All'origine, il genere poliziesco era considerato una buona palestra per i giovani scrittori: un paradigma rigido da declinare in varianti personali. Con questo spirito, nel 1895, il giovane Matthew Phipps Shiel (amico di Wilde e Beardsley; destinato alla fama, poi, col fantastico e visionario La nubepurpurea), scrive Il principe Zalesky e crea il suo personaggio: il primoAll'origine, il genere poliziesco era considerato una buona palestra per i giovani scrittori: un paradigma rigido da declinare in varianti personali. Con questo spirito, nel 1895, il giovane Matthew Phipps Shiel (amico di Wilde e Beardsley; destinato alla fama, poi, col fantastico e visionario La nubepurpurea), scrive Il principe Zalesky e crea il suo personaggio: il primo, e forse l'unico, detective secondo i canoni fin de siècle. Esule dalla patria russa per amore, misantropo isolato nella torre di un maniero inglese decorata nel gusto - diremmo noi - dannunziano, coltissimo e fragile, il principe si dedica a studi di orientalistica e misteriosofia. É un esteta decadente: e s'annoia. Soprattutto quando il suo «Watson» (questi racconti sono anche in concorrenza con Sherlock Holmes, da poco nato allora e già popolarissimo) gli propone casi da risolvere, per pura via d'intuizione e d'intelletto, e di preveggenza quasi magica. Di essi Zalesky trasceglie solo quei delitti che davvero rientrerebbero in una delle belle arti....
|Title||:||Il principe Zaleski|
|Number of Pages||:||144 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Il principe Zaleski Reviews
If Huysmans or Wilde had created a detective based on Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, he might have looked a lot like Prince Zaleski. Both the prose and the atmosphere are charmingly decadent; the plots, however,are silly and ridiculously intricate. In addition, the solutions to the crimes often involve arcane knowledge, and so really don't play fair with the reader. I liked this book, but can't really recommend it. It is nowhere near as good as Shiel's "The Purple Cloud."
If you find Holmes and Poirot insufficiently cerebral, a little too everyday action hero, then Zaleski is the detective for you. Exiled and lovelorn, he broods alone (but for a black manservant, of whom frankly the less said the better) in a wing of a ruined abbey set among cypresses and poplars. We first see him reclining beside a partially-unwrapped mummy, "discarding his gemmed chibouque and an old vellum reprint of Anacreon". From the opulent, narcotic haze of this sanctum he declines to shift for the first two adventures, unravelling otherwise insoluble mysteries of ancestral curses and ancient gems simply from what is reported to him by the narrator Shiel, who might thus be considered a far more poetically-inclined Watson. Shiel considered himself Doyle's superior, and the solutions are exactly the sort of thing someone might come up with when they're trying to outdo Holmes but haven't twigged the very precise - if indefinable - limits of fairness in a puzzle; everything hinges on word association, dubious scholarship and the like, such that the reader's reaction is less likely to be 'Good heavens!' that 'You what?' But in Holmes the intricate solutions were only ever part of the appeal, and in Zaleski they're barely even that. It's the atmosphere that matters. And in the last of these three original stories*, that atmosphere is whipped into such a ferment that you start to wonder if Shiel (the writer) was receiving some distorted yet overwhelming vision of the future. True, there is the line at which one can only respond with a hollow laugh, where Zaleski tells his friend that war will doubtless be extinct within their lifetimes. But otherwise...an epidemic of murder and insanity which begins in Germany. Eugenic tirades. Visions of a future society in which technological advancement goes hand-in-hand with sacrificial hecatombs devoted to preserving the purity of the race. And the story is entitled 'The S.S.'. I'm quite glad the series was abandoned there; I fear what might have followed. *A fourth followed decades later, but by all accounts it's best avoided.
Its not just in modern times that detective shows need a gimmick. Whether the protagonist is an anthropologist, coroner, cook, author, deception expert, hyperthymesia sufferer, vampire etc. You always need some unique angle on the detective, well as i said, this is not a recent phenomenon.This is a set of three detective mysteries which can only be solved by Prince Zaleski the worlds greatest historian! Its no wonder there's only three given the problems inherent with coming up with cases only solvable by a historian. The first two are ok but the third is REALLY good. Its on such a larger scale than the other cases. Overall this is a decent set of mysteries.
I dislike the term 'guilty pleasure', as I don't see the reason to feel guilty about enjoying anything, but M. P. Shiel is likely the worst classic horror writer I am a fan of. He pillages from Poe so liberally that his work would seem objectionable plagiarism if Poe were not so famous as to be impossible to overshadow. If Shiel did this with a lesser known writer it would seem repugnant. I found this book to be fun because of the ornate decadent prose and the absurdity of the the title character, but it isn't a good book. The first two mysteries are yet more attempts of Shiel's to ape The Fall of the House of Usher, this time with Dupin/Holmes added to the mix. The third story is, surprisingly, quite atmospheric and gripping in places. One good story out of three just isn't a great ratio for a short story collection. If you want a Shiel starter book, check out his exquisite The Purple Cloud or the lovely collection The Shapes in the Fire. Prince Zaleski is shlock, albeit of a kind I find very entertaining. Recommended for 1890s connoisseurs and serious devotees of weird fiction only.
I was given the extravagantly beautiful Tartarus Press edition for my birthday which in itself deserves a five star rating. Sadly I can't say the same for Shiel's detective. After having heard about him in the context of the occult detective and decadent genres I was sure I'd love Prince Zaleski. Jad Adams mentions him in his excellent "Madder Music and Stronger Wine" and Alan Moore has referenced him once or twice. Instead I found myself alternatively bored and occasionally horrified by the racial faux pas in the stories. As a person who loves Decadence and can usually take dated language with a grain of salt this took me by surprise. I don't know. It just didn't appeal to me. Hopefully you'll enjoy it more than I did.
Um. Well.I initially read "The S. S." (no, not the one you're thinking of) in "101 Years of Entertainment", the Ellery Queen collection of mysteries from 1841 to 1941 sometime in the 1970's-- highly recommended, by the way -- as my introduction to Prince Zaleski. It was improbable but intriguing at the time.A reread now, 40 years later, and Shiel's prejudices and assumptions are a lot more glaring than they were at the time. The prose is well beyond purple and ultraviolet into the long-wave gamma; it is full of obscure Greek classical references and antique words. I suppose this was meant to be erudite, but it mostly comes off as mannered now.I did find myself skipping through the long swaths of exposition -- Shiel is not a man afraid of a multi-page paragraph -- but the setup of the stories is quite creative and definitely capable of providing a frisson. Unfortunately the logic of the solutions is either wildly speculative or contrived, and in some cases based on folklore rather than reality, which tends to ruin the impact of the stories.As an artifact of its time, it was certainly interesting to read, but it's not a book I'll keep on my virtual bookshelf.
Incredible opening paragraph, and it goes a bit downhill from there. Zaleski is wonderful as a model for a detective though – indolent, weed-smoking, surrounded by stuffed exotic animals, with the ability to solve any mystery from a reclining position on his chaise. It's just a pity Shiel decided he needed to take him outside the weird, crumbling castle in which begins the book... As soon as he steps outside he becomes much like Sherlock Holmes, albeit one who's been curled up with a bong for a few hours rather than on a frantic all-night coke & violin binge.
"11 giugno. Oggi è il mio compleanno."
Decadent crime fiction, which sounds like a weird combination but it works. Superb.
Probably too generous, but I was happy to find a nice edition cheaply.