Jean Sbogar and Other Stories by Charles Nodier, translated by Brian Stableford / ISBN 9781645250791 / 302-page paperback from Snuggly Books (2021)
Jean Sbogar, originally published in 1818 and here presented in a new translation by Brian Stableford, was the first work by the great French writer Charles Nodier to attract considerable attention, after it became known that the exiled Napoléon Bonaparte had read it with enthusiastic interest. This influential gothic novella, situated in Venice and its environs, which the author likely composed under the influence of opium, is a phantasmagorical tale of banditry and love, told with the flair of genius.
Accompanying the primary work are two emotionally feverish novellas, Adèle and Thérèse Aubert, as well as three shorter items, all transitional pieces, intermediary in their philosophy, methodology and sophistication between the author’s early novelettes and the more elaborate work of his final phase, but they are interesting in their own right as well as in the role of a set of stepping-stones.
Charles Nodier (1780-1844) was one of the pioneers of French Romantic prose; his salon at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, begun in 1824 and known as Le Cénacle, brought together many of the key figures in the Movement and spun off other cénacles in which it was anchored, including Victor Hugo’s. His best work consists of short stories and novellas.