Complete Short Stories

Ronald Firbank, Author, Steven Moore, Editor Dalkey Archive Press $19.95 (170p) ISBN 978-0-916583-60-6
These entertaining vignettes, written between 1903 to 1908, are mosaics of fantasy, comedy and poetry that provide clues to Firbank's (1886-1926) literary development, his influence on Waugh and Huxley, and the continuation of literary decadence and aestheticism into the 20th century. While the juvenilia collected here (including four previously unpublished stories) may be as derivative as Firbank's later novels are original, it is none the worse for its imitation of earlier European models. His sardonic depictions of English aristocrats suffering from ennui and moral decay take their epigrammatic wit and artificiality from Wilde, while his colors, scenery and costumes seem plucked from pre-Raphaelite paintings. His prose poems recall the lush impressionism of the French symbolists, his fairytales the mysticism of Maeterlinck. Despite his fanciful subjects (widows manipulating peers into marriage, a bored wife who destroys buildings through witchcraft, a dying nun carried to heaven by the Holy Virgin), it is not Firbank's plots that fascinate but rather his art pour l'art rendering of a world peopled by beautiful grotesques. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 170 pages - 978-0-916583-61-3
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