City Lights welcomes Kit Schluter in conversation with Garrett Caples exploring the work of Marcel Schwob on the occasion of the release of The King in the Golden Mask by Marcel Schwob, (translated by Kit Schluter) published by Wakefield Press.
First published in French in 1892 and never before translated fully into English, The King in the Golden Mask gathers together twenty-one of Marcel Schwob’s cruelest and most erudite tales. Melding the fantastic with historical fiction, these stories swarm around moments of unexplained violence both historical and imaginary, often blending the two through Schwob’s collaging of primary source documents into fiction. Brimming with murder, suicide, royal leprosy, and medieval witchcraft, Schwob describes for us historically-attested clergymen furtively attending medieval sabbaths, Protestant galley slaves laboring under the persecution of Louis XIV, a ten-year-old French viscountess seeking vengeance for her unwilled espousal to a money-grubbing French lord, and dice-tumbling sons of Florentine noblemen wandering Europe at the height of the 1374 plague. These writings are of such hallucinatory detail and linguistic specificity that the reader is left wondering whether they aren’t newly unearthed historical documents. To read Schwob is to encounter human history in its most scintillating and ebullient form as it comes into contact with this unparalleled imagination.
Kit Schluter is a writer and translator living in Mexico City. With Andrew Dieck and Francesca Capone, he edits O’clock Press. His writings have appeared in BOMB, Boston Review, Elective Affinities, Inpatient Press, and The Disinhibitor. He has translated the works of Enzio de Kiipt, Clamenç Llansana, Jaime Saenz, and Marcel Schwob. He translated The Book Of Monelle, by Marcel Schwob, for Wakefield Press.
Garrett Caples is the author of The Garrett Caples Reader (1999), Complications (2007), Quintessence of the Minor: Symbolist Poetry in English (2010), and Retrievals (2014). He’s an editor at City Lights Books, where he curates the Spotlight poetry series and has worked on such books as Tau by Philip Lamantia/Journey to the End by John Hoffman (Pocket Poets #59) and When I Was a Poet by David Meltzer (Pocket Poets #60). He is also a contributing writer to the San Francisco Bay Guardian and coeditor of the Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (2013).