The oddest book you may ever read, both fantastic autobiography and ground-breaking autofiction
Count Nicolas de Toulouse Lautrec de Savine was a hero in battle and a legendary lover in bed. A daring adventurer and a shameless swindler. A gambler ready to place the riskiest bets and a coward apt to flee his creditors in the middle of the night. Tsar of Bulgaria and a Chicago streetcar conductor. A racist, a chauvinist, and an antisemite. Was he all of these – or none of them? This is the question Stella Benson struggled with as she tried to shape the Count’s wild recollections into a coherent story. Which mattered more: the factual truth or the fictional truth? Her answer anticipates today’s field of creative nonfiction – while telling a wild, funny, and unique tale.
Literary Nonfiction. Autofiction.
Born in Shropshire in 1892, Stella Benson published her first novel, I Pose, at the age of twenty-three. She went on to write six more novels, along with collections of poetry, short stories, and travel essays. Her fiction blends fantasy and cold-eyed realism, satire and tragedy and she remains one of the most original talents of her generation. She lived in America, Hong Kong, and Manchuria and died of pneumonia in Vietnam in 1933.