THE MAN WHO UNDERSTOOD WOMEN AND OTHER STORIES. London: Eveleigh Nash, 1908. Octavo, pp. [1-6] 1-274 -281: "opinions of the critics" [282: blank], original red cloth, front panel stamped in black, spine panel stamped in gold, publisher's monogram stamped in blind on rear panel, bottom edge untrimmed. First edition. "Sixteen short stories, some criminous. His third collection of short stories. A highly regarded author of literary fiction in his day, often with a theatrical background, of which he gained firsthand experience during a two-year period as an actor-manager. Merrick also lived in South Africa as a young man, working for a brief period in a diamond mine. A fine literary craftsman. In 'The Fairy Poodle,' two starving artists, Julien and Juliette, man and wife, live hand-to-mouth in a Paris garret but are happy. When the wife, a writer of fairy tales, brings home a dirty poodle she has rescued from the streets, she charms the concierge into letting them keep it by making up on the spot a roman a clef fairy tale in which the rescue of the poodle brings good fortune to them and everyone else. Sure enough, a reward is offered for a return of the poodle to its wealthy owner, but Juliette demurs to take money for her action, counting it too base. The Countess agrees to come by and look at her husband's pictures. Time passes and the would-be patron doesn't come by. Eviction and starvation loom over them. The story keeps us on edge: should we see this couple (nicknamed 'the children') as they are nicknamed -- enchantingly innocent? Or as self-indulgently naïve? The high-wire act continues until the last page, when the countess finally arrives, apparently vindicating the faith of the couple, yet not quite dislodging from our minds the ambivalence we feel about 'the children.' A sophisticated story with a deceptive simplicity. Like a genius imprisoned in a garret, it is a fairy tale trapped in a work of naturalism: Perrault hiding under the mask of Zola -- or is it the other way around? The other stories in the collection play with the same polarity. Most are set in Paris and feature a recurring cast of Bohemians. 'The Last Effect' is a brilliant and grisly conte cruel about infidelity and features a cabinet created for a stage illusion." - Robert Eldridge. Hubin (1994), p. 569. NCBEL III 1069. Mild rubbing to cloth at spine ends and corner tips, a bright, tight, very good copy with clean interior. (#116650).
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