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I discovered pretty early on that the author wrote most of these stories in a sort of tongue in cheek fashion, making for great reading I will have lots of time this coming week it s been crazy here to play catch up and post about it, but for now I would read anything by this man it s that good. A few of the stories in this collection by French storyteller and occasional fantasist are quite good and all of them are nicely translated by Brian Stableford Too many of the tales though are very mild in their effect, falling short of the cynicism and wit that characterize the best of them These are generally later stories by the writer, some penned to capitalize on the success of his original contes cruels and others written for other intents, so some of the disappointment here may come from thwarted expectation or the necessity to fill out a volume Stableford gets huge points for including extensive notes explaining some of the nearly forgotten lore woven into the stories and elucidating the finer points of his translations when they are not obvious from the English Though not all the stories are gems, I am very glad to have had the opportunity to read even the least of them because they carry the flavor of their time absinthe and cheap perfume mostly and they are not otherwise available in translation. The flourish of the Hamish Miles translation is about as good as the simpler but equally well crafted A.W Raitt. *Free Kindle ☔ The Scaffold And Other Cruel Tales ☠ In this collection of Cruel Tales, we meet a unique and colorful cast of extraordinary characters such as Akedysseril the Queen of India, Mayeris the big game hunter who capured the sacred white elephant, Maryelle the courtesan, Catalina the gypsy toast of Santander, Mahoin the brigand, the murderous Doctor Hallidon, Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada and Tomolo Ki Ki the Antipodean who traversed the Earth The Comte de Villiers de l Isle Adam 1838 1889 , pioneer of the Symbolist Movement, is known for his proto science fiction works Axel 1885 and L Eve Future 1886 He also wrote many cruel tales, only a handful of which have ever been translated before this publication of The Scaffold Poet Paul Verlaine called Villiers works a genial melange of irony, metaphysics and terror and translator Brian Stableford dubs it a bizarre literary landmark Brian Stableford has publishedthan fifty novels and two hundred short stories This book is the first English language edition, and includes an authoritative introduction and historical notes.