The first English translation of a Gothic romance by Dumas päre, set in the mountains north of Frankfurt during the Napoleonic wars. Maximilian von Eppstein wins a politically useful marriage with innocent Albina von Schwalbach by pretending to be a heroic poet with medieval manners. But the marriage, once accomplished, quickly sours: The Count lets his true boorishness and fierce temper show. Then the French army threatens, and Maximilian departs for Vienna; a French soldier, Captain Jacques, is wounded near Castle Eppstein, and Albina nurses him until he can rejoin his troops. On Maximilian's return, reports of the Captain's sojourn make him crazy with jealousy; and when he discovers that Albina's pregnant, his suspicions run rampant. In the midst of a fierce quarrel, he kills her. But her baby, Everard, is saved. Maximilian again storms off to Vienna, devoting himself to ambition and his heir, a son from a previous marriage. Meanwhile, the local forester raises Everard along with his own daughter, Rosamund. The boy becomes a wild child of the forest, happy in Rosamund's company, and tended to constantly by the loving ghost of his mother. When Rosamund and Everard recognize that their bond is—what else?—true love, she is practical: their class difference precludes marriage. Everard promises otherwise; but the untimely death of his brother the heir will change the picture. A strange brew of classic Gothic embellishments (the wind! the forest! the white-clad ghost of Albina!) and odder psychological inquiry: Everard is torn between the rational precepts of his book-learning and the tragic destiny he intuitively knows he must face. A far-fetched and overwrought plot, then, but also an atmospheric curiosity.
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