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The Mysteries of New Orleans (The Longfellow Series of American Languages and Literatures) Paperback – June 10, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: The Longfellow Series of American Languages and Literatures
  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (June 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801868823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801868825
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,304,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Uncovering the vices of a city that was steeped in sexual promiscuity of every variety and crimes of greed, passion and malice... Reizenstein invests a good many satiric jibes at religion, society and human nature in general. A mixture of naturalistic realism and gothic melodrama, Mysteries of New Orleans really focuses most of its attention on the city of its title. Reizenstein's greatest talent is for minute detail, and, under his scrutiny, very little that goes on in the city escapes his notice.... Steven Rowan's astute and clearly written introduction and his very informative notes on each chapter are helpful in understanding the historic context of the book. His translation allows readers a glimpse into a city whose varied and intriguing population has created a potpourri as rich today as it was 150 years ago when Baron von Reizenstein took up residence and took up his pen.

(Mary McCay New Orleans Times-Picayune)

The essence of New Orleans is invested in a history of vice, vagrancy, and pirate vibes... What is [this] history exactly? In The Mysteries of New Orleans a novel written in the mid-nineteenth century by Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein, just published by Johns Hopkins University Press, the squalor is more vivid that anything we might mention today. The Baron was just reporting.

(Andrei Codrescu, NPR's All Things Considered)

Ethnic American literature has found legitimacy in the classroom, so this novel comes as a welcome surprise... This roman a clef include[s] scandalous depictions of salacious antebellum life amid the European, African, mulatto, and Creole societies that intermingled in the city... The book offers a rare and candid look into a much earlier time. A significant document.

(Choice)

Painstakingly reconstructed... Has... taken its place as a founding text for a city whose open and tolerant atmosphere was no longer any mystery at all.

(Christopher Capozzola Bay Windows)

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Nina Shishkoff on July 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I *did* mean to stop reading Gothic fiction before I went insane, but I found there was a genre I hadn't covered: Urban Mysteries. The Gothic genre was winding down by the 1840's, for obvious reasons: medieval castles imprisoning wronged virgins were no longer very relevant, and no one could possibly read another book with a dungeon full of skeletons. However, in 1843 Eugene Sue wrote a book called "The Mysteries of Paris" that became a massive bestseller: it mixed real and thinly-disguised fictional characters in sinister conspiracies set in places in Paris familiar to all readers. No one had thought to make a big busy city the site of invisible and unspeakable horrors, so it struck a thrilling chord in urban readers and was enthusiastically copied by hack authors for every big city in Europe and America. The problem was that most of these novels were pretty dismal: there aren't that many vices to serve up freshly horrible day after day.

That's where Baron Ludwig von Reizenstein comes in. He was a German ne'er-do-well sent by his family to make his fortune in America, only he never really buckled down, selling birdcages, working as a surveyor, dabbling in journalism, and collecting insects. He published his scandalous novel "The Mysteries of New Orleans" in installments in one of New Orleans's German-language newspapers beginning in 1854 (where it lay forgotten until recently).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By dc in DC on January 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Called an "urban mystery" and "daring occult novel", I was disappointed to find way too little of either of these things. I think the occult part is supposed to involve a character named Hiram; tho he appears in very little of the story. He is supposed to be over 200 years old, and seems to come and go somewhat mysteriously. Anything else occult that he does appears in only a handful of pages very late in the book. Even then, it doesn't seem to really be occult as much as a slide show (were there slides back then?) of pictures that bother the other characters. It is not clear why. I found it very hard to keep going; tho I did finally finish. Even tho it's fiction, I think it is probably a good account of life at that time. If that's what you want, you'll enjoy it. Just don't go into this looking for an occult mystery.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vernon A. Brou Jr. on April 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This lost author, Ludwig von Reizenstein is also the "Father of Louisiana Lepidopterists". Professor Rowan has unearthed a wealth of information and a lost chapter in the entomological history of the state of Louisiana. The amount of research and details presented about von Reizenstein is truly mind boggling - [...]
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