I have to say I have a deep love for cheap 19th century novels. There is a certain low-brow charm about them that is difficult to articulate. Anyhow, one of the books I am currently reading is by Xavier de Montépin and is called I Misteri dell’India. It is about a young English gentleman who goes to India and finds himself the amorous subject of an Indian princess who is fond of makings use of sleeping potions, large silent servants who keep their arms crossed and suppers in the recesses of abandoned temples in the jungle.
The sequel, which I haven’t begun yet, is titled Il Velo e l’Anello. These books were originally written in French, but I am reading the Italian translations. It is a shame that this author has never been put into English. Not that many people would read him even if he were. But it is still a shame.
De Montépin was a prolific author, hugely popular in his lifetime. I am not sure how many books he wrote, but I myself have a healthy stack and know of a huge number of titles that I have never had the opportunity to read. Here is a brief bio of the author, probably more complete than anything currently available in English on the internet:
Xavier de Montépin – He was born in Apremont on March 18th, 1824 and died in Paris on April 30th, 1902. He began life as a journalist, and wrote in conjunction with the Marquis de Foudras the novels Les chevaliers du lansquenet (10 vols., 1847) and Les viveurs d’autrefois (4 vols., 1848), to which he added many others equally descriptive of the elegant demi-monde. He gained great notoriety by the suppression of his licentious Filles de platre (7 vols., 1855), but continued to produce other voluminous works of a similar character, including Le bigame, Le mari de Marguerite, Confessions de Tulla, Les drames de l’adultere, La comtesse de Nancey, etc. His most famous novel however was La Porteuse de pain. He also assisted the elder Dumas as a playwright.