The first concerted attempt to define and characterize a genre of fantasy fiction was made by Charles-Joseph Mayer between 1785 and 1789 when he published the 41 exemplary volumes of Le Cabinet des fées, ou Collection choisie des contes de fées et autres contes merveilleux [The Cabinet of the Fairies, or, Selected Collection of Fairy Tales and Other Marvelous Tales] in parallel with Charles Garnier’s Voyages imaginaires, songes, visions et romans cabalistiques [Imaginary Voyages, Dreams, Visions, and Cabalistic Fiction]. The latter is now regarded as most significant for the volumes containing imaginary voyages that can be affiliated in retrospect to the nascent genre of roman scientifique [scientific fiction] but, as the full title illustrates, it contains a good deal of material that would nowadays be considered to belong to the fantasy genre, and some of the items, such as Madame Roumier-Robert’s “Les Ondins, conte moral” (1768; tr. as “The Water-Sprites”) would have been perfectly at home in Mayer’s collection. It was, however, Mayer’s assembly that identified the two principal strands of the genre of the merveilleux as the mock folktales that became fashionable in the literary salons of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in association with the court of Louis XIV and tales written in imitation of Antoine Galland’s collection of Les Mille-et-une nuits (1707–19), which claimed to be translations of Arabian folklore, although many of the inclusions are drastically rewritten from the original manuscripts or wholly invented by Galland.
Unlike Garnier’s collection, which initially focused on novels (although the later sections identified in the full title include a considerable number of shorter works), Mayer’s collection is mostly composed of short stories, and the longest ones, which are almost all pastiches of Galland, tend to be portmanteau works rather than long, coherent narratives. Le Cabinet des fées thus leaves out of its account most of the early works in the genre of the merveilleux that might be seen in retrospect as novels such as Alain René Lesage’s satirical fantasy, Le Diable boiteux (1707; tr. as The Devil on Two Sticks). Those were, in any case, thin on the ground, because the imitation folktales making up the larger fraction of the collection are mostly short precisely because of that imitation.
There were, however, numerous attempts to develop the raw materials of folkloristic fantasy in longer narratives, and the Mayer collection contains several novellas in the 20,000 word range by such authors as Mademoiselle L’Heritier. It also contains one such story that is more than 40,000 words long and which represented a much more determined attempt on its author’s part to build a literary edifice from stock materials of considerably greater complexity. That item is all the more interesting because its author, Madame de Villeneuve, wrote another such story, also described when published as a conte, although it is 90,000 words long and is the eighteenth-century work that most closely resembles modern generic fantasy novels; it fully deserves recognition as an important experimental exercise in the application of narrative strategy to extended exercises in the fiction of the merveilleux.
Madame de Villeneuve (1685?–1755) began life as Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot, born in Paris to Protestant parents from La Rochelle. Although there is some uncertainty about her birthdate, which contemporary bibliographers were unable to discover, most modern sources claim that she was born in the same year that Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes and thus rendered French Protestants vulnerable to relentless and savage persecution from which her family undoubtedly suffered, and she must have had a difficult childhood, although no record of it survives.
Contemporary biographies of the author began to keep track of her life in 1706, when Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot was married to the much older Jean-Baptiste Gaallon de Villeneuve of Poitou, a lieutenant-colonel in the infantry, presumably in an arranged marriage. However, she requested a legal separation of their assets within six months, her husband already having squandered most of their combined fortune. In 1711 she was widowed; she had apparently given birth to a daughter, but all historical trace of her was lost, and she probably had not survived infancy. Madame de Villeneuve’s troubled life had thus experienced no great improvement when she reached maturity—quite the reverse, in fact. Soon reduced to penury, she returned to Paris in search of gainful employment. That cannot have been easy, but her situation improved somewhat in the 1730s when she met the playwright, Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon (1674–1762)—subsequently known as Crébillon père in order to differentiate him from his son, also a writer—and became his mistress. She eventually went to live with him—an unusual circumstance for the time, when most upper-class men had mistresses but very few actually moved them into their homes—and she continued to live with him until her death.
