By Jan Potocki
A literary masterpiece by way of a Polish visitor, aristocratic adventurer, political activist, ethnographer and publisher
Alphonse, a tender Walloon officer, is traveling to hitch his regiment in Madrid in 1739. yet he quickly unearths himself mysteriously detained at a street hotel within the unusual and sundry corporation of thieves, brigands, cabbalists, noblemen, coquettes and gypsies, whose tales he documents over sixty-six days. The ensuing manuscript is came across a few 40 years later in a sealed casket, from which stories of characters reworked via hide, magic and phantasm, of honour and cowardice, of hauntings and seductions, jump forth to create a colourful polyphony of human voices. Jan Potocki (1761-1812) used quite a number literary kinds - gothic, picaresque, event, pastoral, erotica - in his novel of stories-within-stories, which, just like the Decameron and Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, offers leisure on an epic scale.
For greater than seventy years, Penguin has been the major writer of vintage literature within the English-speaking global. With greater than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents an international bookshelf of the easiest works all through historical past and throughout genres and disciplines. Readers belief the sequence to supply authoritative texts improved by way of introductions and notes via exotic students and modern authors, in addition to updated translations by means of award-winning translators.
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They soon started up again, however. The inn rang to the sound of the castanets played by the maids, who danced to the raucous singing of a goatherd. Travellers made each other’s acquaintance and invited each other to supper. Everyone gathered round the stove, said who they were, where they were going and sometimes told stories. Those were the good old days; now our inns are more comfortable, but the boisterous social life which the travellers of those days led had a charm I cannot describe to you.
My mother, who believed that one couldn’t do too much to ward off the tedium of harem life, saw with pleasure that we had acquired a taste for occupying ourselves. She summoned from Mecca a saintly person whose very name, Hazareta, meant ‘most holy’. Hazareta taught us the law of the prophet in that pure and harmonious language which the tribe of Koraish12 speak. We could never grow tired of listening to her, and we learned by heart almost all the Koran. Then my mother taught us herself about the history of our family, and placed in our hands a great number of memoirs, some in Arabic, some in Spanish.
Señor,’ the innkeeper said, ‘a young military gentleman such as yourself will permit me to point out that if the king has entrusted him with a company of Walloon Guards at an age at which his chin is still as smooth as a girl’s, it would be wise of him to show prudence in such matters; now I maintain that once devils have taken over part of the country…’ He would have gone on, but I spurred my horse forward and did not stop until I thought I was out of earshot of his protestations. Only then did I turn round, and saw that, though distant, he was still indicating by his gesticulations that I should take the Estramadura road.