One Book, Four Covers: Guy Endore’s The Werewolf of Paris
This book is pretty terrible, but it’s Fantomas terrible (if you read it fast enough, it’ll give you a contact high) so there’s something to be said for that.
Long considered the werewolf novel, Guy Endore’s The Werewolf of Paris reads like a mash-up of Les Miserables with the works of the Marquis De Sade. The novel centers on the plight of one Bertrand, afflicted from birth with lycanthropy. His step-uncle knows what Bertrand is and tries to curb B’s worse tendencies. But to no avail. Bertrand escapes and makes for Paris where he gets embroiled in the Commune.
Reading this was a bit like the weekend I spent at my grandmother’s house alternating my reading of the Monster Manual with her back issue stack of National Enquirers. It’s lid-off-the-id stuff, but the id of your grandparent’s generation, which makes it a bit sleazier, weirder, and unexpected. Murder, rape, torture, incest, and S&M abound, but the book succeeds in being both sleazy and prudish, tut-tutting at its own excesses. Read it for you want a piece of Gothic fiction ramped up to 11 and don’t mind how clunky the prose is.
Sleazy/prudish was the default mode back when censorship wasn’t taking place in school libraries but right in stores and the postoffice.
Enjoyed your Fantomas essay. He might also be a precursor for horror villains like Jason and Freddie.
I’d say he’s more of a James Bond villain than a slasher.
Goes to show you how simple literary innovation can be. Take Fantomas + Slasher, and voila, you’ve got a whole new genre!
Or at least Hannibal Lecter.