Crébillon père was a writer but he also worked as a crown censor licensing publications, so Madame de Villeneuve would have quickly become familiar via that acquaintance not only with the requirements for obtaining such licensing but also the procedures that could be followed in their absence. Most of the books that we now think of as the great works of eighteenth-century French literature were published illicitly wearing fake title pages claiming to have been printed in Amsterdam, The Hague, Geneva, or anywhere but Paris. Knowledge of the mechanics, protocols, and risks of illicit publication was important for any writer ambitious to write contes to acquire because almost all fanciful stories were routinely refused a royal license—both Mayer’s and Garnier’s collections were illicit, bearing title pages advertising publication in Amsterdam, probably falsely.
One might think that being married to a censor would have assisted Madame de Villeneuve to obtain licenses for her works, but it did not. Everything she published was unsigned and illicit. Perhaps Crébillon felt that licensing works by his mistress—his Protestant mistress—might render him vulnerable to damaging criticism and compromise his own precarious economic situation; it is not easy now to find anything in them that might be considered objectionable although it is not impossible to identify aspects that might have been considered a trifle touchy.
Illicit publication was a massive industry in eighteenth-century France, but it was by no means without awkward problems and real dangers. The authorities were forced by the sheer volume of material to be selective in choosing the books they actually pursued and prosecuted while turning a blind eye to the rest, but if anything was actually brought to their attention by complaints from agents of the State or the Church, they had at least to be seen to be taking action, and printing and selling illicit books was a hazardous occupation whose under-the-counter nature inevitably caused difficulties in marketing even the most innocuous works. Some illicit publications became best-sellers of a sort, thus giving immediate rise to pirated editions, but the probability is that hardly any of the authors ever received a significant amount of money for them, and they were almost all labors of love—but that certainly does not seem to have deterred the writers of the day.
Madame de Villeneuve’s first major publication—at least so far as we know since the fact that she worked anonymously inevitably creates difficulties in assembling an accurate bibliography—was a two-volume collection that appeared in 1740 entitled La Jeune Américaine et les Contes marins [The Young American Girl and the Tales told at Sea], signed “Madame de ***” and bearing a title page alleging that it had been printed in La Haye [The Hague]. The collection was evidently incomplete, the frame story containing the included tales breaking off abruptly and the number of stories included being fewer than the number advertised in the prefatory note. It did, however, contain one complete long story—the 40,000-word story mentioned above—which subsequently enjoyed a vast but somewhat ironic celebrity: “La Belle et la Bête” (tr. as “The Beauty and the Beast”).
Madame de Villeneuve presumably wanted and planned to continue and complete that first collection by adding further tales, but she never managed it although she published four more books after La Jeune Américaine during her lifetime. One of those four was another collection of tales, but it was given a separate title, Les Belles solitaires (1745; published anonymously, supposedly in Amsterdam), and might have repackaged material intended for a continuation of La Jeune Américaine that she judged impractical. The other three were naturalistic novels of a then-conventional stripe: Le Beau frère supposé [The Supposed Step-brother] (1752; signed Madame D. V …), La Jardinière de Vincennes [The Gardener of Vincennes] (1753; anonymous) and Le Juge prevenu [The Prejudiced Judge] (1754, anonymous), all of which bore title pages falsely claiming publication in London. In 1765, however, some ten years after the author’s death, the 1740 volumes were reprinted as the first two parts of a five-volume collection entitled Contes de Madame de Villeneuve, similarly bearing title pages claiming publication in the Hague.
The three new volumes of the expanded collection are not a genuine continuation of the earlier project; although the frame narrative is continued in a rather tokenistic fashion, the additional volumes are otherwise completely taken up by a single 90,000-word novel, “Les Nayades” (tr. as “The Naiads”). That collection, too, was obviously intended to be continued, the final page advertising the imminent continuation of the series of tales with one entitled “L’Empire du temps et le pouvoir de la patience” [The Empire of Time and the Power of Patience], which never materialized (the 1768 book entitled Le Temps et la Patience bearing Madame de Villeneuve’s signature is simply a reprint of La Jeune Américaine.) Presumably, the author had intended to work on that continuation before her death but was unable to do so.
