REVIEWS 

“[The Merciful Women]’s playful, satiric, erotic, sometimes savage, sometimes slapstick account of one man’s case of severe literary envy is something completely different, and well worth reading.” —San Francisco Chronicle

 

 


THE MERCIFUL WOMEN

"La Villa des Mysteres" 

By Federico AndahaziTranslated from the Spanish by Alberto Manguel


Grove Press
978-0-8021-3826-2 • $13.00 • Paperback • May 2002


Fiction
A scandalous Argentine best-seller published around the world to outstanding acclaim, The Anatomist established Federico Andahazi as a writer of wit, verve, and mastery. His new novel, The Merciful Women, which sold in eleven countries, mines the same vein of forgotten and invented history, this time in a brilliant retelling of the birth of the Gothic novel.

In the summer of 1816, Percy and Mary Shelley, Mary’s sister, and Lord Byron hid themselves inside a Swiss villa, whiling away rainy afternoons with a Gothic novel writing contest. In Andahazi’s reimagining, there was fifth competitor, John Polidori, Byron’s manservant, a talentless would-be writer resentful of the ease of his master’s life. Through a Faustian pact with an unseen intercessant, Polidori obtains the most compelling vampire story ever written, which he will read aloud the night Mary Shelley first unveils Frankenstein. But The Vampyre has striking similarities to Polidori’s benefactor and to what she asks of him in return. Opium, erotica, and decadence meld into a sly and stylish novel about literary ambition, talent, and inspiration.

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