Emmanuel Bove was born in 1898 and died in 1945. From the first he wished to be a writer - wished to be that and nothing else -; and he succeeded in being otherwise invisible, in having no other existence. When questioned by those who were curious about the man behind the twenty or so books, Bove would demur of himself he deemed best to say nothing at all for "How would one be able to resist the pleasure of filling one's biography with events, with paltry thoughts, with wanting to write from the age of eight, with a misunderstood childhood... The wisest, I'd say, is not to get started." In A Singular Man, Jean-Marie Thely, the quintessential Bovian narrator, cannot stop. In a state of permanent tension, of unrelieved moral gridlock, this anguished bystander, posted on the outskirts of polite society, has founded the whole of his existence upon the idea that he is unlike others. He derives his "singularity" from his origins: he was born an illegitimate child. As an adult he is refused acceptance into those very middle-class mileux upon whose charity he survived from infancy on. Thely struggles to overcome his stigma, is thwarted at every turn. Barred from anything better than an ordinary education, barred from an officer's career in the army, he sours early, a wounded man who cannot but wound others he meets upon his path. And yet, reading these "memoirs, " one comes by and by to feel that this portrait is not what it purports to be, that this eternal outsider is just as certainly the representation of a man who typifies his times and the estrangements that add up to a common denominator in a world where, be it with or be it without the beguilings that money provides, everyone withoutexception lies firmly in the embrace of loneliness and alienation.