Alphonse, a young Walloon officer, is travelling to join his regiment in Madrid in 1739. But he soon finds himself mysteriously detained at a highway inn in the strange and varied company of thieves, brigands, cabbalists, noblemen, coquettes and gypsies, whose stories he records over sixty-six days. The resulting manuscript is discovered some forty years later in a sealed casket, from which tales of characters transformed through disguise, magic and illusion, of honour and cowardice, of hauntings and seductions, leap forth to create a vibrant polyphony of human voices. Jan Potocki (1761-1812) used a range of literary styles - gothic, picaresque, adventure, pastoral, erotica - in his novel of stories-within-stories, which, like the Decameron and Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, provides entertainment on an epic scale.
|Publication date:||7th March 1996|
|Author:||Jan Potocki, Ian MacLean|
|Publisher:||Penguin Classics an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd|
|Categories:||Classic fiction (pre c 1945),|
Jan Potocki was born in Poland in 1761 into a very great aristocratic family, which owned vast estates. He was educated in Geneva and Lausanne, served twice in the army, and spent some time as a novice Knight of Malta. During his lifetime he was an indefatigable traveller and travel-writer, an Egyptologist and pioneering ethnologist, an occultist and an historian of the pre-Slavic peoples. He was a political activist and probably a freemason, although he seems to have espoused a bafflingly wide range of political causes, some of them patriotic. Among his other exploits were an ascent in a balloon over ...More About Jan Potocki, Ian MacLean