James Branch Cabell - Works - The Biography of Manuel

A great deal of Cabell's work has focused on The Biography of Manuel, the story of a character named Dom Manuel and his descendants through many generations. The biography includes a total of 25 works that were written over a 23-year period. Cabell stated that he considered the Biography to be a single work, and supervised its publication in a single uniform edition of 18 volumes, known as the Storisende Edition, published from 1927 to 1930. A number of the volumes of the Biography were also published in editions illustrated by Frank C. Papé between 1921 and 1926.

The themes and characters from Jurgen make appearances in many works included in the Biography. Figures of Earth tells the story of Manuel the swineherd, a scoundrel who rises to conquer a realm by playing on others' expectations —his motto Mundus Vult Decipi, meaning "the world wishes to be deceived." The Silver Stallion is a loose sequel to Figures of Earth that deals with the creation of the legend of Manuel the Redeemer, in which Manuel is pictured as an infallible hero, an example to which all others should aspire; the story is told by Manuel's former knights, who remember how things really were and take different approaches to reconciling the mythology with the actuality of Manuel.

Many of these books take place in the fictional country eventually ruled by Manuel, known as "Poictesme," (pronounced "pwa-tem"). It was the author's intention to situate Poictesme roughly in the south of France. The name suggests the two real French cities of Poitiers (medieval Poictiers) and Angoulême (medieval Angoulesme). Several others take place in the fictional town of Lichfield, Virginia.

After concluding the Biography in 1932, Cabell shortened his professional name to Branch Cabell. The "truncated" name was used for all his new, "post-Biography" publications until the printing of There Were Two Pirates (1946).

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Famous quotes containing the words manuel and/or biography:

    And Manuel embraced his mother and they laughed together: Délira’s laugh sounded surprisingly young; that was because she hadn’t really had the chance to make it heard; life was just not happy enough for that. No, she never had time to use it; she had kept it fresh as can be, like a birdsong in an old nest.
    Jacques Roumain (1907–1945)

    A biography is like a handshake down the years, that can become an arm-wrestle.
    Richard Holmes (b. 1945)