The House of Oracles


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The House of Oracles and Other Stories by Thomas Owen, translated by Iain White

Hardcover – Tartarus Press – Dec2012

A master of the fleeting, fantastic, erotic short story, Thomas Owen (the pseudonym of Gérald Bertot), was one of a small group of Belgian writers and artists of considerable importance to the European Symbolist movement.  Born in 1910, by the age of seventeen Owen had made himself known to Jean Ray, a founding father of the emerging Belgian “école de l’étrange”, in the tradition of Georges Rodenbach and Maurice Maeterlinck. Owen and Ray remained close friends and literary collaborators until Ray’s death in 1964. First writing detective fiction, Owen switched to the fantastic in 1942 with “l’Initiation à la Peur”, after which, in the 1960s and 70s, came the collections of short stories excerpted in this selection.

In these thirty-one stories, seven of which are newly translated by Iain White, Owen explores love and desire and the uncertainty of the boundary between reality and the unreal, in beautifully economical, deceptively simple prose.

Contains: ‘Introduction’, ‘Two of a Kind’, ‘Modelled in Pure Wax’, ‘The Sparrowhawk’, ‘15. 12. 38’, ‘The Blue Coat’, ‘A Dead Butterfly’s Wing’, ‘The Desolate Presence’, ‘My Cousin’, ‘The Castellan’, ‘The Blue Snake’, ‘The Girl in the Rain’, ‘The Hunter’ ‘The Passenger’, ‘The Lady from Saint Petersburg’, ‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’, ‘The Sow’, ‘The Black Ball’, ‘A Real Chinese Puzzle’, ‘The Death of Alexis Balakine’, ‘The Conquered Beauty and the Troubadour’, ‘Her Dear Departed Husband’, ‘The Passing of Doctor Babylon’, ‘A Night in the Château’, ‘Portrait of an Unknown Man’, ‘The Gate’, ‘The Park’, ‘The Equivocal Informant’, ‘The Pavilion of the Naturalist’, ‘The House of the Dead Girl’, ‘The House of Oracles’, ‘The House of Dead Love’, ‘Sources’.


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