Friday, October 30, 2015
More Than A Werewolf
The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore is often regarded as the definitive werewolf novel, the lupine equivalent of Dracula for the vampire. It was an instant best-seller in its time and has been popular ever since.
Yet how many readers could name another book by Endore, or know anything about his life? In Wormwood 25, Australian author Chris Mikul recounts Endore’s extraordinary career and examines his other writings:
“In person, Endore was a mass of contradictions. Slightly built and mild of manner, his demeanour was in such contrast to the violence of works like The Werewolf of Paris that his friend Alexander Woollcott, the famous critic for the New Yorker, dubbed him ‘the Weremouse’. He had been a vegetarian since his student days, was a keen practitioner of yoga, and always looked years younger than his age. Every morning he sprang out of bed and stood on his head for half an hour, and repeated the exercise later in the day. Although Jewish, he kept a Bible by his bed and often read from it, and had a lifelong interest in mysticism, especially Theosophy. Yet, while such enthusiasms sometimes made his fellow communists suspicious, he was a confirmed Stalinist for most of the years he was a member of the party.”
And Endore’s other fiction proves to be just as strange as his famous werewolf novel, lurid, brutal, fast-paced, yet also with genuinely thoughtful themes and original ideas, a bizarre hybrid of pulp prose and radical philosophy. It’s as if Freud and Marx had joined in a danse macabre with figures from the bestiary of the uncanny.
Chris Mikul’s essay reintroduces us to an author whose classic book has obscured his other work and the hectic story of his life and thought.