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Otto Julius Bierbaum – Samalio Pardulus

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A gothic novella offering a stepping-stone between German Romanticism and the then-nascent Expressionism

In an isolated castle on the outskirts of a city in the Albanian mountains, the wildly ugly painter of blasphemies, Samalio Pardulus, executes works too monstrous to bear viewing, and espouses a philosophy that posits a grotesque world which reflects the ravings of a dead, grotesque god. Told through the horrified account of Messer Giacomo (a mediocre artist at once repulsed and fascinated by the events unfolding around him), Samalio Pardulus describes the simultaneous descent and ascent of the titular antihero into a passionate perversion of Catholicism in which love and madness become one, as a dark, incestuous incubus settles into a doomed family.


When it was first published in 1908, Otto Julius Bierbaum’s gothic novella–the first of his Sonderbare Geschichten (“Weird Stories”)–offered a Gnostic stepping-stone between German Romanticism and the nascent Expressionism that had not yet taken root. It presents the grotesque not just as a way of life, but as a godly path to a higher vision, even when it appears to be but a manifestation of evil.


This first English edition includes the full set of illustrations by Alfred Kubin from the book’s 1911 German edition.