The Story Without a Name/A Nameless Story. Barbey d’Aurevilly.

The Story Without a Name.
Barbey d’Aurevilly.
W. B. Conkey: 1882/1902.

An interesting little book, with a Robert Louis Stevenson short story at the end. For some reason, “Collins” is on the spine of this book (along with the title “Nameless Story”), but this was penned by d’Aurevilly although he is not credited anywhere in the book. Most likely a pirated edition. The first legit U.S. edition seems to be 1919 published by Brentano’s of New York.

At times, this book seems almost more of a sketch of a longer one. This story takes place in a remote valley, where a widow and her daughter are host to a wondering Capuchin monk for a few weeks. Neither like him, and they are relieved when he leaves.

The daughter, Lasthenie de Ferjol, becomes sick, and her mother thinks she’s in love; a suspicion reinforced when the daughter is discovered to be pregnant! Lasthenie has no knowledge of how this happened. Mme. de Ferjol is harsh and unforgiving. Daughter gives birth to still-born, slowly pines away and dies, not having spoken for years. Of course, it turns out that the monk was the father of the baby, and the mother goes to the grave and curses him.

Sections of nice detailed writing interspersed by long sections of simple, almost hurried writing (or translation.) Could be reworked into a great gothic or Dickens novel.

Interestingly enough, French doctors have described as “Syndrome of Lasthénie de Ferjol” a syndrome in which women bleed themselves repeatedly and secretly to the point of death or grave illness.