Cautionary Tales by Emmanuelle de Maupassant, a review

Posted: March 19, 2016 in Uncategorized
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51kIOYx-hOL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Folk tales are universal, of course, and wherever they come from – whatever period – they feed us a helping of those things which most occupy and tease the restless human imagination: take your pick of the seven deadly sins. The eternal game of wits between devils and angels never seems to get old no matter how old the stories themselves become. At most, they’re simply reinvented from culture to culture and generation to generation. But the stories in Cautionary Tales aren’t centuries old folk tales. Emmanuelle de Maupassant merely seduces you into believing they are.

Her writing has poise and elegance by the truckload, and with Cautionary Tales, she strikes a tone that drives the stories as if they were contemporary renderings of tales out of some antique oral tradition. Taking a surprisingly fresh approach, she has superimposed scenarios of her own invention over East European traditions and superstitions. She has created a new and original mythology of demons and village maidens that feels immediately familiar, but sets them loose in narratives that are fresh and engaging.

As a writer firmly rooted in the deeper regions of erotic tradition, the sensual nature of these stories is palpable, even at its more terse and implicit moments. These tales follow no formula but their own, just as any well-told story should. Cautionary Tales is a beautifully ambitious undertaking, and Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s entire concept and execution are a refreshing surprise in the kind of story collection that only comes along once in a very great while.

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