Title: The Kiss of the Unborn, and Other Stories.
Publisher: University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN
Publication Date: 1977
Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included
Edition: First Edition USA , so stated.
First Edition USA , so stated. Very Near Fine in Very Near Fine DJ: Both book and DJ show only minute indications of use. The Book shows a sticker at the upper corner of the flyleaf and sticker shadow at the upper corner of the front free endpaper; the binding is square and secure; the text is clean. The DJ shows only the mildest rubbing; unclipped; mylar-protected. Overall, very close to 'As New'. NOT a Remainder, Book-Club, or Ex-Library. 8vo. 214pp. Translated with an Introduction by Murl G. Barker. Hardback with DJ. According to Murl G. Barker, the translator of these stories, "critics, in attempting to assess Sologub as an important figure in the modernist movement, have named him Russia's only true decadent, Russia's Baudelaire, Russia's Marquis de Sade." While I think the reference to de Sade is overblown, Fedor Sologub (1863-1927) does strike me as the most pessimistic, world-wearied, and sexually perverse Russian writer of the Silver Age. His contemporaries including Leonid Andreyev, Zinaida Hippius, and Valery Bryusov, not lightweights themselves, nevertheless do not traverse the obsession with death, a key theme in decadence, with as much morbid passion as Sologub does. Sologub's outlook is one of unrelenting pessimism, hatred of reality, and misanthropy. As evidenced in almost every denouement in these short stories, death is the best answer to everything, but until then, we would do well to create our own fantasies or "legends" to escape from reality; he also despises the mundane, the daily routine of existence, and the deplorable and cruel nature of mankind. While a whole roster of decadent writers have embraced death as a comforting final release, Sologub's obsession with death is so romanticized and religious that he really stands out as the "Bard of Death" that he labeled himself with. What is particularly shocking about Sologub's treatment of death is his focus on children. More than half of the protagonists in this collection of short stories are children and without spoiling too much, many of them face death with disturbing realism. Indeed, every story that puts children in danger seems probable, even in one story in which children are outright slain and mutilated, and in another when they are crushed to death in explicit detail. Bottom line: Fans of decadent literature will find a wellspring of morbid and bleak short stories here. The translations by Barker are excellent and this is the best and most recent collection of Sologub's short stories. For further exploration of Sologub, I would recommend Petty Demon (Encounters) and especially The Dedalus Book of Russian Decadence: Perversity, Despair and Collapse. Bookseller Inventory # 44258
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