And now we come to the final novel of Paul Leppin, whose novella Daniel Jesus and a few of whose short stories were so vividly sensual in their description of human sexuality and evocative of the hothouse atmosphere of the city he spent his life in, Prague.
Blaugast came into existence with two strikes against it. First, it appears to have been composed late in the author’s career, after he himself was struck with the curse of syphilis (a plague that decimated thousands in turn of the century Europe), and as such has a tendency to display some of the feverish irrationality of a disease tainted brain. He likely wrote it in a consecutive fashion, as the further we get into the proceedings, the more disjointed and insane it appears to become. Associations become tenuous, leaps in logic become pronounced.
Secondly, the timing. The era of fin de siecle Decadence had long since past, and the world, and Europe in particular, thrashed about in the throes of war. By the time the Nazis took power, only to be succeeded by the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia almost immediately after the war, any such literary endeavors were suppressed. In fact, it was not until the 1980s that Leppin’s works were finally published in any broad distribution – he died a sickly and forgotten man over 40 years prior.
But is it, as many have posthumously asserted, Leppin’s greatest work?