“The edge of the whirl was represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray; but no particle of this slipped into the mouth of the terrific funnel”.

The Maelstrom, the terrifying and mysterious whirlpool that forms in the Norwegian Sea off the Lofoten Islands, is the main protagonist in A Descent Into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe, translated into French by Charles Baudelaire and published by Devambez under the Masque d’Or imprint in 1920.

An old sailor, standing on a storm-battered cliff, recounts his youthful journey into the darkest depths of the sea.

Written in 1841, this initiatory encounter with the spirit world and the mystery of Death is both a classic tale and an early foreshadowing of science fiction.

“The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upon the interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, prodigious in depth”.

Any man who miraculously returned from such a voyage could never be the same again.

The book, a limited edition of 450 copies, featured illustrations by Marc Roux, whose raw, stylized, spare use of black and white and expressionistic use of colour gave his work an astonishingly modern feel.

Edgar Allan Poe, Une descente dans le maelstrom, translated by Charles Baudelaire, illustrated with woodcuts by Marc Roux, À l’enseigne du Masque d’Or, Paris, Devambez, 1920

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