Hubert Crackanthorpe, 1870-1896 — and note the narrowness of that date range — was a young man of letters amid a cosmopolitan group of writers and artists, and who wrote short prose of all kinds: literary criticism, pen-portraits of places and scenes, fiction. He was a key writer of the Decadent period, and old copies of his books remain in libraries, but Crackanthorpe has not had a solid edition of his work put into print for over fifty years. Until now, with the release of Hubert Crackanthorpe: Selected Writings, edited by William Greenslade and Emanuela Ettorre, which is volume 7 in our Jewelled Tortoise series.

Here is a little landscape from Crackanthorpe's Vignettes: A Miniature Journal of Whim and Sentiment (1896) — not because it's typical of Crackanthorpe's work, which is often more down to earth, but just because vignettes make good extracts. In this one he's writing about the Basque country, but he was fully capable of the same tone of numinous wonder about, say, Chelsea.

All day an intense impression of lusty sunlight, of quivering golden-green .... a long, white road that dazzles, between its rustling dark-green walls; blue brawling rivers; swelling upland meadows, flower-thronged, luscious with tall, cool grass; the shepherd’s thin-toned pipe; the ragged flocks, blocking the road, cropping at the hedge-rows as they hurry on towards the mountains; the slow, straining teams of jangling mules — wine-carriers coming from Spain; through dank, cobbled village streets, where the pigs pant their bellies in the roadway, and the sandal-makers flatten the hemp before their doors; and then, out again into the lusty sunlight, along the straight, powdery road that dazzles ahead interminably towards a mysterious, hazy horizon, where the land melts into the sky....

And, at last, the cool evening scents; soft shadows stealing beneath the still, silent oaks; and, all at once, a sight of the great snow-mountains, vague, phantasmagoric, like a mirage in the sky; and of the hills, all indigo, rippling towards a pale sunset of liquid gold.

A more representative sample can be read on Google Books via this new edition's home page.

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