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Kahn, Gustave

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1859-1936) French art critic and author, an important member of the Symbolist Movement, his colleagues including Henri de Régnier as well as more famous figures like Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898). His extravagantly couched Symbolist novel, Le Conte de l'Or et du Silence (first six chapters 1896 La Societé Nouvelle; 1898; trans Brian Stableford as The Tale of Gold and Silence 2011) could easily be understood, had it appeared a century later, as a central example of Equipoise, and does indeed ruthlessly commingle genres, from the adventure story to the Bible to faked folktales to evocations of the Wandering Jew, in a manner much more familiar to twenty-first century readers than to nineteenth. The effect that stories are being wrenched from tacit context and displayed with their innards serving to placard the author's meaning is entirely typical of Symbolist prose, and of the Decadence with which it flirted. Kahn's main influence on English-language prose fiction seems to have been on the early work of M P Shiel. [JC]

Gustave Kahn

born Metz, France: 21 December 1859

died Paris: 5 September 1936



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