Although there is no formal record of who it was that arranged for the posthumous publication of the 1765 Contes, and Crébillon père was dead by then, the likeliest candidate seems to be Crébillon fils (1707–1777), also a royal censor, who might well have inherited the manuscript of “Les Nayades” along with his father’s property. A further naturalistic novel published in 1757, after Madame de Villeneuve’s death, was widely attributed to her, but the author of her entry in the 1827 Biographie universelle published by Louis Gabriel Michaud flatly denies that attribution and also denies her authorship of several other tales wrongly attributed to her by various sources although he does not question her authorship of “Les Nayades” in spite of its belated date of publication. Nor had Joseph de La Porte, who included a long synopsis of the novel in the account of the author contained in his Histoire littéraire des femmes françoises (1769), although he is careful to say in that account that the other posthumous work was only “attributed” to her without endorsing her authorship of it. There was, therefore, no doubt among contemporary commentators that “Les Nayades” really is Madame de Villeneuve’s work, and for what it may be worth, having translated both stories, I don’t have an atom of doubt in my mind that the author of “La Belle et la Bête” and “Les Nayades” were the same person.
I described the success of “La Belle et la Bête”—virtually the sole basis of Madame de Villeneuve’s posthumous celebrity—as “ironic” because the version of the story with which almost everyone is familiar is not the authentic version but a drastically abridged version that was published by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711–1780) in her Magasin des Enfants—not in fact a magazine but a kind of educative manual for parents and teachers—in 1743. The shorter adaptation rapidly became far more famous than Madame de Villeneuve’s original, greatly assisted by the fact that Leprince de Beaumont’s book had a royal license and could therefore be sold openly and legally, and it is the version that has been reprinted, copied, and adapted for other media ever since. Although it is not inconceivable that Madame de Villeneuve gave her permission for the adaptation, the overwhelming probability is that it was simply stolen, Leprince de Beaumont knowing full well that, as the original was an unlicensed publication, there could be no legal grounds for complaint.
The genre of tales of the merveilleux is, of course, notoriously vulnerable to plagiarism, because part of the pretense of producing imitation folktales is the pretense that they really are old stories that are being retold. Few of the plagiarists who ripped off such stories—Charles Perrault is a cardinal example—could have done so innocently by mistaking a recent literary production for a genuine folktale. Leprince de Beaumont could not possibly have made such an error, given that Madame de Villeneuve’s version of the story is not set in the mythical “Once upon a time” of folktales but in the present day; it contains references to contemporary institutions and recent historical events in the section where the entertainments laid on for the Beauty by the Beast include “windows” that allow her to watch contemporary productions in the four major theaters of Paris, thousands of miles away—one of the most interesting innovations in the story. There is, therefore, no doubt about it: the Leprince de Beaumont version of the story, the version that so many people know and love, is a conscious and corrupt plagiarism of a far more innovative and interesting original.
Although Madame de Villeneuve’s authentic version was reprinted by Mayer in Le Cabinet des fées, it largely disappeared from view thereafter and remained difficult to find for the next 200 years. It was, however, translated into English by James Robinson Le Planché (1796–1880), supplying by far the longest item in his volume Four and Twenty Fairy Tales (1858), and Le Planché also adapted the story for the stage; his rather mannered version has been reprinted recently and is currently in print, but I thought it worth doing a new translation to accompany “The Naiads” in the forthcoming Black Coat Press translation because the juxtaposition of the two tales adds interest to both.
The Leprince de Beaumont version of “La Belle et la Bête” was, of course, also translated into English, and became the basis for numerous further adaptations, of which the best known during the nineteenth century was probably a retelling in verse published as an anonymous booklet in 1811, generally credited to Charles and Mary Lamb—although Andrew Lang doubted that attribution, and challenged it when he reprinted the poem in 1887. The principal interest of Madame de Villeneuve’s original story, however, is not so much the familiar, basic narrative that was plagiarized by Leprince de Beaumont as the supplementary material that is completely ignored in the abridged version.
The first element of that supplement, which attempts to provide a comprehensive explanation of the events detailed in the account of the Beauty’s adventure, provides an account narrated by the re-metamorphosed Beast in which he explains how he came to be transformed into a monster and why that monster was forced to act in the peculiar fashion it did in regard to the Beauty. In the second, which is even more interesting, the fay who has at last contrived the Prince’s liberation from his curse then fills in a further backstory, which explains how and for what motives a nasty-minded rival placed her in that elaborate necessity. The second backstory contains a highly original account of the organization and internal politics of the world of Faerie that is of considerable interest in itself as well as completing the explanatory schema of the enigmatic, fundamental tale.
