Prince Zaleski - M. P. Shiel 1895 - Roberts Bros., Boston - First American Edition ‘The prince reclined on a couch from which a draping of cloth-of-silver rolled torrent over the floor. Beside him, stretched in its open sarcophagus which rested on three brazen trestles, lay the mummy of an ancient Memphian, from the upper part of which the brown cerements had rotted or been rent, leaving the hideousness of the naked, grinning countenance exposed to view.’

Featuring the titular exiled Russian nobleman,
Prince Zaleski lies comfortably in the intersection between the supernatural and good-old detection. Our protagonist spends the majority of his time lounging comfortably in his half ruined welch castle, smoking hashish and opium while reading medieval texts. His plans of leisure are dashed, however, when his friend Shiel seeks his aid in solving a seemingly closed case, where the culprit was apprehended while standing over the corpse, smoking gun in hand...

Sheil, the author, became one of the first authors to apply the concept of a ‘meta’ narrative by placing himself in the centre of the action, the novel has since been listed in both the Queen’s Quorum and Haycraft-Queen’s Cornerstone titles, and has influenced authors such as Shirley Jackson, Carson McCullers, and Stephen King.
  Published by John Lane in London the same year as the Boston edition, both featuring the same title page and book cover designed by Aubrey Beardsley.

Matthew Phipps Shiel (1865-1947), was a prolific British (or perhaps more accurately West Indian) writer of fantastic fiction remembered mostly for supernatural and scientific romances including The Purple Cloud. By the end of his life he had published over 30 books, the majority of which dealt with themes of either crime, or the supernatural. Shiel was known as a literary innovator for creating one of the first ‘future-history’ concepts in science-fiction, a notion which went on to revolutionise the genre.

Provenance: Charles P. Brightman with his signature stamp to front free endpaper and dedication page.

References: Haycraft,
Murder for Pleasure 80. Ellery Queen, Queen’s Quorum, 19. Herbert, The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing 165.

Octavo (17.5 x 12.5 cm). pp. 207 [1] [20 (publisher’s catalogue)]. In publisher’s red brick cloth (one of at least three different colour bindings), spine lettered in gilt, front board titled and decorated in black, rear board with author’s black embossed key emblem.
  Condition: Fine, very light rubbing to boards.   Ref: 108993   Price: HK$ 4,800