Fantastic Tales


Translated from by

Published: 9/29/2020


ISBN: 9781939810625 eISBN: 9781939810632

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Book Description

In this collection of nine eerie stories, Iginio Ugo Tarchetti switches effortlessly between the macabre and the comical. Set in nineteenth-century Italy, his characters court spirits and blend in with the undead: passionate romances filled with jealousy and devotion are fueled by magic elixirs. Time becomes fluid as characters travel between centuries, chasing affairs that never quite prosper. First published by Mercury House in 1992.

If Poe had set out to write Villiers de l’Isle Adam’s Cruel Tales, the result might be Tarchetti. Beautifully translated by Lawrence Venuti, these capture Tarchetti’s unique and peculiar flavor: his deep Romanticism, his belief in the obsessiveness of desire, and his fascination with the supernatural.
Brian Evenson

Tarchetti’s beguiling fantasies are triumphs of imagination as well as masterfully told stories. Tarchetti writes with comic bravura and surrealist invention that makes him a cousin, at least, of Kafka and Isak Dinesen.
Guy Davenport

Tarchetti, who also worked as a translator, was heavily influenced by gothic literature from abroad, favoring the morbid, the metaphysical, the socially and sexually outré . . . remarkably vivid and innovative . . . A collection of nine classic macabre tales, exquisitely translated from the Italian by Venuti.

Tarchetti occupies a singular place in Italian literature as an antecedent of the great innovators of this century, including Calvino and Pirandello . . . Tarchetti imported his stories from abroad, rewriting works by Mary Shelley, the Alsatian collaborators Emile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian, and Theophile Gautier. While the stories are marvelous in and of themselves, in Venuti’s thoughtful presentation they serve as entree into an equally strange and marvelous literary phenomenon.
Publishers Weekly

Tarchetti was pretty much the sole practitioner of the Gothic tale in his own language. Until his death in 1869 at the age of 29, he poured out a stream of freakish and fervid stories that made him moderately famous -- and definitively minor. Does I. U. Tarchetti deserve better? Judging from Lawrence Venuti’s elegantly translated collection, Fantastic Tales, the answer is yes.
James Marcus, The New York Times Book Review

These stories are enjoyable to read simply for themselves, but they also illustrate a literary culture of notable fascination. The translations flow, yet retain the flavor of their period and are true to the style and personality of their curious, gifted author.
William Weaver, translator of Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco

Lawrence Venuti’s translation is excellent. The authenticity of the language he uses does not stem only from its faithfulness to the original but also from the fact that Venuti bases his style on that of the (English-speaking) Gothic authors of the nineteenth century. As a result, his prose, albeit flowing, has a slightly archaic feel to it which fits the subject perfectly. Fantastic Tales is an enjoyable read . . . it is also a window onto an as yet under-appreciated era of Italian fiction.
to the ends of the word

In Lawrence Venuti’s brilliant new translation of nine stories by cult Gothic storyteller Tarchetti, readers will find themselves confronted by the astounding, the uncanny, and the downright disturbing, immersed in the eerie and the macabre, and elbowed in the side by the comical.