Monsieur de Bougrelon
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For the month of November, we’re offering the newly published English translation of JEAN LORRAIN's 1897 novella MONSIEUR DE BOUGRELON. Translated by Eva Richter and published by SPURL EDITIONS, this marks the book's first ever appearance in the English language.
An eccentric, outmoded dandy leads ennui-filled French tourists around misty Amsterdam. Guiding them through sailors’ bars, whorehouses, and costume galleries, Monsieur de Bougrelon recounts hallucinatory stories of his past and delves into his “heroic friendship” with his aristocratic companion Monsieur de Mortimer.
Monsieur de Bougrelon is a unique character: loquacious, proud, a leftover from an earlier age. To his speechless audience, he waxes nostalgic about his life as an exile in Holland, as well as what he calls “imaginary pleasures” – obsessions with incongruous people, animals, and objects. These obsessions are often sexual or border on the sexual, leading to shocking, surreal scenes. Monsieur de Bougrelon also enthuses over his beautiful friend Monsieur de Mortimer, making this novella one of the rare works of the nineteenth century to broach homosexuality in a meaningful way.
Jean Lorrain, born Paul Alexandre Martin Duval, was a novelist, critic, and dramatist, and one of the most conspicuously Decadent figures of fin-de-siècle France. (Biographer Philippe Jullian refers to him as "Sodom's ambassador to Paris.") Masks and disguises are recurring themes in his work, as is Parisian low life, satanism, ether, homosexuality, and the aristocracy. His health declined due to syphilis and his abuse of drugs, and he died on June 30, 1906 at the age of fifty-one. It was rumored that when Lorrain’s grave was opened in 1986, the body still smelled of ether.
Monsieur de Bougrelon
Translated from French with an afterword by Eva Richter
Released November 1, 2016
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