Free City

Free City

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By Eric Darton

ISBN: 9781628973570

Publication Date: 10/6/2020

An inventor living at the beginning of the Enlightenment keeps journals reflecting on everything from his inventive lovemaking to his discovery of the first binary code, caffeine stimulation, the insanity defense, and the memory of birds.

First published in 1996 to international acclaim, Eric Darton’s Free City is the fictional journal of L., a seventeenth-century inventor caught in a precarious love triangle, even as his beloved northern European port town teeters on the brink of catastrophe.

In a tale laced with bawdy humor and elements of the fantastical, L. must balance the demands of his patron—a rapacious entrepreneur—against those of his sorceress lover. As L. attempts to avert calamity, he finds himself joined by the most unlikely of allies.

Weaving together historical, political and absurdist elements, Free City resonates more profoundly today than ever.


"Witty and ingenious." —Michael Harris, Los Angeles Times

"Darton's seductive fable is a stylistic tour de force, a dazzling parable about the birth of the modern age with its terrors and promise. It unfolds as the diary of a Leonardo-like inventor, scientist, surgeon, memory expert and sexual acrobat whose inventions include explosives, anesthetics, a military airship and humanlike automata . . . reminiscent of Italo Calvino's work in its dashing mingling of history and fantasy." —Publishers Weekly

"A peculiar novel written in diary form, putatively by a famous doctor-inventor in a northern European city at the beginning of the Enlightenment. . . . readers . . . will enjoy the sheer inventiveness of the faux period language and the intellectual challenges of the narrative." —Booklist

"Darton's first novel, a curious little dip into history and fantasy, is about the fall of a European city in the Enlightenment period—told through the diary of an aging scientist . . . Tongue-in-cheek historical tale that's intelligent, learned, and of good cheer . . ." —Kirkus Reviews