. To save Purgatory from what I perceived as its insipidity and to make it into something more than a mere watered-down Inferno, I was forced to transform it in my mind into a realm where one got stuck, into a realm where one waited forever for a delivering call that never came. Nor could I seriously entertain any Paradise save that death consisting in complete extinction promised us by the utopian doctrine of reductive materialism. In case the consequences of this weren’t already catastrophic enough, there is yet another way in which I failed to meet up to my own expectations: aspiring to a very serious and solemn tone, to a tone as black as midnight and as cold as the moon, I wound up writing a book riddled with laughter and not a little frivolous. I flatter myself some dismal notes ring out amidst so much diverting music, but all too few, I fear. Lest this should produce the impression I am one of those lofty Stoical beings capable of smiling indifferently at Fate’s demonic pranks, I will say now for the record I am not. As a matter of fact, the mere idea of ataraxia gives me the blues. My blood, my nerves, and my heart unite in repudiating ancient and modern therapies alike. In literature, however, anything is possible. Save genuine happiness, of course — which isn’t possible anywhere. Even the idea of Heaven appears to have no other purpose than to amplify the pain of the universally damned. So long as the human mind is poisoned by the faintest hope of “something better,” we shall all be tormented in the same way as Tantalus is tormented by that water he so longs for and will never taste.Christopher Spranger
Praise for Christopher Spranger
Like some sort of hybrid of La Rochefoucauld and Frankenstein, Christopher Spranger has dusted off that venerable relic of literary taxonomy, the epigram, and reanimated it for the twenty-first century. The precocious Spranger has been compared to Cioran not only for his gravity, profundity, spookiness and gloom, but also because no one since the great Romanian has used the aphorism with such verve and vitality, obliquity and subtlety, originality and eloquence. The maxims and micro-essays that make up Spranger’s The Comedy of Agony trace their ancestry to Dante as much as to Diogenes; each of the volume’s gnomic distillates stings like Schopenhauer, bites like Bierce; each is a sententious sermon, an elegiac word-capsule suitable for inscription on Chamfort’s tomb. Spranger’s comedy does not pretend to be divine but instead attempts to illuminate the fineries of our hellish existence.Gilbert Alter-Gilbert
Through the alchemical magic of his marvelous prose, Spranger somehow manages to transform the inferno of human suffering into a luminous paradise of pure literary delight.Edward Deville
About the Author
Christopher Spranger is the author of The Effort to Fall (Green Integer) and The Book of Tasks: Volume I: Atlantean Undertakings (Coyote Arts). His dark philosophical ruminations cannot be forgotten nor imitated.