178 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-88984-068-7





Translated by Robin Skelton
Reviewed by Michael O. Nowlan

Michael O. Nowlan was a teacher and writer in Oromocto, New Brunswick.


It is the unusual books that are the most challenging and the most intriguing. Zuk is one of those. Georges Zuk was born in Algeria in 1918 of a Hungarian father and a French mother. Unable to enlist in the army in World War II, Zuk spent most of that period in Paris, where he developed a provocative philosophy. In formulating this philosophy, he compiled a long poem, Zuk, which evaluates a preoccupation with clothing and erotica. Within the poem(s), which are largely epigrammatic, he presents various truths of life and the human condition.

The curious question about Zuk is what the author/poet is truly exploring — himself or an imaginary prototype of the human species. Interchangeably, he talks of self and Zuk, and, early in the text, he notes “the poem that created Zuk /was unlike a poem.” Later, he records “slowly I come to the end /of being Zuk.” Within, or behind, all this is a mask or disguise that makes the whole scheme difficult because “if you remove a mask /you discover a mask.”

To analyze Zuk is not easy; to appreciate the text is to read and reread. Its philosophy lies somewhere between Socrates and the modernists. To make it available to us, Robin Skelton has spent painstaking hours in translation and research. His introduction, footnotes, and brief biography add to the intensity of Georges Zuk’s character. It is safe to assume that the work of Zuk will cause much controversy in time to come. Whether it joins the work of the great philosophers is questionable.


Zuk, Georges, “Zuk,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38638.