Translated by Brian Stableford.
Renée Vivien and her lover Hélène de Zuylen de Nyevelt collaborated on two volumes of short prose, Copeaux and Netsuké, which, translated for the first time into English by Brian Stableford, are here brought together in a single volume. Filled with extravagant exercises in symbolism and bitter-sweet narratives that often hinge on problematic confrontations between two female characters, which are simultaneously affectionate and adversarial, these tales of fantasy and Orientalia illustrate the magnitude of Renée Vivien’s literary achievement and the uncommonly broad spectrum of her interests. Faustina and Other Stories represents a uniquely acute facet of the Decadent polyhedron.
“Renée Vivien” (Pauline Mary Tarn, 1877-1909) was introduced into Symbolist circles by one of her lovers, Natalie Barney, but produced the bulk of her work while in a relationship with Hélène de Zuylen de Nyevelt, with whom she collaborated on a number of books under the pseudonym Paule Riversdale. Under her usual pseudonym she published two volumes of prose poems and two further volumes of prose as well as the numerous volumes of poetry that helped to make her notorious as a kind of tragic symbolic embodiment of the Belle Époque: a neurotic, anorexic, alcoholic, suicidal lesbian doomed to self-destruction.