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The Torture of Hope – Villiers de L’isle Adam (1838-1889)
Count Villiers de l’Isle Adam, bom in Brittany in 1838, led a strange life. “Born without average will-power,” says Huneker, “except the will to imagine beautiful and strange things, all his years he fought the contending impulses of his dual nature.”

He was the very model of a bohemian. His strange tales, the best of which are collected under the title Cruel Tales, are fantastic prose poems in the manner of Poe. The Torture of Hope, according to Huneker, recalls Poe at his best.

The Torture of Hope – The present version, anonymously translated, is reprinted from an American collection of tales, not dated. It is from the volume of Cruel Tales.
The Torture of Hope
Many years ago, as evening was closing in, the venerable Pedro Arbuez d’Espila, sixth prior of the Dominicans of Segovia, and third Grand Inquisitor of Spain, followed by a fra redemptor, and pre­ceded by two familiars of the Holy Office, the latter carrying lanterns, made their way to a subterranean dungeon.

The bolt of a massive door creaked, and they entered a mephitic in pace, where the dim light re­vealed between rings fastened to the wall a bloodstained rack, a brazier and a jug. On a pile of straw, loaded with fetters and his neck encircled by an iron carcan, sat a haggard man, of uncertain age, clothed in rags.

This prisoner was no other than Rabbi Aser Abarbanel, a Jew of Aragon, who—accused of usury and pitiless scorn for the poor—had been daily subjected to torture for more than a year. Yet “his blind­ness was as dense as his hide,” and he had refused to abjure his faith.

The Torture of Hope part 4

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Forward! He must hasten toward that goal which he fancied (ab¬surdly, no doubt) to be deliverance, toward the darkness from which he was now barely thirty paces distant. He pressed forward faster on his...

The Torture of Hope part 3

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Suddenly the sound of a sandaled foot approaching reached his ears. He trembled violently, fear stifled him, his sight grew dim. Well, it was over, no doubt. He pressed himself into a niche and,...

The Torture of Hope part 2

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Perhaps Infinite Mercy will shine upon you at the last moment! We must hope so. There are examples. So sleep in peace to-night. To-morrow you will be included in the auto da fe: that...

The Torture of Hope part 1

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Villiers de L`isle Adam (1838-1889)Count Villiers de l`Isle Adam, bom in Brittany in 1838, led a strange life. “Born without average will-power,” says Huneker, “except the will to imagine beautiful and strange things, all...

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