The Vampire of Ropraz Paperback – Apr 1 2009
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"A superb novel, hard as a winter in these landscapes of dark forests, where an atmosphere of prejudice and violence envelops the reader" L'Express"An admirable story teller, Chessex surprises again with this terrifying portrait of a region, of an era and of a man with a strange destiny." Livres Hebdo"It's beautiful; it's pure, like a blue sky over a black forest. Giono without garlic and olives." Le Point"Far from just telling us a simple story Chessex has had the intelligence to integrate a dose of poetry, of the aesthetics of sin, and of the metaphysics of the monster." Lire
About the Author
Jacques Chessex, born in 1934, won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize for his novel L'Ogre. He is considered one of Switzerland's greatest authors, a novelist, poet, essayist and winner of the French Literature Grand Prix of the Academie Française. W.Donald Wilson is a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He is a translator of fiction and non-fiction from the French and his work includes titles by Yves Theriault and Jean Heffer.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Two more corpses are found as mutilated as that of the young girl. Suspicion falls on stable boy Favez due to his being a loner and more so because of his eyes, which are a bit more reddish than normal. He is arrested and sent to an asylum to receive psychiatric help.
This is an interesting fictionalization of a true crime incident in which the reactions to the depravity is the prime emphasis instead of the horror or the inquiry. In 106 pages, Jacques Chessex contrasts the pristine cold beauty of the region to the cold-blooded horrific defiling acts and the reactions of the locals who turn to superstition to ward off evil. Although not a supernatural thriller as the title is a metaphor and neither a police procedural investigative tale, THE VAMPIRE OF ROPRAZ is a fine historical tale that looks deep at Swiss villagers' reactions to gruesome deeds at the turn of the previous century with a fitting final spin.
"Endlessly construing the threat from deep within and from without, from the forest, from the cracking of the roof, from the wailing of the wind, from the beyond, from above, from beneath, from below: the threat from elsewhere. You bar yourself inside you skull, your sleep, your heart, your senses; you bolt yourself inside your farmhouse, gun at the ready, with a haunted, hungry soul."
The terror begins in Jacques Chessex's atmospheric novella when the recently buried corpse of 20-year-old Rosa Gilliéron, daughter of the town's Justice of the Peace, is found unearthed and violently desecrated. The local paper quickly labels the perpetrator the "Vampire of Ropraz," and the finger-pointing starts. Loaded with sexual tension and provincial overreaction, The Vampire of Ropraz is a dark portrait of a remote place trapped in its own suspicions and tortured by its oppressive religious beliefs: "There is, above all, welling up from generations of tortured brooding, the assurance of punishment from on high suspended over our lives."
Nine-tenths of The Vampire of Ropraz is a concise and masterful rendering of a dark place victimized by an even darker act. A bizarre, ironic twist at the very end of the story, however, throws a farcical light over the book, serving to undo much of the powerful effect achieved earlier. It's an unfortunate ending to a grimly entertaining tale.
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