“Silky prose in this harrowing account of crime and punishment.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Using spare, effective prose, Chessex brilliantly renders both the inhospitable winter landscape of the mountains and the harshness of a society that makes monsters of its victims.’—London Review of Books
“A superb novel, hard as a winter in these landscapes of dark forests, where an atmosphere of prejudice and violence envelops the reader.”—L’Express
“It’s beautiful; it’s pure, like a blue sky over a black forest. Giono without garlic and olives.”—Le Point
“Far from just telling us a simple story Chessex has had the intelligence to integrate a dose of poetry, of the aesthetics of sin, and of the metaphysics of the monster.”—Lire
Jacques Chessex, winner of the prestigious Goncourt prize, takes a true story and weaves it into a lyrical tale of fear and cruelty.
1903, Ropraz, a small village near the Jura Mountains of Switzerland. On a howling December day, a lone walker discovers a recently opened tomb, the body of a young woman violated, her left hand cut off, genitals mutilated, and heart carved out. There is horror in the nearby villages: the return of atavistic superstitions and mutual suspicions. Then two more bodies are violated. A suspect must be found. Favez, a stableboy with bloodshot eyes, is arrested and placed in psychiatric care. He escapes, enlists in the Foreign Legion as the First World War begins, and is sent into battle in the trenches of the Somme.
Jacques Chessex, born in 1934, won the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize for his novel A Father’s Love. He is considered one of Switzerland’s greatest living authors. He lives in Ropraz.
|Publisher:||Bitter Lemon Press, Ltd|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Jacques Chessex, born in 1934, won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize for his novel L'Ogre. He is considered one of Switzerland's greatest authors, a novelist, poet, essayist and winner of the French Literature Grand Prix of the Académie Française. W.Donald Wilson is a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He is a translator of fiction and non-fiction from the French and his work includes titles by Yves Thériault and Jean Heffer.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A novella more than a novel, this gritty story of a body snatcher of ravishes corpses of young women in 1900s Switzerland is a bracing dip into paranoia, fear, despicable lust and degradation humans can get up to, especially of they live in a benighted fundamentalist land. Jacques Chessex was a Swiss writer, so this is well worth checking out if you're in the mood for a darker vision tinged with the otherness that a writer from another culture can bring.
In 1903 in Ropraz, Switzerland, a young woman dies from meningitis. Soon after she is buried, her tomb is opened and she has been defiled by someone who sliced off a hand, mutilated her virginal genitals, and ripped out her heart. The residents of the Jura Mountain village are horrified by the depraved defilation and many believe no Godly person could have done the deed. The villagers believe something paranormally evil did the deed.. Garlic is hung everywhere and no one goes anywhere without wearing a cross; nocturnal activity is almost nonexistent.
Two more corpses are found as mutilated as that of the young girl. Suspicion falls on stable boy Favez due to his being a loner and more so because of his eyes, which are a bit more reddish than normal. He is arrested and sent to an asylum to receive psychiatric help.
This is an interesting fictionalization of a true crime incident in which the reactions to the depravity is the prime emphasis instead of the horror or the inquiry. In 106 pages, Jacques Chessex contrasts the pristine cold beauty of the region to the cold-blooded horrific defiling acts and the reactions of the locals who turn to superstition to ward off evil. Although not a supernatural thriller as the title is a metaphor and neither a police procedural investigative tale, THE VAMPIRE OF ROPRAZ is a fine historical tale that looks deep at Swiss villagers¿ reactions to gruesome deeds at the turn of the previous century with a fitting final spin.