A review of Jean Lorraine's Monsieur de Phocas

28 Oct 2015 14:43 #1 :: Seregil of Rhiminee
A review of Jean Lorraine's Monsieur de Phocas

Jean Lorrain's Monsieur de Phocas was published by Tartarus Press in September 2015.

Information about Jean Lorrain:

Jean Lorrain (1855-1906), born Paul Alexandre Martin Duval, was a French poet and novelist of the Symbolist school.

Lorrain was a dedicated disciple of dandyism, and openly gay. He contributed to the satirical weekly Le Courrier français. Lorrain wrote a number of collections of verse, including La forêt bleue (1883) and L'ombre ardente, (1897). He is also remembered for his Decadent novels and short stories, such as Monsieur de Phocas (1901) and Histoires des masques (1900), as well as for one of his best novels, Sonyeuse, which he links to portraits exhibited by Antonio de La Gándara in 1893. He also wrote the libretto to Pierre de Bréville's 1910 opera Éros vainqueur.

- From Wikipedia

Information about Monsieur de Phocas:

Monsieur de Phocas by Jean Lorrain

With an Introduction and Afterword by Francis Amery (Brian Stableford)

Monsieur de Phocas (1901) has been ranked with Huysmans' À Rebours (1884) as the summation of the French Decadent Movement. In the novel, Jean Lorrain presents experiences of the darker side of his life in Paris as the adventures of the Duc de Fréneuse (Phocas) and his relationship with the svengaliesque English painter Claudius Ethal.

Jean Lorrain, born into a shipping family in Normandy in 1855, changed his name to keep his family out of the literary controversy he courted. In his writing and life he cultivated a kind of fascinated loathing for the decadence of fin de siècle Paris: in the words of Hubert Juin, he ‘loved his epoch to the point of detestation.’

Frances Amery's sumptuous translation brings to life the grotesque, glittering world of Monsieur de Phocas's journal, and Amery's masterly Introduction and Afterword describe Lorrain's place in Montmartre, Paris and the wider literary world.

Illustration on jacket and boards by Alastair.