Isoline and the Serpent-Flower
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ISOLINE AND THE SERPENT-FLOWER
by Judith Gautier
adapted by Brian Stableford
cover by Mike Hoffman
One day, the beautiful Miou-Chen awoke from a long sleep. She was in a wild forest, lying on lotus flowers, a tiger the color of jade asleep at her feet. While she scanned her surroundings, she saw a young boy with shiny brown skin coming through the trees. "I have come to you by command of the Lord of Hell," he said. "The great Jade King admires your wisdom, and if your courage is unfailing, he will consent to let you pass through the gate of the terrible city of Fou-Tou-Tchan and visit his realm."
Judith Gautier (1845-1917) was the daughter of the great Romantic writer, Théophile Gautier. Isoline features an extraordinary heroine and recycles Sleeping Beauty with a sharp ironic edge. The Serpent-Flower deals with guilt and vengeance from beyond the grave. Too Late is a subversive pastiche of hallucinatory erotic obsession. Her Oriental stories, such as The Prince with the Bloody Head and The Boatwoman of the Blue River, are flamboyant reinterpretations of myths and legends.
Judith Gautier's works deal with the painful isolation of the individual and the destructive power of love. They commanded a considerable degree of critical respect and represented a refinement of the primitive Orientalism pioneered by early members of the French Romantic Movement. She made a highly significant contribution to the development of a literary Orient that was subsequently exploited by many later writers.
Isoline et La Fleur-Serpent (Charavay, 1882)
The Inn of the Flowering Reeds
The Marvelous Tunic
The Forbidden Fruit
Le Paravent de soie et d'or [The Silk and Gold Screen] (Charpentier & Fasquelle, 1904)
The Prince with the Bloody Head
A Descent into Hell
The Boatwoman of the Blue River
The Jeweler of Fou-Tcheou
The Empress Zin-Gou
The Celestial Weaver
The Princess's Sixteenth Birthday
Introduction and Notes by Brian Stableford.