Nightmares of an Ether-Drinker

Jean Lorrain, trans. from the French by Brian Stableford. Snuggly (snugglybooks.co.uk), $17.95 trade paper (302p) ISBN 978-1-943813-02-5
Horror fans drawn to ghostly ambience, Spiritualist aesthetics, and fin de siècle culture will adore this collection of anecdotal stories of phantasms and hallucinations from a luminary of the French Decadent movement, in a translation that preserves both the mock journalistic feel and the grand descriptive language. Lorrain’s narrators gossip about a poor reckless etheromaniac who’s ruining his health with the drug, and his mind with the terrors it brings, and describe their own encounters with masked figures and uncanny feelings while under the influence, daring the reader to believe even as Lorrain discounts the reality of the hidden spirits. Stableford’s extended introduction provides excellent contextual background on the period, the author’s personal life and career, and Lorrain’s own ether addiction, and the ample footnotes provide context for the many literary references to peers such as Anatole France and E.T.A. Hoffman. The stories that predate the core “Sensations et Souvenirs” of 1895 are just as spooky, if less well developed, but four fairy tales at the end of the volume fail to grip the imagination the way the first-person narratives can. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 302 pages - 978-1-943813-05-6
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