#1 - Author's Note
Set of Six
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Each of the stories in this collection is spun from a simple, if typically wry and bleak, idea. In "Gaspar Ruiz", a South American general who has fought in a war of independence tells his guests a long tale about a notorious strong man that explains the origin of his current domestic arrangements. "The Informer" leads the reader into the depths of a political conspiracy, dealing very slyly indeed with questions of truth and pretence. In "The Brute", we are asked whether we can believe there could be such a thing as a positively malevolent ship, while "An Anarchist" introduces us to an unfortunate man who has had a vision of society itself as malevolent and has not been able to rest in peace ever since. "The Duel", the most obviously likeable tale in this collection, recounts the history of an unfortunate feud between two officers of Napoleon's army that caused them to fight a series of duels over many years. "Il Conde" rounds out the collection, giving a new twist to the saying "See Naples and die". (Summary by Peter Dann)
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