Translated by Brian Stableford.
Jean Lorrain, one of the leading figures of the Decadent Movement, was a master of the conte cruel. Presented here, for the first time in English, are ten such tales: stories of princesses and princes; mock-fairytales that seem to pervert the innocence of their settings with a triumphant immorality, plunging the reader into an atmosphere of voluptuousness and sensuality.
“Whoever has not believed as a child,” wrote the author, “will not dream as a young man; it is necessary to think, on the threshold of life, of weaving beautiful tapestries of dreams in order to decorate our abode as winter approaches; and beautiful dreams, even when faded, make the sumptuous tapestries of December.”
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.