Translated by Elizabeth Bryer
Winner of the prestigious ‘Premio Novela Breve Juan March Cencillo’
May 1814. On the island of Elba, the beekeeper Andrea Pasolini awaits the arrival of the exiled Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. Though an uneducated farmer, Pasolini’s first love is reading books on philosophy and apiculture – a secret, illicit activity he undertakes in his cellar at night. Napoleon is also fascinated, by the swarming of bees and the beauty of honey. From a distance, an obsessive interest develops between the two men, as anticipation builds around a visit by the Emperor to inspect Pasolini’s beehives.
In this novella, José Luis de Juan meticulously interweaves historical sources with an imagining of the lives of two very different men, one a humble apiarist on an island, the other – also born on an island – who aspires to be the ruler of the world. In an atmosphere of shifting identities, magical dreams, furtive plots and deferred uprisings, in favour of Napoleon and against him, each man is convinced that the behaviour of bees holds the key to how the future will unfold.
‘A novel of atmosphere, hypnotic, full of symbols, marked by a diabolical precision.’ Le Magazine Littéraire
‘One of those marginal and miraculous works that is spoken of like a conspirator.’ Le Nouvel Observateur
pp : 128
Published : February 2020