Translated by Brian Stableford
Sabbat, by Hélène Picard (1873-1945), first published in 1923, is one of the most forthright contributions to the rich French tradition of “literary Satanism.” It was issued as part of a “Collection Colette,” and is dedicated to Colette, who also provided the preface, the brief text of which implies strongly that the book was commissioned by her.
Seeing Satan emerging from a poppy and accepting him as her poetic savior, Picard sets forth in this series of interlocked prose-poems to unpack the notion of Satanism and specify its real implications, with a surreal flamboyance that is typically “decadent” and which Baudelaire would surely have understood and approved of.
Though exceedingly obscure, Sabbat, here presented for the first time in English, in a fine translation by Brian Stableford, is a very intriguing work, of considerable importance as a late addition to the canon of Decadent literature, which deserves to be much more widely read and appreciated.
About the Author
Hélène Picard (1873-1945) published her first book, the lyrical drama La Feuille morte, in 1903, which was followed by a number of volumes of poetry, including L’Instant éternel (1907) and Les Fresques (1908). The author was briefly employed as Colette’s secretary while the latter was working for Le Matin in 1920, and, in 1924, she published, as part of a “Collection Colette,” her only prose work, Sabbat, one of the great works of literary Satanism.