Diaboliques - Six Tales of Decadence - Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly

Minnesota Press


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Diaboliques: Six Tales of Decadence by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly / ISBN 9780816696901 / 303-page paperback from University of Minnesota Press


With its six trenchant tales of perverse love, Diaboliques proved so scandalous on its original appearance in 1874 that it was declared a danger to public morality and seized on the grounds of blasphemy and obscenity. More shocking in our day is how little known this masterpiece of French decadent fiction is, despite its singular brilliance and its profound influence on writers from Charles Baudelaire to Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, J. K. Huysmans, and Walter Benjamin. This new, finely calibrated translation—the first in nearly a century—returns Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly’s signature collection to its rightful place in the ranks of literary fiction that tests the bounds of culture.

Psychologically intense in substance and style, the stories of Diaboliques combine horror, comedy, and irony to explore the affairs and foibles of men and women whose aristocratic world offers neither comfort nor protection from romantic failure or sexual outrage. Conquest and seduction, adultery and revenge, prostitution and murder—all are within Barbey d'Aurevilly ’s purview as he penetrates the darker recesses of the human heart. Raymond N. MacKenzie, whose deft translation captures the complex expression of the original with its unique blend of the literary high and low, also includes an extensive introduction and notes, along with the first-ever translation of Barbey d'Aurevilly’s late story “A Page from History” and the important preface to his novel The Last Mistress.

"An excellent translation of a long overlooked author that will appeal to French literature and history enthusiasts."—Library Journal, starred review

Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly (1808–1889) is one of the most notorious of decadent writers and the subject of a major critical and popular resurgence in France. His work has been adapted for film most recently by Catherine Breillat (The Last Mistress) and in the fifties by Alexandre Astruc (The Crimson Curtain, also the subject of a film planned in the 1920s by André Breton).

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