A Blue Tale and Other Stories
Marguerite Yourcenar University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress PQ2649.O8A25 1995 | Dewey Decimal 843.912
Published to great acclaim in France in 1993, this collection is not only a delight for Marguerite Yourcenar fans but a welcome port of entry for any reader not yet familiar with the author's lengthier, more demanding works. The sole published work of fiction by Yourcenar yet to be translated into English, this collection includes three stories written between 1927 and 1930 when the author was in her mid-twenties. These stories cover a range of themes, from an allegory on greed and a scene from the war of the sexes, to a witchhunt that obsessively creates its own quarry.
For the devoted readers of Yourcenar, this collection allows a rare glimpse at the beginnings of a writer's craft. In these accomplished but forgotten pieces, edited and introduced by her biographer, Josyane Savigneau, the reader will find the blend of fable and fairy tale of Oriental Tales, the psychological chronicle of Dear Departed, the ironic realism of A Coin in Nine Hands. Read as an introduction to Yourcenar's work, the stories take us into the writer's workshop, as it were, to the early days of creation. In either case, A Blue Tale and Other Stories carries the unmistakable voice of a formidable and vastly talented writer.
Marguerite Yourcenar (her pseudonym was an anagram of her family name, Crayencour) was born in Brussels in 1903 and died in Maine in 1987. One of the most respected writers in the French language, she is best known as the author of the best-selling Memoirs of Hadrian and The Abyss. She was awarded many literary honors, most notably election to the Académie Francaise in 1980, the first woman to be so honored.
Fog: A Novel
by Miguel de Unamuno, translated from the Spanish by Elena Barcia, with an introduction by Alberto Manguel Northwestern University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PQ6639.N3N513 2017 | Dewey Decimal 863.62
Fog is a fresh new translation of the Spanish writer Miguel de Unamuno’s Niebla, first published in 1914. An early example of modernism’s challenge to the conventions of nineteenth-century realist fiction, Fog shocked critics but delighted readers with its formal experimentation and existential themes. This revolutionary novel anticipates the work of Sartre, Borges, Pirandello, Nabokov, Calvino, and Vonnegut.
The novel’s central character, Augusto, is a pampered, aimless young man who falls in love with Eugenia, a woman he randomly spots on the street. Augusto’s absurd infatuation offers an irresistible target for the philosophical ruminations of Unamuno’s characters, including Eugenia’s guardian aunt and “theoretical anarchist” uncle, Augusto’s comical servants, and his best friend, Victor, an aspiring writer who introduces him to a new, groundbreaking type of fiction. In a desperate moment, Augusto consults his creator about his fate, arguing with Unamuno about what it means to be “real.” Even Augusto’s dog, Orfeo, offers his canine point of view, reflecting on the meaning of life and delivering his master’s funeral oration.
Fog is a comedy, a tragic love story, a work of metafiction, and a novel of ideas. After more than a century, Unamuno’s classic novel still moves us, makes us laugh, and invites us to question our assumptions about literature, relationships, and mortality.
Mishima: A Vision of the Void
Maguerite Yourcenar University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress PL833.I7Z98713 2001 | Dewey Decimal 895.635
On November 25, 1970, Japan's most renowned postwar novelist, Yukio Mishima, stunned the world by committing ritual suicide. Here, Marguerite Yourcenar, a brilliant reader of Mishima and a scholar with an eye for the cultural roles of fiction, unravels the author's life and politics: his affection for Western culture, his family and his homosexuality, his brilliant writings, and his carefully premeditated death.