The Silver Stallion - James Branch Cabell
After Domnei: A Comedy of Woman-Worship (1913), Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice (1919), and other novels set in the fictional medieval province of Poictesme, comes this 1926 tale, subtitled "A Comedy of Redemption". Here, as in Jurgen, James Branch Cabell gave full rein to his taste for low comedy, much of it misogynistic. I find paragraphs about nagging wives and stupid but sexy princesses quite stale; I was just waiting for the mother-in-law to put in a tiresome appearance (she eventually does). That apart, though, there's a lot in this book that's quite brilliant, as Cabell subtly takes apart the pieties associated with the posthumous elevation of Count Manuel to the status of Redeemer. Cabell heartily dislikes hypocrisy, and in all of his books he shows up the lies that people tell to one another and to themselves. Yet he doesn't have some great idealism to promote himself. He's a thoroughgoing skeptic, a doubter, and that (besides his splendid control of language) is the best thing about his stories.