Despite the subtitle, this first English-language publication by Klima (1878-1928), a noted Czech philosopher, has little to offer readers of Stephen King. It is more screed than story, ostensibly the tale of a mad German prince who marries a completely appalling woman, who murders her father and infant before trysting with a filthy peasant who flogs her bloody while enduring her windy rants about her own abused, abusive and completely anti-social upbringing. Thus stimulated, the prince's ""romance"" continues well after his wife's apparent death. There's much of the whip in all this, a great fascination with all things perverse, but nothing that makes any of the characters more than bizarre caricatures. Much scabrous wit and the hallucinatory nature of events leave the reader uncertain about taking anything seriously. Appended is the author's autobiography, in which he turns out to be as pathological as any of his characters, a genuine transgressive in the manner of de Sade. Either our legs are being pulled, or this a fine example of the Ambrose Bierce dictum that the philosopher specializes in giving advice to people who are happier than he is.