Emilie de Roullon - Peter Schlemihl - J. Souter, n.d. [c1857], First Thus.


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London, J. Souter, n.d. [c1857]. First Thus. Hardback. A fine copy. First thus. The first English was 1824. A wonderful work of supernatural fantasy wherein the eponymous Peter is encouraged by the Devil to exchange his shadow for the purse of Fortunatus (basically a credit card with no limit). Things don't quite work out (do they ever in folk tales?) and society rejects him sans shadow. Of particular pain is the rejection from the woman he loves. The Devil ups the ante offering him his shadow back in return for his soul. Peter has had enough though and calls it quits, opting for a life of poverty and isolation. In due course a pair of seven-league boots turn up in a local village market and he heads off exploring from Tibet to the Arctic to the Pillars of Hercules. He gathers botanical specimans en route (von Chamisso was a botanist). Finally, old and a little worse for wear, society accepts him. An important tap-root for the development of the speculative genre. The trope of a lost shadow has been used sparingly in subsequent fantasy (certainly less so than the seven-league boots) though perhaps best remembered in Dunsany's The Charwoman's Shadow and Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. A classic work of early fantasy. [Clute & Grant, p177; Schlemihl, 2011] [8908, Hyraxia Books].

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