The White Robe

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The White Robe: A Saint’s Summary by James Branch Cabell.

Cabell The White Robe

You could be forgiven for concluding from the subtitle (“A Saint’s Summary”) that James Branch Cabell’s novella The White Robe was a hagiography. For that, though, you should read the story of Saint Hoprig in the loosely-related novel The High Place. What you will find in The White Robe is an account of a seventeenth-century rogue whose career as a savage lycanthrope fits him for great success as a high ecclesiastic. Sorry about the spoiler, but I’ve left out the final twist, as well as several in the interim. As usual with Cabell, though, the fun is less the plot than the rhetorically elaborate but emotionally understated prose.

In ten very short chapters, this book is a good representative introduction to Cabell’s fantasy work. Unfortunately, it is pretty scarce in its beautiful 1928 first edition, which is in the Polyphilus typeface on handmade paper, with simulated medieval-style wood boards, and full-page illustrations by Robert E. Locher. [via]