With this collection of short stories, Louis Auchincloss will delight his already devoted followers and win many more into the ranks. The stories, which range from studies of family manipulation to the secrets of artistic inspiration, are in fact subtle fables that probe the heart of modern American life to examine the moral confusion that exists there. In the title story, a wealthy muralist and patroness of the arts succumbs to the near compulsion of posing in the nude for a fellow artist who then blackmails her. In other tales, a clergyman conceives of adultery as a valid means of sharing Christian charity; a socially prominent family conspires to entrap a girl into a “front” marriage with their homosexual son and heir; an art student writes his thesis on some startling theories as to why a famed painter of elegant interiors never includes a human figure in his pictures; a federal judge sells his opinions to the highest bidder with a recklessness that seems, almost suicidally, to invite detection. Combining his powers of storytelling and observation, Auchincloss creates in Narcissa and Other Fables a penetrating glimpse into the ethical malaise of our century.
Louis Auchincloss was honored in the year 2000 as a “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. During his long career he wrote more than sixty books, including the story collection Manhattan Monologues and the novel The Rector of Justin. The former president of the Academy of Arts and Letters, he resided in New York City until his death in January 2010.