If the last paragraph seems slightly convoluted, it is because the text throws up several difficulties of translation, some of them idiosyncratic. Firstly and most generally, there is the problem of translating the word “fée,” which most English translations render as “fairy” although a fée is, strictly speaking, an enchantress, and I prefer to translate it as “fay.” Secondly, most English translations of the Leprince de Beaumont version drop the definite article in “The Beauty” and use “Beauty” as if it were a nickname. In Madame de Villeneuve’s version, however, none of the key characters is given a name, even in the phase of the story where that becomes direly awkward because more than one character on stage simultaneously has to be described as “the Queen” and more than one as “the fay.” It is particularly pertinent with respect to the two leading players because there is a definite sense in which the heroine really does seem to be the Beauty and the problematic hero really is the Beast—which is why, when that character is a Beast, I elected in my translation always to refer to it as “it,” only switching back to “he” once the character is remetamorphosed.
That final election is also encouraged because not only is the Beast not given a name even in his human form, he is not given a description either. The corrupt version of “La Belle et la Bête” included in the 1743 Magasin des Enfants is illustrated, and the illustrations depict the Beast as a large dog, but the story lends no encouragement to that depiction, and it does not correspond at all with the only four specific details contained in the original story, which are that the Beast is equipped with something resembling an elephant’s trunk, that it has scales that rattle, that it has paws instead of hands, and that it is extremely heavy. Later images that equip the creature with an animalesque head but a more-or-less human body—including the illustrations in Le Planché’s Four and Twenty Fairy Tales—have no warrant in either version. That deliberate omission adds further weight to the thesis that the character is intended as a kind of archetypal and general representation of bestiality and not as any specific or recognizable kind of animal.
By far the most complex element of the explanatory schema devised by the author is, however, the account she has to construct of the motivation of the various fays active in the story, necessarily supposing as background a notion of the fundamental relationship between humans and fays, the strange laws under which the latter operate, and the personal problems that arise for some of them as a result of their situation, the laws in question, and occasional abuses of those laws. That constitutes a radical transformation of the traditional narrative employment of fays, which routinely uses them as arbitrary plot levers whose motives are usually reduced to a simple bipolarity between good fays and evil fays without any further explanation of their benevolence, malevolence, or rivalry. In short stories, that is easy enough to do because there is no room for elaborate explanations, but in a novel the expanded narrative space at least encourages, if it does not actually demand, a greater accountability.
Not all writers accept the challenge of that accountability, of course, and a certain amount of arbitrariness and incoherence survives in many modern fantasy novels. But Madame de Villeneuve was clearly fascinated by the possibility and the logical requirement of trying to make sense of fays and their seemingly peculiar and sometimes perverse ways of dealing with humans. Some of her improvisations are undoubtedly bizarre—notably the idea that a fay can gain seniority and kudos in her own rule-bound society by undergoing a temporary metamorphosis into a snake—but the complexity of her fay society is a fascinating exercise in exotic ingenuity.
The contrasts between the Leprince de Beaumont version of “La Belle et la Bête” and the authentic version help to show up other interesting features of Madame de Villeneuve’s narrative strategy. The Magasin des Enfants version is harsher in its moral retributions, punishing the Beauty’s jealous sisters (reduced to two from the original five) by turning them into statues. The Beauty in the authentic version, however, even though her harsh treatment by her nasty sisters is more sustained and more hypocritical, is relentless in forgiving them and refuses to permit them to suffer any punishment at all—a philosophy of moral procedure taken to an unusual extreme in “Les Nayades” where it comes under extensive hypothetical scrutiny.
Then too, in the abridged Leprince de Beaumont version, once the Beauty has succeeded in bringing about the Beast’s remetamorphosis into a prince, his marriage to the Beauty is unproblematic. In the original version, however, that marriage is initially judged impossible in spite of the Prince’s urgent insistence, because his mother considers it completely out of the question for her son marry a commoner no matter what she has done for him, and the Prince judges it impossible to defy his mother’s wishes because responsibility to parental authority is absolutely paramount—another moral principle taken to a further extreme and subjected to hypothetical scrutiny in “Les Nayades.” It is only because the good fay contrives to prove and explain the Beauty’s hitherto-unsuspected royalty that the marriage can take place.
