Hamlet Had an Uncle: A Comedy of Honor is a Shakespearean satire by James Branch Cabell, first published in 1940. Cabell had incubated a Shakespeare satire for decades, and based his tale on the Saxo Grammaticus, an epic saga that recounts the story of the mythic Hamlet.
The darkly comic allegory Jurgen caused quite a stir when it was originally published, with several jurisdictions deeming it obscene and calling for it to be pulled from store shelves. After his wife mysteriously vanishes, middle-aged pawnbroker Jurgen sets off on a not-so-heroic quest to find her, traveling through a series of strange lands in the process.
James Branch Cabell's career was short-lived - his works fit neatly within the 1920s literary escapist culture and then quickly declined in popularity as the author veered away from the fantasy niche. In his heyday, Cabell garnered praise from several of his contemporaries such as H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. Lewis even acknowledged Cabell's successful "Jurgen" in his 1930 Nobel Prize address. "Jurgen" is certainly Cabell's most famous novel, published in 1919, and it tells the story of a middle-aged man on a journey through fantastic realms, where he meets and seduces beautiful women of fiction and myth - including the Devil's wife. The book garnered attention as it was charged with obscenity in a case that reached the New York Supreme Court. Cabell and his publisher won the case, and the author was deemed a literary avant garde, who tested conventional social boundaries and opposed the forces of puritanical repression.
Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice is a 1919 fantasy book by James Branch Cabell - the eighth among some fifty-two books written by this author - which gained fame (or notoriety, in the view of some) shortly after its publication. The eponymous hero, who considers himself a "monstrous clever fellow", embarks on a journey through ever more fantastic realms, even to hell and heaven. Everywhere he goes, he winds up seducing the local women, even the Devil's wife.
The word "domnei" refers to the ritualized devotion that knights were required to display toward their ladies in the medieval period. James Branch Cabell's novel of the same title explores the concept in a rich, meditative look at femme fatale Melicent and the ultimately ruinous sparring her love inspires among her coterie of husbands, knights, and suitors.
American writer James Branch Cabell carved out a literary niche of his own with a body of work that combines fantasy, humor, and allegory. The novel Gallantry succeeds marvelously on all three levels. In terms of plot, it's a rollicking action-adventure quest story that fans of fiction set in the medieval era will relish. Thematically, it's a clever send-up of the very notion of gallantry and all of the harm wrought by this complex social code.
Beyond Life is yet another wholly original work from Virginia writer James Branch Cabell. It's an imagined conversation between John Charteris, a successful author, and a young editor. They sit in a library lined with books categorized as unwritten masterpieces or intended editions--a wry commentary on the business of publishing by one of America's overlooked masters. The two discuss writers and writing, especially those who published in the early 20th century and the demands of the market. Anyone interested in the act of writing and publishing will find an amusing and thought-provoking discussion in Beyond Life. JAMES BRANCH CABELL, a native of Richmond, Virginia, wrote more than fifty books. He is best known for his novel Jurgen, which he wrote in 1919, and his octodecalogy, Biography of the Life of Manuel, which features the mythical world of Poictesme and the castle Storisende. His writing features many anagrams, puns, and wordplay, features that have made him a cult figure to many readers. The Virginia Commonwealth University established the James Branch Cabell Library in 1970.
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