Just an update on some recent(ish) posts to my other blogs. By coincidence, both posts relate to the theme of Faustian bargains, so they go rather well together.

Over on Ephemera, here’s the latest of my Emilia Pardo Bazán translations. This is from a few months ago, but I got distracted by Pedro Escamilla and Dark Tales Sleuth, so I never announced the translation here.

Faust, Rembrandt, c 1652
Faust, by Rembrandt (c. 1652).
Source: WikiArt
  • The Spell (El conjuro): A philospher performs an incantation of the last day of the year, in hopes of summoning a being that can grant his desire.

The protagonist of the tale is referred to as “el pensador” (the thinker) in the original Spanish. I rendered that as “the philospher” in my translation, because it felt better to me in English, and in my opinion still retains the connotations of the original Spanish term.

Incidentally, I did a bit of (failed) literary sleuthing on this piece. La Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes marks “El conjuro” as published in La Ilustración Española y Americana in 1909. No month, no issue. This is suspicious, because usually their publication annotations are complete: periodical and issue information (which I usually report as exact date of publication).

Sure enough, when I went to the archives at la Biblioteca Nacional de España, I couldn’t find “El conjuro” in any of the indicies for La Ilustración Española y Americana between 1909 and 1913, the period when Pardo Bazán was most likely to have published there. So here, I believe, we have an example of the repeated-but-not-verified academic citation.

My notes say that somewhere else on the web, I saw someone say that this story appeared in Pardo Bazán’s 1885 collection La dama joven. I must not have been able to verify that, since I didn’t add that information to my post.


To make up for that, here’s a piece of successful literary sleuthing, from Dark Tales Sleuth.

The gambler 1879
The Gambler by Odilon Redon (1879).
Source: WikiArt
  • Notes on ‘The Magic Dice’: “The Magic Dice” is an early 19th century “deal with the devil” story from the German, translated by Thomas De Quincey. The first link in the article is the story itself, on the Internet Archive.

The provenance of “The Magic Dice,” including the original author and story, is well known, but as a warm-up exercise I verified all the information for myself. All, that is,  short of actually finding an online copy of the German original, “Die Glückswürfel,” which is from the 1814 collection Die Traumdeutung, Herr Blitz, Die Glückswürfel.

The term traumdeutung (interpretation of dreams) is of course the title of a much more famous work by Sigmund Freud, which makes websearching Laun’s collection challenging. However, I did just now find a contemporary (1815) review of the collection. I don’t think it’s very good review; or at least the reviewer didn’t think much of “Die Glückswürfel”. Ah, well. I liked it.


Featured Image: The Dice Players, Georges de la Tour (1650-1651). Source: WikiArt

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