A third difference is that Leprince de Beaumont is a trifle coy about the demand that the Beast is obliged by his curse to make of the Beauty in order to secure his redemption, but the original is very specific and blunt: he has to ask her point blank to permit him to couche [go to bed, although routinely used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse] with her, and she has to agree to do exactly that, even though she fears that the Beast’s enormous weight will break the bed and crush her in the process. It is not impossible that that element of the story might have attracted the attention of the censors and thus ruled out the possibility of legal publication, but it is more likely that the original text would have raised objections from the church because the story contains no reference whatsoever to God or religion and is an implicitly atheistic narrative.
That omission might be considered from a distance as a delicate diplomatic omission on the part of a Protestant writer working in a sternly Catholic country, but the representatives of the Catholic Church would undoubtedly have seen the matter differently. The absence of religion from the Magasin des Enfants version is less obvious, and that version was, in any case, packaged within a stubbornly and extravagantly pious frame narrative, which includes numerous versions of stories from the Old Testament retold in a manner to which no Catholic clergyman would have objected.
In spite of its length, “Les Nayades” is in some ways less radical in its reconstructions of the traditional narrative form of the conte merveilleux than “La Belle et la Bête,” being set in a vague, distant past and relegating explicit demands for sexual intercourse to a subplot, albeit one that involves miscegenation between a human and a gnomide (a female gnome). It also addresses the diplomatic problem of godliness differently, the author equipping her fictitious realm with a pagan religion honoring “divinities” based on elemental spirits although she substitutes naiads borrowed from Greek mythology, who are exclusively female, for the ondins and ondines that usually feature as water sprites in the French version of the “Paracelsian” schema, alongside gnomes and gnomides and sylphes and sylphides. Madame de Villeneuve also adds Hellenic hamadryads to her schema, similarly all female.
The principal plot of “Les Nayades” also closely echoes traditional contes de fées in its elements and motifs, containing plangent echoes of “Cendrillon” [the French version of “Cinderella”]. A relentlessly forgiving King whose nickname is obligingly translated into French by the notional narrator as Bon et Rebon, which my translation renders as Good and Better (Good and Plusgood would have carried unfortunate Orwellian overtones), is deposed by a treacherous usurper and forced to flee with his virtuous daughter, Lisimene, with a price on their heads. After wandering for a long time, they finally find refuge with the widow of a former slave who had been fortunate enough to inherit his master’s farm. The widow treats them well while they still have money but pressures the King in the meantime into marrying her and turns shrewish when his money runs out. She is far outdone in her persecutions, however, by her spectacularly ugly daughter, Pigrieche, who loathes the beautiful Lisimene; the latter is forced to become a shepherdess in order to earn her keep and is contemptuously renamed Liran. Perennially under threat of being turned in to the usurper, which will result in her beloved father’s death—a fate that worries her more than her own although her father naturally reverses the priority—Lisimene is forced to undergo relentless humiliation and is set a series of seemingly impossible tasks she can only complete with supernatural aid.
The rewards that Liran brings back from those missions encourages her peevish persecutor to attempt to imitate them with disastrous results that further increase her hatred. Pigrieche’s malice reaches a peak when Liran meets a handsome stranger that her rival also covets avidly and whom eventually turns out to be Prince Perfect, the usurper’s estranged son, banished for his inability to tolerate his father’s treasons and cruelties. With the aid of the naiads who befriend Lisimene, the two heroes and the heroine triumph over all external adversity, but as in “La Belle et la Bête” the culminating marriage runs into difficulties again because of a conflict with parental duty, which requires a gnomide to step in and play the rescuing role played by the fay in the earlier story, by means of a similar narrative move.
The most drastic exaggeration of one of the peculiarities of the earlier story, however, is the manner in which heroic characters incessantly refuse to take any revenge or inflict any punishment on the individuals who have persecuted them horribly and tried repeatedly to contrive their deaths. In “Les Nayades” that policy of relentlessly turning the other cheek is called into question although the judgment on its lack of wisdom, at least on the part of rulers intent on maintaining law and order, is intriguingly ambivalent. The policy is, however, not represented as Christian at all, there being no trace in the story of any worship but that of the elementary divinities, so the story might well have been regarded with a somewhat jaundiced eye by censors who were supposed to be defending the Church as well as the State from seditious notions.
