"There is a black sun which is not visible to the human eye. It is our beacon and its fire burns within us." -- Akkadian temple inscription



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Black Sun

Steven Kaye's irregularly updated blog

Petrus Borel (1809-1859) was the pseudonym of the French writer Joseph-Pierre Borel d'Hauterive, known for his contes cruels such as those collected in Champavert: Contes Immoraux (1833). Besides writing short stories and novels, he also translated works including Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and wrote poems. His works are characterized by irony, savagery and melodrama, which made him a darling of the Surrealists. His story "Andreas Vesalius the Anatomist" is included in Chris Baldick's The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales and "Monsieur de l'Argentière, Public Prosecutor" appears in The Dedalus Book of French Horror.The cruelty of his stories earned him the sobriquet "le lycanthrope" (the werewolf), and he hung out with notorious ne'er-do-wells such as Charles Nodier and Théophile Gautier. Unfortunately, he didn't walk lobsters on leashes and placing extended discussions on sugar refining in his novels didn't win him favor with readers and critics. His friends got him a position as a colonial administrator in Algeria, where he built a Gothic castle which he lived in, and Borel eventually died of sunstroke. Tom Ahern makes the claim that Borel deliberately refused to wear a hat and cooked his brains like an omelet. I first discovered Borel through Ahern's The Petrus Borel Stories published by Sun and Moon Press in 1990 or thereabouts. From there it was Enid Starkie's biography in the university library, where I also found some more of his works in translation. Michael Swanwick has a passage in his novel Stations of the Tide in which a magician learns about the black stars, constellations formed out of the gulfs between the stars. It strikes me that Borel is one of those black stars, lost between the stars we know. Some useful links:
© 2002, Steven Kaye