Weird France and Belgium: A Best Of

“Yet, I also began to have the sense, fostered in part by the cross-contamination of research, that around the world enclaves that never knew one another—writers who could not have read each other—still had communicated across decades and across vast distances, had stared up at the same shared unfamiliar constellations in the night sky, heard […]

The Eunuchs

To Maurice Spronck             Spadones! They were crouching on slabs of rock, with knees held together, and rubbing the toes of their slippers with silver handled canes. Their saffron colored robes spread out around them, and an odor of cinnamon wafted from their skin. They reclined like this, sweating among the sauna boys, men dressed […]

Marcel Schwob: A Man of the Future: An Introduction

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today and tomorrow, we’ll be featuring two stories from Marcel Schwob’s 1892 collection The King in the Golden Mask, forthcoming from Wakefield Press in a new translation by Kit Schluter: “The Plague” and “The Eunuchs.” The King in the Golden Mask has never been translated in its entirety, though a book of selected writings by Schwob […]

The Plague

Marcel Schwob (1867-1905) was a French symbolist author, remembered for his numerous and varied short stories, literary monographs, newspaper chronicles of fin-de-siècle Paris, and linguistic tracts on medieval slang, much of which sprang from his fabled devotion to archival research. While his work has fallen into relative obscurity, it was hailed in his day by […]

Surrealism and the Caribbean: The Crossroads of Civilizations

As Jacques-Stephen Alexis articulated in Paris, 1956 at the first International Conference of Black Writers and Artists, the Caribbean has always been a crossroads of civilizations, even before its multifarious encounters with Europe after Columbus. Published in the quarterly magazine Présence Africaine in the same year, Alexis’ piece “Du Réalisme Merveilleux des Haïtiens” covered a […]

About André Bay’s “The Queen of Spades”

I confess I know little, and almost all of it circumstantial, about this atmospheric sketch of a gutter-dwelling worm. It was written by André Bay (1916-2013), for more than four decades a senior editor at Éditions Stock. Among the diverse writers he championed there were Jorge Amado, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Wolfe, Anaïs Nin, and […]

The Queen of Spades

Night travelers step from the train. I’m freezing. Footsteps hammer the street, shaking white droplets loose. The gutters are streaming. Mice are nibbling on cobwebs. Cows moo in the mist. Everywhere, without speaking a word, they fear the Queen of Spades. She is a woman, a monster, some claim; others maintain she is a gigantic […]