Hashish by Oscar A. H. Schmitz
Trade Paperback – Wakefield Press – Apr 2018 – 145 pages
First published in German in 1902, Hashish is a collection of decadent, interwoven tales of Satanism, eroticism, sadism, cannibalism, necrophilia and death.
Encountering the enigmatic dandy Count Vittorio Alta-Carrara in a Parisian eatery, the narrator finds himself invited to a “Hashish Club,” where in the dim light of red-filtered candles, a roomful of “recumbent wanderers” explores the abyss of the unconscious. The narrator and the count don a variety of identities as they in turn enter the narratives, sometimes participating in them, other times merely observing them from the vantage point of a shifting divan. Engaging in romantic liaisons with masks and cadavers, taking part in Satanic orgies and carnivals, plotting blasphemy and riding carriages through cityscapes where time loses its bearings, the protagonists draw the reader into their narrative and psychological unmooring.
A forgotten yet important chapter in the lineage of German fantastic and decadent literature, this translation of Hashish is illustrated throughout with drawings by the author’s brother-in-law, Alfred Kubin, from the book’s second, 1913 German edition.