THE HORRIFYING PRESENCE AND OTHER TALES
by Jean Ray
Translation and Introduction by António Monteiro
Cover art: Johnny Bekaert
Publication Date: March 2009
Sewn hardcover, limited to 300 copies, 305pp with end papers and a black and white frontispiece
Ever since that unfortunate incident at the Babel Tower, language differences have often constituted a serious barrier to the ecumenical diffusion of literary works in their original forms. Even if we restrict ourselves to European – or even Western European – literary production, English-speaking readers will often be unable to read books by French or German authors, French-speaking readers will have difficulty with the works of British authors, and so forth. Unless, of course, someone actually produces a translation. In the field of the supernatural – or to use a more general and mostly continental term, the "fantastic" – literature, a number of masters have left their indelible imprint. Names such as Bram Stoker, M. R. James, E. F. Benson, H. P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and (fortunately) many others, readily spring to mind, from the Anglo-Saxon world alone; outside that language-sphere, however, and of much the same stature, we find authors such as Claude Seignolle, Gérard de Nerval, Erckmann-Chatriam, Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Owen and of course Jean Ray.
Jean Ray (Jean-Raymond-Marie De Kremer, 1887-1964 ; aka John Flanders, etc.) was a prolific Belgian author whose pen left us a varied oeuvre, ranging from journalism to adventure stories for youngsters and including a large number of gems of the fantastic, not least the well-known novel Malpertuis, which was adapted to the cinema in 1971 by Harry Kümel. Despite De Kremer's well deserved prestige among French and Belgian audiences – although part of his texts were originally written in Flemish, the "Jean Ray" fantastic and supernatural were in French and have appeared largely during the Second World War: Le Grand Nocturne (1942), La Cité de l'Indicible Peur, Malpertuis, Les Cercles de L'Epouvante (all 1943), Les Derniers Contes de Canterbury (1944) and Le Livre des Fantômes (1947) – the work of Jean Ray is still far from well known by Anglo-Saxon audiences. A couple of published anthologies rapidly went out of stock, preventing new generations of readers from getting acquainted with it.
That is a great pity indeed, since few writers have succeeded in creating the same ambiance of suffocating anguish, often with more than a touch of the surrealistic, than the old master from Ghent. His stories range from the straight, classic supernatural tale (Le Guardien du Cimetière) to the macabre (Dents d'or), the bizarre (La Scolopendre) and even science-fiction (Le Formidable Secret du Pôle). Whether or not already familiar with the writings of Jean Ray, this new collection of short stories will not fail to impress, enchant and excite readers interested in weird fiction. And those who meet the author for the first time will have the gratification of discovering a true master of the genre. An indispensable volume for any cognoscenti of the fantastic.
Introduction by António Monteiro
The Story of the Wûlkh
I Have killed Alfred Heavenrock
The Inn of Spectres
The Black Mirror
The Graveyard Guardian
The Man Who Dared
The Night at Camberwell
The Head of Mr. Ramberger
The Bench and the Door
In the Fenn Marshes
Between Two Glasses
The Monsters at the Window
The White Beast
The Horrifying Presence
Rounde Dance at Koenigstein
The Formidable Secret of the Pole
House for Sale
M. Wohlmut and Franz Benschneider
The Night at Pentoville
God, You and I . . .
The Moustiers Plate
The Prettiest Little Girl in the World
The Wedding of Mademoiselle Bonvoisin
The Horrifying Presence and Other Tales is a sewn hardcover book of 305 pages with endpapers and a black and white frontispiece. Edition limited to 300 copies. $45 inc. p&p to Europe and USA, $50 to the rest of the world.
Other Ex Occidente Titles by Jean Ray
The City of the Strange Fear and Other Tales of Harry Dickson
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