The novel's narrator, Alphonse van Worden, a young Walloon officer journeying to join his regiment in Madrid in 1739, is diverted into the Sierra Morena and mysteriously detained in the company of thieves, cabbalists, noblemen and gypsies, whose stories he records as he hears them, day by day over a period of sixty-six days.
A literary masterpiece by a Polish traveller, aristocratic adventurer, political activist, ethnographer and publisher
Alphonse, a young Walloon officer, is travelling to join his regiment in Madrid in 1739. But he soon finds himself mysteriously detained at a highway inn in the strange and varied company of thieves, brigands, cabbalists, noblemen, coquettes and gypsies, whose stories he records over sixty-six days. The resulting manuscript is discovered some forty years later in a sealed casket, from which tales of characters transformed through disguise, magic and illusion, of honour and cowardice, of hauntings and seductions, leap forth to create a vibrant polyphony of human voices. Jan Potocki (1761-1812) used a range of literary styles - gothic, picaresque, adventure, pastoral, erotica - in his novel of stories-within-stories, which, like the Decameron and Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, provides entertainment on an epic scale.
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