Translated by Brian Stableford.
"There are, Monsieur, the man with the singular eyes said to me, ill-intentioned people who look at me with an impertinent pity and claim that I am mad. They will tell you that, but do not believe them; I have pronounced that word in order to destroy in you immediately the striking impression that it produces. Those people are wicked; they were my friends once, but now they spy on me and say perfidious things about me, because they are jealous. And I shall tell you with what reason: they are jealous of not having understood their soul as well as me. There are people who cannot see and who wish ill on others because of that; but not everyone can sense things in the same way, can they, Monsieur? One must be reasonable."
Camille Mauclair’s Les Clefs d’or, originally published in 1897, is one of the most significant Symbolist prose collections of the fin de siècle. The present volume, The Frail Soul and Other Stories, contains eleven pieces from this masterwork, brilliantly translated into English for the first time by Brian Stableford.
"Camille Mauclair" was the pseudonym of Séverin Faust (1872-1945), whose roman à clef Le Soleil es morts (1898) is an affectionate memoir of Mallarmé’s mardis, featuring many of the writers still in attendance in the 1890s. He was more prolific as an art critic and music critic than a poet or writer of fiction, and eventually became a specialist in non-fiction, but Les Clefs d’or (Ollendorf 1897), from which the contents of the present volume have been taken, is one of the most significant Symbolist prose collections of the fin de siècle. The material from Les Clefs d’or not in the present volume were published under the title The Virgin Orient and Other Stories (Black Coat Press 2016).