The Organs of Sense
Set in 1666 in the mountains of Bohemia, The Organs of Sense is a novel that purports to be a translation from the Latin of an encounter between the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - not yet the world renowned polymath who would go on to discover calculus, but rather a nineteen year old whose faith in reason has been shaken - and a blind astronomer who has predicted an eclipse, despite the fact he literally has no eyes.
In the three hours before the eclipse occurs (or fails to occur) the astronomer tells Leibniz the story of how he lost his eyes, and how he claims to see the heavens without them, a tale that ends up encompassing the astronomer’s entire life. An absurdist, nested fable about the slippery boundaries between reason and madness, parents and children, ambition and failure, blindness and sight, The Organs of Sense sees Sachs tangling with the influences of his twin idols - Franz Kafka and Thomas Bernhard - while carving out new comic and philosophical terrain entirely his own.
Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for The Organs of Sense
Translation Rights Sold
This is the funniest and most original novel I've read in a very long time, a madcap blend of philosophical malpractice and byzantine palace intrigue. It's like what might happen if Helen DeWitt attempted a revisionist 17th century historical novel, or if Sebald had gone insane. In other words, there's nothing else like it. Read it and see!
Author of Early Work
At once erudite and comic, The Organs of Sense is an absurd and beautifully finessed pseudo-historical novel which deftly circles around a dark core.
A madcap, ingenious fable which booms with endless jokes and riffs about the nature of consciousness itself, The Organs of Sense is yet another dazzling, high-wire performance from our modern-day Kleist, Adam Ehrlich Sachs.
Finalist for the 2016 National Book Awards
A pleasure to read, especially for the scientifically inclined.
Beguiling and utterly magical... Sachs considers father-son relationships and other complicated family dynamics that can make or break creative ambition of all stripes... Sprinkled with generous doses of philosophy, this gem of a novel, with a spectacular denouement... is an utterly immersive and transportive work of art.
A delightful perversion of history.
The protagonist of this unconventional novel is the seventeenth-century polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. In 1666, Leibniz is nineteen and has inexplicably just been denied his doctorate. Though shaken in his “sanguine rationalism,” he remains an “assiduous inquirer into miracles and other aberrations of nature.” When he hears of an eyeless hermit who, alone among Europe’s astronomers, predicts a total solar eclipse, Leibniz makes an arduous journey to ask, “How did you come to lose your eyes and how do you claim to see the stars without them?” Sachs confidently fictionalizes history, infusing the process of scientific discovery with dark absurdity.