Today is the official release date for Frederick Rolfe, Baron Corvo’s An Ossuary of the North Lagoon and Other Stories.
From the publisher: Frederick William Rolfe (1860-1913) was born in Cheapside, London. In 1886, he converted to Roman Catholicism. His short stories were published in various periodicals, including the Yellow Book. He wrote A History of the Borgias (1901), as well as a number of novels, the most famous of them being Hadrian the Seventh (1904). he died in poverty in Venice.
Much has been written about Frederick Rolfe, the bulk being biographic in nature. A cult of personality arose soon after the publication of A.J.A. Symons’ experimental biography, The Quest for Corvo appeared in 1934, and while his character is certainly fascinating, I have always sought critical assessments of his work. They are few and far between, and so in my introduction I sought to place Corvo where I feel he belongs in terms of literary history. Often lumped into the decadent movement of the late 1890s (his Toto stories were published in the decadent Yellow Book) Corvo’s inventive and highly stylistic prose foreshadowed a movement that would lay claim to the early twentieth century, producing such visionary writers as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. Although his feet were firmly planted in literary decadence, Corvo’s head was filled with modernist visions.
For those of you unfamiliar with Corvo’s work, this book will serve as an excellent introduction. The short story certainly plays to Corvo’s strengths as a writer. If you are already familiar with Corvo and his writing, you will no doubt find much to appreciate here. The collected stories are rare and difficult to find elsewhere. Either way, I highly recommend An Ossuary of the North Lagoon and Other Stories.