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Ramuz, C F

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1878-1947) Swiss actor and author, active from 1903, though his early fiction was doggedly realistic. It was only as a consequence of World War One, which affected him deeply, that he began to produce some sf and several metaphysical fantasies tinged with Allegory. The first of these prose-poem fictions is Le Règne de l'esprit malin (1917; trans James Whitall as The Reign of the Evil One 1922), in which the Devil comes to live in a country town, where he impersonates Christ or a Christ-figure (see Religion). Histoire du Soldat ["The Soldier's Tale"] (1920) is cast as a Pantomime-ballet with narrator; it was set to music by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) in 1918, prior to its formal publication [for Allegory and Pantomime see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. The inhabitants of a remote mountain village in Terre du ciel – Joie dans le ciel ["The World of Heaven – Joy in Heaven"] (1921) begin to think they occupy Heaven; La Grande Peur dans la montagne ["Terror on the Mountain"] (1925) depicts a similar village, under a curse; in La Beauté sur la Terre (1927; trans anon as Beauty on Earth 1929) the inhuman beauty of a female migrant worker maddens a village; in Derborence (1934; trans Sarah Fisher Scott as When the Mountain Fell 1947), a shepherd seduced by a mountain near his village returns home after a weird prolonged sojourn [for Time in Faerie see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] within the rocks.

Of sf interest is Présence de la Mort (1922; trans Allan Ross MacDougall as The End of All Men 1944; rev trans Allan Ross MacDougall and Alex Comfort vt The Triumph of Death 1946), which depicts the varied (and inadequate) responses of its large cast to the approaching End of the World, caused by an anomaly in the effects of Gravity on the planet; similarly, though without an sf explanation, in Si le soleil ne revenait pas ["If the Sun Does Not Come Back"] (1937) the sun does not return to a mountain village with the approach of spring. Portentous, elevated, abstract and dour, Ramuz's tales have not tended to wear well. [JC]

Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz

born Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland: 24 September 1878

died Pully, Vaud, Switzerland: 23 May 1947

works (selected; author's numerous revisions are not recorded)


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