ALL parcels are exciting, but this morning’s delivery brought two thrills in one box.
Mauvais Oeil is the French edition of An Evil Eye - impeccably translated by Fortunato Israel who has been responsible for translating the whole series, published by Plon and by the French thriller house 10/18.
The cover illustration is from an 1893 painting, Les Almees, by Paul Louis Bouchard, a second rank orientalist; I suspect the setting is actually north African. Like Gerome’s subjects, Bouchard’s veer towards the sleazy… there is something about them taken from the brothels of Paris, not the palaces of the Orient.
Out of the same box, forwarded by my agent, came Het Boze Oog, translated by Auke Leistra and Atty Mensinga and published by De Bezige Bij.
It is a great picture, by Gaston Casemir Saint-Pierre, of Soudja-Sari, a character from Theophile Gautier’s Fortuno:
“I must be content with telling you that Soudja-Sari means “The Languorous Eye,” in accordance with Eastern custom which gives women names drawn from their physical peculiarities. Thanks to the translation of this significant name, which I owe to the kindness of a member of the Asiatic Society deeply versed in Javanese, Malay, and other Indian tongues, we now know that Soudja-Sari is a beautiful girl with a voluptuous eye, with a velvety, dreamy look.”
I think I like her best, but the whole affair requires some consideration. After all, Yashim’s world is exotic, no doubt; but it is also quite specific: Istanbul, 1839. The women of An Evil Eye are denizens of a sultan’s harem, but they are rather more than idle odalisques. They manage power; they have histories; they have ambitions.
If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have a story!
Invite your Dutch and French friends to view the blog if you think they might be interested.