The Mad King - Gustave Kahn

Snuggly Books


The Mad King by Gustave Kahn, translated by Colin and Sue Boswell / ISBN 9781645250753 / 224-page paperback from Snuggly Books


Gustave Kahn (1859-1936), prominent art critic and one of the founders of the Symbolist Movement, in 1894 published his first novel, The Mad King, which is here presented for the first time in English in an adept translation by Colin and Sue Boswell. Written when the author was living in Belgium and editing the anarchist review La Société nouvelle, The Mad King, highly experimental in nature, is a minor masterpiece of fin-de-siècle irony, chronicling, with considerable humour, the story of Christian, King of Hummertanz, and his faithful Palace Marshal, the Duke of Sparkling, via unreliable narration, acrobatic syntax, and an exceptionally rich vocabulary.

This remarkably eccentric novel, at once a study of symbols, sciences, and philosophies, and composed with a poet's pen, will be a welcome addition to any library of avant-garde literature.

Gustave Kahn (1859-1936) founded the first wholly Symbolist periodical, La Vogue, in 1886. His pioneering collection of “vers libre”—a term he claimed to have invented — Les Palais Nomades (1887) also included prose “Interludes” and he became one of the most prolific writers of Symbolist prose, extending his work in that vein well into the twentieth century.

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