In this collection of "Cruel Tales," we meet a unique and colorful cast of extraordinary characters such as Akedysseril the Queen of India, Mayeris the big game hunter who capured the sacred white elephant, Maryelle the courtesan, Catalina the gypsy toast of Santander, Mahoin the brigand, the murderous Doctor Hallidon, Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada and Tomolo Ké Ké the Antipodean who traversed the Earth. The Comte de Villiers de l'Isle Adam (1838-1889), pioneer of the Symbolist Movement, is known for his proto-science fiction works Axel (1885) and L'Eve Future (1886). He also wrote many "cruel tales", only a handful of which have ever been translated before this publication of The Scaffold. Poet Paul Verlaine called Villiers' works a "genial melange of irony, metaphysics and terror"and translator Brian Stableford dubs it "a bizarre literary landmark." Brian Stableford has published more than fifty novels and two hundred short stories. This book is the first English-language edition, and includes an authoritative introduction and historical notes.