Leonard Cohen A Ballet of Lepers
Hardcover, 272 pages
McClelland & Stewart, 2022
An unprecedented glimpse into the formation of the legendary talent of Leonard Cohen.
Before the celebrated late-career world tours, before the Grammy awards, before the chart-topping albums, before “Hallelujah” and “So Long, Marianne” and “Famous Blue Raincoat,” the young Leonard Cohen wrote poetry and fiction and yearned for literary stardom. In A Ballet of Lepers, readers will discover that the magic that animated Cohen’s unforgettable body of work was present from the very beginning. Written between 1956 in Montreal, just as Cohen was publishing his first poetry collection, and 1961, when he’d settled on Greece’s Hydra island, the pieces in this collection offer startling insight into Cohen’s imagination and creative process, and explore themes that would permeate his later work, from shame and unworthiness to sexual desire to longing, whether for love, family, freedom, or transcendence.
The titular novel, A Ballet of Lepers—one he later remarked was “probably a better novel” than his celebrated book The Favourite Game—is a haunting examination of these elements, while the fifteen stories, as well as the playscript, probe the inner demons of his characters, many of whom could function as stand-ins for the author himself.
Meditative, surprising, playful, and provocative, A Ballet of Lepers is vivid in its detail, unsparing in its gaze, and reveals the great artist and visceral genius like never before.