The unusual length of “Les Nayades” permits the development of a robust plot that is considerably less fragmented than the plot of “La Belle et la Bête” and is presented in a linear fashion. The interruptions to the narrative by subsidiary stories filling in useful background—the most important one being the strange backstory of the custodian of the Mill of Misfortune, whose many ways of deterring visitors Lisimene has to circumvent—are far more economical than those in the earlier story and neatly integrated into the plot. That smooth integration—further enhanced by the fact that the 90,000-word narrative does not contain a single text break—does have the side effect of making the organization and politics of the elemental societies far less detailed and intricate than the construction of fay society in “La Belle et la Bête,” but what the reader does learn about gnomide mores and yearnings is interesting. It is also notable in that particular regard that the author goes to some trouble to emphasize the possibility of loving sexual relationships between handsome humans and gnomides, to which the extreme ugliness of the latter is no barrier, and in which no metamorphosis is required to make the monstrous marriageable.
The traditional equivalence between ugliness and moral depravity is maintained in the characterization of the appalling Pigrieche, but even there the development of the story at novel length permits and to some extent requires a more elaborate and detailed characterization of her unfortunate personality and her relationship with her mother. Their own backstory, while not excusing their faults, does attempt to explain their psychology in terms of their origins and history. Similarly, the author goes to considerable lengths to explain Perfect’s character and the strange hostility of his mother in terms of their personal histories and thus adds far greater depth to the interplay of the characters that shapes the plot than would have been possible in a shorter work, even one far less packed with incident.
None of the previous works that qualify in retrospect as early fantasy novels had attempted that kind of depth of characterization, generally owing their length to other narrative devices and strategies; Madame de Villeneuve was a genuine pioneer in that regard, all the more admirable because she was working in extremely hostile circumstances and did not live to see the belated publication of the second of her two most innovative works—which might very easily have been lost forever.
Madame de Villeneuve has suffered the fate to which numerous female writers of her era were subjected—including some who had fewer prejudicial strikes against them than she had—in being largely ignored by historians and critics, and her fantasies have faded almost entirely from view. Her contes were handicapped in attracting the attention of subsequent anthologists not only by their poor distribution but also by their length; those in the totally neglected Les Belles solitaires are also novellas rather than short stories. In terms of their content, however, it is obvious to the modern eye that she was at least as enterprising and as interesting as any other writer in her problematic genre, far more so than those whose greater orthodoxy facilitated licensed publication.
Modern feminists have not taken up her cause, some of them, in fact, asserting that “La Belle et la Bête”—which they tend to know only in the corrupted version—sends entirely the wrong message to girls in need of future liberation from masculine bestiality, but she is a far more complicated and more sophisticated writer than a superficial reading of the Beauty/Beast motif implies. It is notable that the source of vigor, enterprise, and moral fortitude in her work is always female, albeit mostly associated on the side of virtue with unhuman females such as fays, naiads, hamadryads, and gnomides whose support is vital to human women, partly because the latter tend to be hesitant in action because of socially conditioned moral scruples to which fays and elementals are not subject.
Even the human women tend to be stronger than their male counterparts, however; in that regard, even Perfect is noticeably less than perfect. On the side of villainy, the strongest and most determined characters are all female, but it is notable that even the most awful paragons of malevolence are carefully provided with explanatory motivations; no one in Madame de Villeneuve’s work, male or female, is simply evil.
Madame de Villeneuve’s main strength as a writer, however, and the main interest she retains for modern readers do not lie in her sexual and social politics, which are admittedly and understandably old-fashioned now even though they were not devoid of challenge in their epoch, but in the nature and intensity of her imagination. She was one of a number of eighteenth-century writers whose involvement with contes merveilleux was inquisitive and analytical, interested in experimenting with the deployment of the narrative implements of such tales, studying their logic, and extrapolating their use.
Such experimental work has been done with far more sophistication and expertise by modern writers, but that does not detract from Madame de Villeneuve’s status and achievements as a pioneer who helped lay groundwork on which countless future writers were to build, and whose endeavors remain enjoyable as well as fascinating. In that regard, particularly, her neglect is unfortunate, and the fact that one of her two masterpieces was eclipsed by an inferior and corrupt copy while the other was never reprinted after its initial appearance in 1765 is something of a tragedy.
Brian Stableford lives in a castle of many rooms, all of them wondrous and dangerous.