The Solar Circus
The Solar Circus is the great forgotten masterpiece of French Symbolist literature. Written by Gustave Kahn—the man whom Stéphane Mallarmé and Jules Laforgue credited as inventing free verse poetry—the novel drips in decadent images of pastoral vistas, exotic gemstones, merfolk, and a phantasmagoric menagerie. Inverting day for night and reality for a dazzling dream, The Solar Circus tells the story of a solipsistic, isolated Bavarian count who falls in love with the star of a traveling circus. Their relationship, in both love and jealousy, dramatizes that great tension between the inner life of contemplation and the dynamic beauty of the external world. And as they set out from the count’s castle, the couple examines this duality while encountering a world in transformation: peasants in rebellion, the bright lights of London’s Orpheum theater, and even an ether-swilling Jack the Ripper who analyzes humanity through a fog of opium.
Ttranslated by Sam Kunkel.
Published by First To Knock, 2022