This book is unique as no other novel can claim to be: one of 109,027,350,432,000 possible variations of the same work of fiction.
Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Isolde, Tristano was first published in 1966 in Italian. But only recently has digital technology made it possible to realise the author’s original vision. The novel comprises ten chapters, and the fifteen pairs of paragraphs in each of these are shuffled anew for each published copy. No two versions are the same. The random variations between copies enact the variegations of the human heart, as exemplified by the lovers at the centre of the story.
The copies of the English translation of Tristano are individually numbered, starting from 10,000 (running sequentially from the Italian and German editions). Included is a foreword by Umberto Eco explaining how Balestrini’s experiment with the physical medium of the novel demonstrates ‘that originality and creativity are nothing more than the chance handling of a combination’.
“Balestrini’s subtle, understated language... provokes plenty of thought.”
“Balestrini's prophetic work presages our contemporary outsourcing of so much genius to the machines.”
“The overall effect, chapter by chapter, can be mesmerising. There is no meaning but something like a dream of meaning.”
“Beautiful, and intricately rendered.”
“Balestrini's experiment focuses on attacking the twin myths of the creative genius and culture as property.”
“The realisation of Balestrini's original, long-unfulfilled dream.”
“Goodbye Gutenberg. Many alternative ways of spreading the adventure of literature are emerging. This exercise by Balestrini is absolutely central.”
“Finally the historical impasse between literature and new media … turns into an opportunity to create something radically new.”
“Balestrini has created with Tristano a kind of poetry of the language … promoting language to the role of protagonist, that is of hero, and where in traditional novels language voices the hero’s thoughts and actions, in this new Tristano language voices itself and celebrates its wide number of opportunities and movements.”
“The most impressive feat of publishing in ages.”