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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)