Spicilege by Marcel Schwob
A collection of essays by the marvelous Marcel Schwob, whose “eccentric yet thorough scholarship” was admired by Jorge Louis Borges and influenced Roberto Bolaño, among others. Introduced and translated with care by Alex Andriesse. All hail to Wakefield Press for bringing Schwob’s works to us.
Marcel Schwob was, as Paul Léautaud described him, a “living library,” and the critical biographies gathered in the curated essays of Spicilege display a few of the volumes in that library: his groundbreaking research on François Villon (work that remains a cornerstone to our knowledge of Villon’s legacy), his passion for Robert Louis Stevenson, and his encounters with such less-remembered writers as George Meredith. But it is the carefully developed ideas in these essays and the eccentric yet thorough scholarship drawing them together that are of particular interest today: the understanding of criminal slang in the Middle Ages; the “romantic realism” of the adventure story; the study of prostitution in ancient Greece; the folklore inspired by a story by Gustave Flaubert; a complex critique of individuality that effectively laid the groundwork to what Jarry would come to define as “pataphysics”; and ruminations on such themes as perversity, laughter, biography, love, terror and pity, and art and anarchy.
2022; paperback; 5.375 x 8 inches; 224 pages; 9781939663870.