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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The prison-like edifice of a mysterious ancient townhouse and the gloom-laden landscape of Flanders form the backdrop to this intense, unrelenting, but beautifully crafted fantasy by Belgian author Jean Ray. What ghastly message is the slowly dying Cassave (played by Orson Welles in the screen adaptation) trying to bring us? MALPERTIUS is considered one of the greatest Got...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Labor (first published 1943)
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I can't even begin to describe how much I adored this mysterious and inscrutable tale of tenebrous and awe-inspiring gloom. I saw the film about a year ago, and it left its mark on my soul, but I still was not prepared for the greatness that was this book, which was quite different from the film, from what I recall. Perhaps I shall find it in me to write a review at some point that will do Malpertuis justice, but at this point I think I just need to let the feelings it stirred within me percolat...more
I didn't have any idea what to expect before reading this but did so solely on the basis of a recommendation from someone whose judgement I trusted and I knew nothing about it or the author. But what a pleasant surprise it was.

It was quite a complex narrative structure, with four embedded narratives within the main one, and a big cast of characters that took time for me to get my head around but once I had settled in, this book was a pleasure to read. Gothic prose, macabre similes, a creepy atmo...more
Orrin Grey
Jean Ray, where have you been all my life? Malpertuis is a complex and at times confusing novel, but it's also a fantastic one, full of exactly the kind of stuff that I love in my weird fiction, as well as the kind of stuff that I love in my Gothic fiction. The ultimate solution to the mystery is obvious, but somehow getting there never feels like it is, and the whole production has such an ominous, almost apocalyptic quality that everything is carried along with a kind of breathless urgency.
My Inner Shelf
Après une rude déception lors de ma lecture des contes du whisky, j’ai retenté ma chance avec Malpertuis. J’ai passé moins de 5 heures à lire ce chef-d’oeuvre d’angoisse et de folie. Le style qui pointait déjà son nez dans l’autre livre prend ici toute son ampleur, et l’univers bariolé et fantasmagorique de Jean Ray s’épanouit sous sa plume. Un vieux riche anciennement marin lègue sur son lit de mort sa maison et sa fortune à des héritiers plus ou moins apparentés, à la condition que tous vivent...more
A wonderfully weird and humorous horror fantasy, like Poe on acid. How can you not love lines like this: "Nancy swanned into the kitchen; she preferred crepes to waffles and would tear them between her teeth like scraps of burning skin."
Malpertuis est une histoire d'horreur qui se passe dans une vieille demeure. L'oncle Cassave, un vieillard solitaire, est couché sur son lit de mort et donne un dernier commandement à sa famille : s'ils veulent toucher leur part de l'héritage, ils doivent tous venir habiter dans Malpertuis. Jusque là tout va bien, avant qu'ils réalisent que le manoir leur réserve des surprises, de bien mauvaises surprises, en fait.

Même si le concept m'attirait énormément (vous connaissez mon amour pour les maiso...more
Anna Prejanò
Gli scritti di Jean Ray me li sarei goduti molto di più se li avessi letti a vent’anni, perché ne avrei apprezzato incondizionatamente il lato fantastico e meraviglioso senza vederne i difetti, il principale dei quali è l’estrema artificiosità nella costruzione dell’intreccio, tipica anche dei racconti. Qui il classico espediente del manoscritto ritrovato serve a costruire una narrazione a più voci, che non corrispondono però a punti di vista realmente diversi e quindi non aggiungono né spessore...more
готическая, вернее было бы сказать псевдоготическая фантазия жана рэ – из разряда тех грез, которых так недостает готскому народу, – той его разновидности, которая не считает, что вся готика исчерпывается кладбищенскими утехами и изобилием черного цвета в цветочных орнаментиках из черепушек и косточек. удивительная трехчастная композиция разных как-бы-авторов, повествующих о приходе тьмы и безысходном противостоянии ночи.

и это не требует дополнительного утверждения, что ночь может быть только бе...more
Nicholas Whyte
"[return][return]This is regarded as the great work of Belgian fantasy (at least in the novel form: there are loads of Belgian comics and films with sfnal content). It's quite difficult to get hold of and I eventually picked up a copy of the 1998 Atlas Press translation on eBay. It appears at first to be about the peculiar inhabitants of the house of Malpertuis, in a city which is presumably Ghent in the dying days of Francophone supremacy; but in fact i...more
Umberto Rossi
Though I'm more of a sf reader than a lover of fantasy, I appreciate well-written fantastic fiction, and this novel by Belgian novelist Jean Ray is a real masterpiece of the genre. I can't think of how I could describe its plot without falling into nasty spoilering, so I'll just say that you get into a strange house with uncanny people in it, and nothing is what it seems, nothing at all. It starts like a dream and turns into a nightmare, with a feverish consistence and a relentless pace. Really...more
Dalla quarta di copertina leggo: "questo romanzo è il capolavoro di Jean Ray, lo scrittore che è stato definito l'erede europeo di Lovecraft". Ecco... no, proprio no. Malpertuis è un romanzuccio gotico senza infamia e senza lode, privo di quel mordente e dello spaventoso orrore cosmico del buon maestro di Providence. Irritanti i fastidiosi rimandi al cristianesimo come forza salvifica in grado di tenere in scacco le tenebre; una blasfemia del genere avrebbe fatto accapponare la pelle di Lovecraf...more
Holger Schmitt-Hallenberg
great stuff for fans of classic gothic fiction. Weird, sometimes even terrifying. Of course we recognize the influence of Lovecraft or Poe, but the setting and atmosphere (a huge house in an old, desolate belgian city)reminds even more of the european decadence, like Rodenbach's "Bruges la Morte", Meyrink, Huysmans or Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly. And I kept constantly seeing paintings of Spilliaert, while reading. I wonder if Neil Gaiman knew this novel, before he wrote "American Gods"??
My advice is, don't read anything about this book before you actually read the book. It will, at first, unfold as a strange, dark, gothic story with hints of the supernatural. It is puzzling at first but quite fascinating. In the denouement we find out what has actually been happening, and who these strange characters really are, and it is a fascinating revelation. That's all I can say without spoiling it.
Timothy Jarvis
Antic and crazed, bizarre and idiosyncratic European Gothic. A puzzle box of a novel that can probably only be opened by stomping underfoot. But no doubt best not to try...
Alessandro Kostis
Piccolo capolavoro di letteratura post gotica di un autore che in Italia non ha mai conosciuto la notorietà che gli spetta. Il topos della casa infestata tocca qui il suo apice (altro che American horror history). Copertina illustrata da Crepax.
Javier Maldonado
Tremenda novela, aunque a la mitad pierde un poco el ritmo. La revelación final es totalmente alucinante. Epic mind blow.
I don't remember much about the book but I do remember that I loved it. I guess I need to find another copy and read it again.
Amazingly wel written, and horrifying story with some scary twists in the plot. Horrybrilliant
Paul Monk
A French friend gave me this book to read. It drew me into Jean Ray's fascinating universe.
Bizarre but fascinating surreal fantasy.
Jan 11, 2010 Alan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
if I can find it..
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Raymundus Joannes de Kremer was a Flemish Belgian writer who used the pen names John Flanders and Jean Ray. He wrote both in Dutch and French.

He was born in Ghent, his father a minor port official, his mother the director of a girls' school. Ray was a fairly successful student but failed to complete his university studies, and from 1910 to 1919 he worked in clerical jobs in the city administration...more
More about Jean Ray...
Ghouls in My Grave The Horrifying Presence and Other Tales Les contes noirs du Golf My Own Private Spectres Le grand nocturne ; Les cercles de L'épouvante

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