The Stories of Pedro Escamilla

Although he was one of the most prolific Spanish authors of the 19th century, Pedro Escamilla seems little known today, even (as far as I can tell) in Spain. Not even the dates or circumstances of his birth and death are certain; the website Ganso y Pulpo estimates that he was born around 1840 and died around 1890.

Retrato Escamilla
Pedro Escamilla
Source: Ganso y Pulpo

And yet he is said to have published something like 400 stories, 35 or 40 plays, and at least 34 novels. some of them under the pen name Félix X. He was also rumored to have ghost-written works for other authors.

Today, he is probably best remembered (if at all) for his short stories in the fantastic and horror genres, which have been compared to the work of Poe and of Erckmann-Chatrian.

Having read a few of his stories, now, I personally find him a bit uneven; but to be honest I would probably say that of Erckmann-Chatrian, too. In both cases, I’ve found some delightful tales that make it worth the reading.

So I’ve translated a couple of Escamilla stories that caught my fancy:

  • Lucifer is an odd little story about a woman, a man, and his horse. This particular triangle was new, to me….
  • The Devil’s Catch (La pesca del diablo) is a humorous tale about an unlucky fisherman and a Faustian bargain. I thought this one was cute.

I found both of these stories at a wonderful Spanish website, Ganso y Pulpo, that is dedicated to producing and disseminating high-quality ePub versions of public domain Spanish literature, particularly obscure and forgotten works that have been buried in various Spanish literary periodicals of the nineteenth century. The site also provides short biographies of the authors whose work appears on the site, as well as short descriptions of the periodicals where these works were published.

If you read Spanish, and are at all interested in nineteenth century Spanish literature, whether as a researcher or a curious reader, I commend the site to you. It’s fascinating to browse.

And please do enjoy these Escamilla stories, as well. Cheers!

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