THE PALE APE AND OTHER PULSES by M.P. Shiel, Introduction by Brian Stableford. Leyburn, North Yorkshire, UK; Tartarus Press; 2006. 1st edition hardcover.
A contemporary of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Machen and Count Stenbock, Matthew Phipps Shiel could surpass any of them in the sheer Decadent luxuriance of his writing. Originally collected in 1911, the ten stories of The Pale Ape and Other Pulses date from the mid 1890s into the first decade of the twentieth century, providing a fascinating cross-section of Shiel's evolving literary work in a rapidly changing cultural climate.
'Pulses' have been defined as 'a stroke; an impact; also an attack'. Shiel's mastery of this subversive technique, one of the hallmarks of the conte cruel, is amply demonstrated in 'Huguenin's Wife' and 'The Spectre-Ship', tales of relentlessly-unfolding doom, while 'The House of Sounds' (an updated version of 'Vaila' from Shapes in the Fire, 1896), and 'The Great King' are triumphantly Poesque explorations of morbid decay. 'Cummings King Monk' is Shiel's equally subversive take on the crime story genre, while 'Bundle of Letters' and 'The Bride' are warped romances hinging on confused identities and dramatic transformations of personality. The title story, 'The Pale Ape', is a ghost story with a tragic denouement set in an English country house, and also a magnificently atmospheric adventure of confused identity and abnormal psychology.
Acknowledged authority on the Decadent movement, Brian Stableford provides a new Introduction to this first republication of M.P. Shiel's The Pale Ape, which will enhance the reputation of one of the most original exponents of fin de siècle Decadence.
Contents: 'Introduction by Brian Stableford, 'The Pale Ape', 'The Case of Euphemia Raphash', 'Cummings King Monk', 'A Bundle of Letters', 'Huguenin's Wife', 'Many a Tear', 'The House of Sounds', 'The Spectre-Ship', 'The Great King' and 'The Bride.'
The Pale Ape and Other Pulses is a sewn hardback of 211+ xiv pages. Limited to 300 copies. Fine in fine dj.