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Old 01-08-2017   #1
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Topic Nominated In Praise of "Spells," by Michel Ghelderode

I'm presently immersed in the first English translation of Belgian dramatist Michel de Ghelderode's magnum opus short story collection, "Spells," just released. So far, Gheldrode's work reminds me of both Ligotti and Poe, with strong notes of surrealism and dark humor. The translation by George MacLennan is extremely readable. Highly recommended.

“Ghelderode is the black diamond that closes the necklace of poets that Belgium wears around her neck. This black diamond casts a cruel and noble fire. It wounds only those with small souls. It dazzles others.”—Jean Cocteau

To quote the book description:

"By turns mystical, macabre and whimsically humorous, and set in the unsettled atmosphere of Brussels, Ostend, Bruges and London, Spells conjures up an uncanny realm of angels, demons, masks, effigies and apparitions, a twilit, oppressed world of diseased gardens, dusty wax mannequins and sinister relics."

Here are some passages from the book, opening the tale, "Nuestra, Senora de la Soledad:"

" Man is alone in life. He's alone in his cradle as he'll be alone on his deathbed; he's alone in love... Solitude is a gift, a grace, or a disgrace brought by the gray-veiled fairy to the newborn infant while the good fairies vanish in a worldly hubbub. After that, the scorn and disgust that men declare when faced with solitude bear down on the solitary man so that he'll always be happier or unhappier than other men, superior or inferior. Within him lies both the potential for saint or monster.

"Besides coming across others born to solitude, other souls destined to be encompassed by solitude, he sometimes journeys back toward the ancestors, assembled shadows, becoming the mysterious keeper of their accounts. He meets living men who are already dead and dead men who still roam the earth. He bumps into angels, passes right through them, or feels them passing though him, voluptuously fresh and cool. He sets himself to serve an animal, a dog whose human gaze he deciphers. He turns away from children of genius whose mothers don't see the signs, the dumbshows toward death. He's always hurrying toward some encounter only to halt in front of a mirror. What is he fleeing and who is he looking for?"


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Old 01-08-2017   #2
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Re: In Praise of "Spells," by Michel Ghelderode

Thank you Gnosticangel for all of this information. I started reading my French-language edition of the book some time ago, but was very busy at the time and did not finish reading it. Your post motivates to pick up where i've left.

Based on the first 3 stories I read then, i recommend it to all Ligottians.

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily
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Old 01-09-2017   #3
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Re: In Praise of "Spells," by Michel Ghelderode

I'd just come across this title on Amazon, and the descriptions definitely piqued my interest...
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ghelderode, michel, praise, spells

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