Consider it a professional bias, but some of the short fiction that I love the most was written either written as a diversion from scholarship, or look at scholarship as a fruitful resource for the imagination. In some cases, the short stories and novelas expand on erudite minutiae; in others, the quiet of scholarly life is regarded as the perfect background for fantasy or the uncanny. Yet in others, labyrinthian worlds and patterns emerge as a diversion from erudition. Here’s a short annotated list of works, in several languages, that I’ve enjoyed. In my humble opinion, the great master of the genre was Marcel Schwob, of “Le livre de Monelle” fame.1
- Marcel Schwob, Le roi au masque d’or (1892)
- Vernon Lee, The Wicked Voice
- Vernon Lee, El príncipe Alberico y la dama Serpiente
- M.R. James, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
- H.P. Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Perhaps the most scholarly of HPL’s weird fictions.
Shocking as it is, there’s still not a Bibliotheque de la Pleiade edition of the great symbolist writer nor, for that matter, any decent modern edition of his collected works. ↩