Jean Ray (1887–1964) is the best known of the multiple pseudonyms of Raymundus Joannes Maria de Kremer. Alternately referred to as the “Belgian Poe” and the “Flemish Jack London,” Ray delivered tales and novels of horror under the stylistic influence of his most cherished authors, Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer. A pivotal figure in what has come to be known as the “Belgian School of the Strange,” Ray authored some 6,500 texts in his lifetime, not including his own biography, which remains shrouded in legend and fiction, much of it his own making. His alleged lives as an alcohol smuggler on rum row in the prohibition era, an executioner in Venice, a Chicago gangster, and hunter in remote jungles in fact covered over a more prosaic, albeit ruinous, existence as a manager of a literary magazine that led to a prison sentence during which he wrote some of his most memorable tales of fantastical fear.
More Than the Belgian Poe: The Overdue Return of Jean Ray’s “Whiskey Tales”
Jean Ray is canny in his writing of the uncanny — he is aware of the pitfalls of the genre and almost always manages to avoid hyperbolic verbosity....