The Prince of Fools
by Gérard de Nerval
Adapted by Brian Stableford
cover by Aurelien Hubert
A strange thickset individual, who was neither handsome nor ugly, with the vivacity of a monkey, agitated in that noble assembly. Of all those who had seen him or had talked to him, none could say: “He has this appearance, or this accent,” so much did he vary his pose, his gestures and his voice. He was the Prince of Fools.
During the Reign of French King Charles VI, a fierce struggle for power develops between the king's brother, Louis d’Orléans, and his cousin, Jean de Bourgogne. When the latter instigates the murder of the former in 1407, the conflict degenerates into a civil war between Burgundians and Armagnacs.
In the midst of this blood-drenched background, a mysterious comedian and proto-anarchist nicknamed the “Prince of Fools” schemes to save the innocent, punish the villains, and undermine the aristocratic order invisibly and subtly through the medium of plays.
The Prince of Fools was initially published in 1887 prefaced (or possibly extensively rewritten?) by Gérard de Nerval’s editor, Louis Ulbach, who claimed to have located the manuscript, which was itself based on an unproduced play by Nerval.
Le Prince des Sots (1887)