Monday, 10 August 2009
Edmond About King Of The Mountains
About, Edmond. The King Of The Mountains. Trans. Andrew Long. New York: P.F. Collier 1902
"To Malc-- as ever--Margie. July 28, 1950."
We start our browsing of Malc's library with a 1950 birthday present from Margerie to Malc.
Edmond About was born at Dieuze, in the Moselle département in the Lorraine region of France. In 1848 he entered the École Normale, taking second place in the annual competition for admission in which Hippolyte Taine came first. Among his college contemporaries, besides Taine, were Francisque Sarcey, Challemel-Lacour and Prevost-Paradol. Of them all, About was considered the most highly vitalized, exuberant, brilliant and "undisciplined". It is said that one of his schoolmasters told him "You will never be more than a little Voltaire," and About's career did tend toward Voltaire-style witty satire and commentaries on contemporary issues.
At the end of his college career, he joined the French school in Athens, but claimed that he had never intended to follow the professorial career for which the École Normale was a preparation, and in 1853 he returned to France and devoted himself to literature and journalism. Read more on Wikipedia
The King of the Mountains" is the best-known of Edmond About's novels, as it is also the best. In 1854 About was working as a poor archaeologist at the French School at Athens, where he noticed there was a curious understanding between the brigands and the police of modern Greece. Brigandage was becoming a safe and almost a respectable Greek industry. "Why not make it quite respectable and regular?" said About. "Why does not some brigand chief, with a good connection, convert his business into a properly registered joint-stock company?" So he produced, in 1856, one of the most delightful of satirical novels, The King of the Mountains.
You can read the full text of King Of The Mountains on Google Books