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Malpertuis cover image, Malpertuis. Jean Ray. Atlas Anti-Classics 5. Translated and Introduced by Iain White. ISBN 0 98 8 pp 19 x 17cm, out of print. Jean Ray’s novel Malpertuis is a strange little book indeed. It’s not immediately obvious wherein lies the strangeness, but don’t despair. Malpertuis by Jean Ray – book cover, description, publication history.

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Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you’ll like this book. It’s a really, really bizarre book. About half way through the book I was thinking, “What the fuck? Has this guy been taking crazy pills? However, by the end of the book the events and their delirious quality started to make sense.

The book is a mystery of sorts. He bequeaths all of his enormous fortune to those present on one condition: Do to the vast inheritance they’re all to receive they unanimously decide to move to the mansion.

The estate is a cold, dark, and dreary place. Jean Ray goes out of his way describing it’s gothic features.

Then things really get bizarre. The story is told from the point of view of a young man, Jean-Jacques. The events unfold with a dream-like quality. You can’t tell whether things are really happening or imaginary.

It’s like reading the narrative of a crazy person, but it works! As aforementioned, most of the book I was really confused until I found out the underlying cause of the strange events.

Basically Cassave was rya a powerful occultist and alchemist. He discovered that many the ancient gods still lived, but in a very weakened form. Malprrtuis finds the real Mt. Olympus and takes the surviving gods as captives. Most only have the faintest traces of their powers, if at all, and are existing in a state of amnesia. He brings them back to Europe and creates identities for them as friends and family. They’ve forgotten who they once were all together — well, most of them anyway.

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Cassave realized it’s in the god’s nature to play out dramas which is why he has them all come together to live within Malpertuis where they can unknowingly act out predestined fates.

Since they’re all living in a non-human reality things like time and logic don’t always flow the way they would for us. Hence the dream-like Symbolist style, as gods are really nothing more than symbols of forces anyway.

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Only later when you start to put 2 and 2 together and figure out who each character really is in the Greek pantheon does the actions and events begin to make sense. The book can be read on many different levels. Everything is meant to symbolize something. Malpertuis itself is a manifestation of Pergatory or perhaps even Tartarus.

Sure, it all made sense jalpertuis the end, but there should have been more clues earlier on so that I could have picked up the symbolism. I really had no idea they were gods until near the end of the book. Some parts are still confusing to me.


Apparently the lead narrator there are a few different narrators Jean-Jacques is a Hercules-like character, half mortal and half god. However he’s a new hero and Cassave’s grandson. He’s thrown into the drama to fulfill his newly created destiny. It’s quite difficult to get hold of and I eventually picked up a copy of the Atlas Press translation on eBay.

It appears at first to be about the peculiar inhabitants of the house of Malpertuis, in a city which is presumably Ghent in the dying days of Francophone supremacy; but in fact it turns into a peculiar confrontation between the organised Catholic church and the gods of ancient Greece.

My edition makes the inevitable link with H. Ray is not quite as terrifying as Lovecraft though fairly gruesome in placesand he is certainly not as cheerful as Stephens, but he does add a certain level of surrealist incomprehensibility to the mix that is appropriate for a slightly older contemporary of Magritte, who like Magritte stayed in Belgium and wrote this book during the German occupation.


Certainly an malperfuis read for sf fans interested in Belgium, or Belgians interested in literary sf. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist.

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Malpertuis by Jean Ray Other authors: See the other authors section. Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Mentions 6 70, 4 Add to Your books. No current Talk conversations about this book. I just didn’t get the point of the whole thing, and while the atmosphere was creepy nothing at all happened and I got bored of it.

Malpertuisis is a “Romantic grotesque”. Status Jean Ray — primary author all editions calculated White, Iain Translator secondary author all editions confirmed White, Iain Introduction secondary author all editions confirmed Lampo, Hubert Translator secondary author some editions confirmed.

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But I shall be keeping the memoir. The owe me that much. References to this work on external resources. Wikipedia in English None. No library descriptions found. Amazon Kindle 0 editions. CD Audiobook 0 editions.

Malpertuis by Jean Ray

Project Gutenberg 0 editions. Google Books — Loading Become a LibraryThing Author. For more help see the Common Knowledge help page. Marabout Geant Atlas Anti-Classics 5.