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The Dedalus Book of French Horror: the 19th century

Author: Terry Hale

Translator: Liz Heron   Cover illustration: David Smith  

The two dozen authors collected here span the 19th century, from La Harpe in the aftermath of the Revolution to Huysmans' fin de siecle decadence. Poe, Hoffmann and the English Gothic novel all fed the imagination of the French fantasists, who frequently added a touch of Gallic wit to the heady brew of vampirism, ghostly gore and sexual misbehaving. Hale provides a scholarly introduction to this highly enjoyable selection of strange tales.

Scotland on Sunday

Stories like Eugene Sue's wickedly funny cautionary tale of how a brush with Rousseau can lead to an unpleasant end show that the French macabre is worthy of attention for its irony and humour. There are contes cruels, frenetiques and fantastiques by Baudelaire, Maupassant and the Marquis de Sade. But some of the best tales are by writers, now forgotten, who used E.T.A. Hoffman, Edgar Allan Poe and the English Gothic novel to create a uniquely French genre.

Isobel Montgomery in The Guardian

For those who know their frenetique from their fantastique, there's plenty of deliciously morbid stuff here, from Eugene Sue's Candide-like satire A True Account of the Travels of Claude Belissan, Clerk to the Public Prosecutor to Catulles Mendes's sexually overheated The Penitent and the Marquis de Sade's surprisingly chaste Diorci, or The Vagaries of Chance, one of the nineteen stories being published in English for the first time.

The Irish Times

Hale's inspired selection - he includes little-known pieces by Sade, Baudelaire, Dumas and Maupassant, as well as stories by unjustly forgotten writers such as Catulle Mendes, Jean Pichepin, Charles Nodier and Petrus Borel - not only makes this an invigorating collection to read, it virtually redefines the boundaries of the French horror genre.

Brendan King in The Times Literary Supplement

RRP: £10.99

No. of pages: 361

ISBN numbers:
978 1 873982 87 7
978 1 909232 63 1

Compilation, introduction and World English Language in this translation.