Robert Greene discusses his and Catherine Texier's translation of Jacques Mesrine's "The Death Instinct" at Skylight Books
ROBERT GREENE discusses his and Catherine Texier's translation of JACQUES MESRINE'S THE DEATH INSTINCT
The Death Instinct (Tam Tam Books)
France's Public Enemy Number One from the late 1960s to the end of the 1970s--when he was killed by police in a sensational traffic shootout--Jacques Mesrine (1936-1979) is the best-known criminal in French history. Mesrine was notorious both for his violent exploits and for the media attention he attracted, and he remains very much a public media figure in France and Europe. In 2008 there were two feature-length films based on his life, one of them starring Vincent Cassel in the lead role. Mesrine wrote The Death Instinct while serving time in the high-security prison La Sante; the manuscript was smuggled out of the prison and was later published by Guy Debord's publisher Gerard Lebovici (who briefly adopted Mesrine's daughter, Sabrina, before being assassinated, a few years after Mesrine). The Death Instinct deals with the early years of Mesrine's criminal life, including a horrifically graphic description of a murder he committed early on in his career and a highly detailed account of the workings of the French criminal underworld--making this book perhaps one of the most intriguing and detailed anthropological studies of a criminal culture ever written.
Praise for The Death Instinct:
"Jacques Mesrine was a modern Robin Hood. Modern in the sense that his story includes violence, spectacle, and that he is not just a figure of legend. He did not let the tabloids write the only version of the story. He wrote this remarkable book. About the only thing Guy Debord and Michel Foucault ever agreed on is that this book is a top read." --McKenzie Wark, author of The Beach Beneath the Street
"Unputdownable, incendiary real-life noir. With a touch of Belle-Epoque anarchist criminal Bonnot, nurtured by disposition, pathology and war. No wonder Situationists admired this escape-artist-sociopath, whose sense of honor and justice was matched only by his contempt for society. In literate and lucid contraband prison prose which, as Mesrine says, mixes all the genres: “burlesque, gore, violence, friendship, and fugitives on the lam.” Too bad this "man of a thousand faces" isn't around to help deal with present-day bank corruption, or, for that matter, the prison-industrial complex."--Woody Haut, author of Heartbreak and Vine and Pulp Culture: Hardboiled Fiction and the Cold War.
Robert Greene is the author of five books: The 48 Laws of Power (Penguin), The Art of Seduction (Penguin), The Strategies of War, (Penguin) The 50th Law (co-written with the rapper 50 cent, Harper Books), and Mastery (Penguin). He is currently at work on his next book, The Laws of Human Nature (Penguin). He has previously translated from the French, Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici, Guy Debord (Tam Tam books). Robert Greene lives in Los Feliz.