Fiction. LGBT Studies. French Literature. Translated from the French by Eva Richter. In Jean Lorrain's MONSIEUR DE BOUGRELON, 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, wearing garish outfits and makeup that drips. 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, years before Jean Cocteau and Jean Genet.
Originally published in French in 1897, MONSIEUR DE BOUGRELON is now available in English translation for the first time. Its inventiveness and sheer decadence find kindred spirits in the novels of Comte de Lautréamont, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and even Louis-Ferdinand Céline, while the novella's indulgent language and unconventional vision of art and sex embody the best of fin-de-siècle literature. It is, in the novella's own words, a true "boudoir of the dead."
"Monsieur de Bougrelon is the original dandy in aspic. Lorrain's book is an archive that arrests life at its moment of greatest beauty, preserved in vitrines, suspended in solutions, arrayed in filigree caskets like saintly femurs and the many foreskins of Christ. It's a singular and intoxicating experience that ends all too soon."—James Conway, Strange Flowers
"MONSIEUR DE BOUGRELON is an evocative character, and place and time and ineffable loss are well-conveyed in this melancholy tale (and its enjoyably warped humor). A fine example of the decadent novel."—M. A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
"MONSIEUR DE BOUGRELON contains some marvellous flights of fancy and torrents of description; it's also blackly humorous in parts, although the dominant tone is of melancholy and a nostalgic regret for vanished days and lives. Spurl Editions are to be commended for resurrecting this neglected novel which is diligently translated and annotated."—John Coulthart
"This novella is an unforgettable portrait of the fin-de-siècle and an ideal entryway into Decadent literature."—Samm Deighan, Diabolique Magazine
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. Masks and disguises are recurring themes in his work, as is Parisian low life, satanism, ether, homosexuality, and the aristocracy. In 1897, he wrote Monsieur de Bougrelon, and shortly after, Lorrain left Paris to live in Nice. His stay at the Riviera began an intense period of creativity. In 1901, he wrote his best-known work, Monsieur de Phocas, which he followed a year later with his fantastical aristocrat saga, Le Vice errant. His health declined due to syphilis and his abuse of drugs, and he died on June 30, 1906, of peritonitis, at the age of fifty. It was rumored that when Lorrain's grave was opened in 1986, the body of "Sodom's ambassador to Paris," as biographer Philippe Jullian called him, still smelled of ether.
Author City: Paris FRA