WAYSTATIONS OF THE DEEP NIGHT
First published in France in the dark year of 1942, the story collection Waystations of the Deep Night remains the best known of Marcel Brion’s numerous works in the vein of the strange and the fantastic. The journeys in this volume carry the reader through the surreal vistas of an underground city that appears aboveground as a bizarre theater of facades and a fire-ravaged landscape where souls turn to ash. By playing with the format of hte ghost story or horror tale, Brion transforms the romantic waystations in this volume into stages on an inward journey into lucid dreams and no less lucid night ares.
Waystations evoles a deep night of strange encounters, enigmatic transformations, and labyrinthine journeys. A young castrato sings his heart out in a lost baroque garden; a timeless warrior retires out of battle to an uncanny final resting place; a child alls under the fateful spell of an enchanted painting; a traveler in a burned-out landscape encounters the Prince of Death; dancing cats engage in mortal combat in the cellars of an abandoned port city. These stories give sybstance to Brion’s claim that “the fantastic comes to us in the great tidal waves of night, phosphorescent plankton drawn by dark waves that break on humanity as soon as the sun of evidence and reason has disappeared.”
A self-declared heir of Achim von Arnim and E. T. A. Hoffmann, Brion was also an admiter of the German Romantic writer Novalis and his sequence of Hymns to the Night, but his own imaginative homages to the night are more troubkingly ambiguous, possibly an indirect reflection of the dark times in which they were written.
Over the course of a long and productive career, Marcel Brion (1895–1984) published twenty novels, four volumes of short stories, and sixty-eight non-fiction books covering music, art, literature, history, and travel, and a large number of shorter essays and editorial introductions.