Surreysmum's Reviews > Library Of The World's Best Mystery And Detective Stories

Library Of The World's Best Mystery And Detective Stories by Julian Hawthorne
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Jul 02, 12

bookshelves: 2012, mystery, e-version, fantasy-fiction, gothic, classics-in-translation
Read in June, 2012

This rather bizarre little item from Kindle's free smorgasbord is in fact the fourth volume (French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, all in translation of course) of what looks like a highly idiosyncratic international compilation of what Poe would have called Tales of Mystery (&/or Terror) and Tales of Ratiocination, with the emphasis - in this volume at least - heavily on the supernatural and terrible, and the 'detective' side really only there to support Hawthorne's dubious claim of Voltaire's Zadig as a sort of early detective. (At best, he's a rational man in Voltaire's wildly satirical irrational world). Hawthorne devotes at least a quarter of his volume to short stories by de Maupassant, most of them very slight. I was intrigued by Balzac's take on Maturin's "Melmoth" - fan fiction of the most sophisticated kind! Balzac rather cynically proposes that the dread exchange of the soul for worldly favours would, if allowed to be exchanged from one man to another, itself degrade for smaller and smaller rewards, and he works this through in his story. I wouldn't mind browsing through the other five volumes, but only if I found them in their proper 1907-1908 format in a library or second-hand bookshop, rather than the faceless, characterless, carelessly scanned version for Kindle. Reading the stories this way made me rather sad.

The compilation was published in 1907-1908 by the Review of Reviews in New York, and one volume contains the first publication of a story by Irish author Fitzjames O'Brien, so it wasn't just a cheap money-making compilation of out-of-copyright stuff.

The six volumes are: American --
English, Scotch --
English, Irish --
French, Italian, etc. --
German, Russian, etc. --
Oriental, modern magic.

and a conscientious librarian (bless their hearts!) has done a further breakdown of the volumes, as follows: American: J. Hawthorne, F.M. Crawford, M.E.W. Freeman, M.D. Post, A. Bierce, E.A. Poe, W. Irving, C.B. Brown. English-Scotch: R. Kipling, E. Castle, R.L. Stevenson, A.C. Doyle, S. Weyman, W. Collins, and others. English-Irish: F. O'Brien, Bulwer-Lytton, T. De Quincey, C.R. Maturin, L. Sterne, W.M. Thackeray, and others. French-Italian-Spanish-Latin: Maupassant, Mille, Adam, Erckmann-Chatrian, Balzac, Voltaire, Alarçon, Capuana, Apulcius, Pliny, the Younger. German-Russian-Scandinavian: G. Meyrink, P. Heyse, F. Hoffman, V. Krestovski, O. Larssen, D. Theden, W. Hauff, A. Chekhoff, J. Bergsoe, B. Ingemann, S.S. Blicher. Oriental: Arabic, Japanese, Persian, Turkish, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese. True stories of modern magic.


It's in the Goodreads header, but just for the record, here's the contents of the volume I read, as pulled from Worldcat: Necklace, The ; Uncomfortable bed, An ; Ghosts ; Fear ; Confession, The ; Horla, The ; Man with the pale eyes / de Maupassant, Guy --
Miracle of Zobeide, The / Mille, Pierre --
Torture of hope / de L'Isle Adam, Villiers --
Owl's ear, The ; Invisible eye, The ; Waters of death, The / Erckmann, Chatrain --
Melmoth reconciled ; Conscript, The / de Balzac, Honore --
Zadig the Babylonian / Voltaire, Jean Francois Marie Arouet de --
Nail, The / de Alarcon, Perdo --
Desposition, The / Capuana, Luigi --
Adventure of the three robbers, The / Apuleius, Lucius --
Letter to Sura / Pliny, the Younger.
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