cover image Pauliska, or Modern Perversity

Pauliska, or Modern Perversity

Jacques-Antoine Révéroni, Baron de Saint-Cyr, trans. from the French by Erik Butler. Tartarus, $45 (240p) ISBN 978-1-912586-07-3

First published in 1798 and translated into English for the first time, Révéroni’s deliciously lurid novel is a heady dram of vintage gothic. Pauliska is a Polish countess, who, with her eight-year-old son, Edvinski, is routed from her homeland by Russian invaders, only to fall into the clutches of a lecherous alchemist and, later, into the hands of a gang of counterfeiters and assassins. Her personal perils are intensified by separation from Edvinski, who barely escapes being made a castrato by a villainous monk, and the travails of her protector, Ernest Pradislas, who becomes the victim of a society of man-hating female misandrophiles. The action careens across Hungary, Germany, Italy, and other European locales, and the onslaught of “dissipation and perversity” to which its hapless victims are subjected are embodiments of “warped maxims and absurd systems” relevant to the era in which the story unfolds. With its many moments of fade-to-black fainting, hairbreadth escapes, and rationalizations of what may be supernatural, this book is a high melodrama sure to appeal to fans of the writings of Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Gregory Lewis, and other classic gothicists. [em](Jan.) [/em]