Henri Bosco, trans. from the French by Joyce Zonana. New York Review Books, $17.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-68137-410-9
In this gothic historical par excellence, Bosco (1888–1976), a multiple Nobel nominee whose other English translations are out-of-print, follows the callow 25-year-old Martial de Mégremut, last living relative of his maternal great-uncle Cornélius de Malicroix. Raised in the early 19th century by female Mégremut relatives after the death of his parents, Martial has never met his uncle, a solitary “incarnation of wildness” whose existence fills him with anxiety. After Malicroix dies, Martial unexpectedly discovers he is the beneficiary, provided only that he spend three months in Malicroix’s crumbling old manse, located on a desolate island in the Rhone River surrounded by marshland and reachable only by ferry. Attended by his great-uncle’s faithful manservant, Balandran, and a long-haired shepherd dog at the estate, Martial soon drifts into a disturbed state, unable to shake the feeling that he is “among the dead.” On a typically storm-wracked night, he receives a rare visitor, the sinister Maître Dromiols, Malicroix’s executor, and Dromiols’s attendant, the cadaverous Uncle Rat. Amid Martial’s paranoid and increasingly wild flights of imagination, brilliantly captured by Bosco in precise prose, he begins to uncover his great-uncle’s secrets. Bosco’s atmospheric investigation of the relationship between environment and mentality successfully merges haunted-house tropes and high modernism. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2020
Release date: 04/07/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-68137-411-6
Paperback - 978-2-07-036397-1
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