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Fards and Poisons

by Jean Lorrain
translated by Brian Stableford

Short Stories

Fards and Poisons, originally published in 1903 and here made available for the first time in English in a translation by Brian Stableford, is one of the more eccentric works of the ever-eccentric Jean Lorrain. Defying the standard narrative expectations of short stories, the items in this volume might be seen as a series of gossipy character sketches, of actresses and mystics, gigolos and dowagers, of an entire rogues gallery of fin de siècle types, which help explain how the author gained a reputation for corrupting public morals by literary means. Resembling fragments excised from a kind of endless series of conversations, the result is a strange literary collage that is perhaps the most quintessential of Lorrain’s works: the slice of his life that pins his own literary persona most precisely, like a lepidopterist’s long pin.

Included in the current volume, and for the first time republished since its initial appearance in Le Journal, is also the short story “Victim”, for which Lorrain was disastrously sued, and convicted of, libel, the court imposing a massive punitive fine on the author and sentencing him to two months imprisonment, though the rulings were later overturned.

Cover by Georges Goursat

Published by Snuggly Books in October 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64525-012-8

The Brian Stableford Website