Hot Best Seller

Tales of Mystery and Horror

Availability: Ready to download

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.


Compare

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

43 review for Tales of Mystery and Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    This book contains 26 tales of the macabre from French author Maurice Level (1875-1926), short tales, each 4 pages in length, written in the distinctively French ‘conte cruel’ tradition. Black Mask is the publisher, which is most appropriate since any of these stories could easily be included in one of those old Black Mask mystery magazines a reader could buy at the corner drug store years ago. Similar to French fin-de-siècle decadent literature, the setting for the stories is usually Paris, and This book contains 26 tales of the macabre from French author Maurice Level (1875-1926), short tales, each 4 pages in length, written in the distinctively French ‘conte cruel’ tradition. Black Mask is the publisher, which is most appropriate since any of these stories could easily be included in one of those old Black Mask mystery magazines a reader could buy at the corner drug store years ago. Similar to French fin-de-siècle decadent literature, the setting for the stories is usually Paris, and similar to 19th century romanticism, we are usually reading about the unfolding of a life-and-death issue. Level writes his stories with a particular flair – there is always a distinctive pop or twist at the end, the type of ironic twist made famous by O. Henry. With this in mind, I wouldn’t want to spoil the reader’s experience by saying too much about too many tales, so I will focus on one of the real gems in this collection, a story entitled ‘A Maniac’, which I’ve seen translated elsewhere as ‘A Madman’. This tale opens with the lines, “He was neither malicious nor bloodthirsty. It was only that he had conceived a very special idea of the pleasures of existence. Perhaps it was that, having tried them all, he no longer found the thrill of the unexpected in any of them.” We read along as the tale fleshes-out what is meant by “a very special idea of the pleasure of existence” The unnamed main character attends the theater not to watch the play but in the hope a fire will break out; visits a fair in the hope beasts will attack their trainer; attends bullfights but is disappointed since the violence is too predictable. What he is after is the unexpected thrill. But when he experiences exactly what he is after, in the aftermath of these unexpected thrills, he becoming depressed, thinking there is no more reason to continue living. Let’s pause here to ask: does this 19th century thrill-seeker anticipate an entire culture of thrill-seekers, people putting themselves or watching other people put themselves at risk on the edge for the sheer thrill of it? German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer judged our human life as an alternating between frustration and boredom. Is this seeking of thrills a radical attempt to transcend frustration and boredom? If so, this is hardly a flattering commentary on our natural capacity for joy and harmonious living. The tale continues. Our thrill-seeker sees a poster displaying a daredevil event. We read, “It seemed that the cyclist dashed down the narrow path at full speed, went up round the loop, then down to the bottom. For a second during this fantastic performance, he was head downwards, his feet up in the air.” Inspired, our thrill-seeker buys an entire box of seats at the end of the track so he can watch the daredevil cyclist night after night without distraction. But then one night after the performance the cyclist approaches him and, in the course of conversation, explains how he can accomplish his extraordinary feat by focusing on a fixed point, the fixed point being the man sitting by himself in a box at the end of the track. The next night monsieur thrill-seeker takes his usual seat. The cyclist pushes off, heading for his death-defying loop. We read, “Just at that moment, in the most natural way possible, the maniac rose, pushed back his seat, and went to one at the other side of the box. Then a terrible thing happened. The cyclist was thrown violently up in the air. His machine rushed forwards, flew up, and lurched out into the midst of the shrieks of terror that filled the hall, fell among the crowd. With a methodical gesture the maniac put on his overcoat, smoothed his hat on the cuff of his sleeve, and went out.” Like the cyclist’s daredevil full circle, the end of the tale brings readers full circle to the tale’s opening line where the main character is described as “neither malicious nor bloodthirsty”. Really? How would we characterize someone who would intentionally act in a way causing the death of others merely to have a thrill? Wicked and cruel? Malicious and bloodthirsty? Any of these words seem to fit. So, we may ask if the tale’s narrator shares in the same madness as the man he is describing; or, to put it another way, is this tale-telling the product of a diseased mind, yet again another sick flower of decadent 19th century Baudelarean evil? Max Nordau wrote an essay in 1894 where he used the term ‘decadent’ and judged many French writers and artists and a large sector of the French population as having diseased minds, that is, minds that are confused, discouraged and despairing. Perhaps, on some level, Maurice Level would agree with the confused, discouraged and despairing part, since his stories are filled with such people. Fortunately, reading his finely crafted tales is just the opposite experience: sheer enjoyment, like popping a box of expensive French chocolates in your mouth, one by one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Autoclette

    Good French fromage.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Isidore

    Level's short "contes cruels" are not only powerful in themselves, they anticipate the work of writers like James M. Cain, Nelson Algren and maybe even Hemingway. Why Level isn't better known is perhaps the biggest mystery of all. Level's short "contes cruels" are not only powerful in themselves, they anticipate the work of writers like James M. Cain, Nelson Algren and maybe even Hemingway. Why Level isn't better known is perhaps the biggest mystery of all.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Hobbs

    Read so far: *The debt collector -- The kennel --2 Who? -- Illusion -- *In the light of the red lamp -- A mistake -- Extenuating circumstances -- The confession -- *The test -- Poussette -- The father -- For nothing -- In the wheat -- The beggar -- Under chloroform -- The man who lay asleep -- Fascination -- The bastard -- That scoundrel Miron -- The taint -- The kiss -- *A maniac -- The 10.50 express -- *Blue eyes -- The empty house -- *The last kiss -- *** *Night and silence --

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paola Palma

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mellotunes

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  8. 5 out of 5

    Woolrich13

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Sass

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Suárez

  13. 5 out of 5

    Todd Fife

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bret

  15. 4 out of 5

    saturnine

  16. 5 out of 5

    Naoko Uchiyama

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Masters

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lavena

  19. 4 out of 5

    Archie M

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Gibson

  21. 5 out of 5

    !

  22. 4 out of 5

    Yehwan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Azka Nur Afifah

  24. 4 out of 5

    Larry-bob Roberts

  25. 4 out of 5

    Slickdpdx

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diane

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Keyes

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Gorski

  30. 4 out of 5

    Evans Light

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kewpie

  32. 4 out of 5

    Ceriee

  33. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  34. 4 out of 5

    Conal Cochran

  35. 4 out of 5

    Francisco Alceu

  36. 4 out of 5

    Cambria

  37. 5 out of 5

    John

  38. 4 out of 5

    Deb

  39. 5 out of 5

    Jazz Garcia

  40. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

  41. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  42. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  43. 4 out of 5

    Zoeytron

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.