An English translation of a collection of twenty short "prose-songs" (as the Foreword declares them), from the French writer Marcel Schwob (1867-1905). These surreal, hallucinatory little sketches - Schwob's unique take on 3rd century BCE Greek poet Herodas' then-newly discovered mimes - first appeared in L’Écho de Paris in serialised form from July 19th 1891 to June 7th 1892. A key figure of the late 19th-century French symbolist movement, Schwob's best known work is perhaps The Book of Monelle - "an assemblage of fairy tales, nihilist philosophy, and aphorisms tightly woven into a tapestry of deep emotional suffering" - which is considered by many to have been the unofficial bible of the French Symbolist movement. Although not widely known today, Schwob's influence on the literary landscape of the 20th century was huge, not only in relation to the surrealist movement which would flourish in the decades following his death but also beyond, to such authors as William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges, and Roberto Bolaño.
This particular English edition presented here was published by the influential American publisher Thomas Bird Mosher and translated into English by his first wife, Ellie Dresser, by then divorced from Mosher and known as Aimee Lenalie.
May 22, 2014