The King In The Golden Mask And Other Stories by Marcel Schwob. Book review

THE KING IN THE GOLDEN MASK AND OTHER STORIES by Marcel Schwob, Tartarus Press, h/b, £32.50

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

Receiving a book from Tartarus Press always feels like a special occasion – you can feel the quality of these beautifully bound books with ribbon book mark.  Their simple yet stylish dust covers hide previously unknown delights and treasures.

This particular one is a collection of translated tales from the pen of Marcel Schwob, written between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in French.  It begins with a lengthy, but fascinating introduction from the translator, Iain White, which details Schwob’s life and influences and then launches into a tale of the Strigae, or vampires. Some are told as parables, such as “The Fat Man”, in which a happy, but very fat man lets a very skinny doctor live with him who terrifies him with tales of diabetes into giving up all his earthly delights and instead feeding them to the doctor, who doesn’t stay skinny for long.

Many of these tales are ageless, and while the old-fashioned language may be seen as a barrier to some, it is worth soldiering on through the book to enjoy some very Poe-esque tales.