Louis Wolfson
Louis Wolfson

Louis Wolfson (born 1931 in New York) is an American author who writes in French. Treated for schizophrenia since childhood, he cannot bear hearing or reading his native language and has invented a method of immediately translating every English sentence into a foreign phrase with the same sound and meaning.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia at an early age, Louis Wolfson was placed in psychiatric institutes during his adolescence, where he underwent severe treatments, notably electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This period left him with distrust and hatred for people, as well as a radical detestation of his native language which he refused to use. He learned foreign languages (notably French, German, Hebrew and Russian), and became used to spontaneously translating (through a sophisticated technique) whatever was said to him in English into a  Sabir of these languages.

In 1963, Wolfson submitted a manuscript to the French publishers Gallimard in which he set out, in French, the principles of his linguistic system, and how he employed it in his daily life. Le Schizo et les langues (Schizophrenia and Languages) was published in 1970 in the collection “Connaissance de l’Inconscient” that had just been launched by writer and psychoanalyst ean-Bertrand Pontalis. It generated great critical interest, in part due to the fact that the foreward to the book was written by Gilles Deleuze. Seven years later, Wolfson’s mother died of complications from an ovarian tumor. Freed from her guardianship, Wolfson left New York and moved to Montreal in 1984.

There, Wolfson wrote an account of the last months of their divided lives, marked by his mother’s agony and his obsessive practice of betting on horses. The text — Ma mère, musicienne, est morte… (My Mother, a Musician, Has Died) — uses the same humor and staggering language of Le Schizo et les langues, but is also charged with the drama of the illness. The book was published in 1984 by Éditions Navarin, but the text became scarce. Wolfson wrote a new version during 2011, which was published by éditions Attila in 2014.

Since November 1994, Wolfson has lived in Puerto Rico. He became a millionaire on 9 April 2003 after winning the jackpot of a lottery in Canada.