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Jean Ray

Jean Ray (Jean Ray; real name is Raymond Jean Marie de Kremer (Raymundus Joannes Maria de Kremer); also known by the pseudonym John Flanders) is a Belgian writer born in Ghent.

His official biography is very vague, the writer has put a lot of effort into his life, portraying her facts in romantic tones, and often adding a lot. As a result, a legend arose about a writer who was born in a family of hereditary sailors and went on a sea voyage when he was barely 15 years old; Jean Ray wrote in his autobiography that during his travels lasting more than 20 years (with a 2-year break to study at the university), he sailed hundreds of thousands of kilometers from the Caribbean islands to Carpentaria Bay off the coast of Australia, smuggled whiskey and became almost the last pirate of the twentieth century … In fact, he comes from a family of land officials, and all his personal marine experience is limited to conversations with tipsy sailors in port taverns. More recently, it was found that in 1927, Jean Ray was sentenced to 6 years for some kind of dark financial fraud, but spent only two years in prison.

The first publications of Jean Ray were published already in 1908 – these are short stories, poems, an operetta libretto … In 1925 he published his first book, Les Contes du whiskey (Tales of Whiskey). At the same time, Kremer settles in Rotterdam and devotes himself to literary activity. He writes both in French, under the pseudonym Jean Ray, and in Flemish, under the pseudonyms John Flanders, Peter Gum and John Sailor (it is interesting that in some directories until Ray 1950, Jean Ray and John Flanders were considered as two different authors).

Books written under the pseudonyms Flanders and Sailor were intended primarily for young people. Among them: the adventure novel “La Porte sous les eaux” (“The Door under the Sea”), later substantially supplemented and revised by Jacques van Herp, and collections of fantastic short stories (“La Griffe du Diable” (“Devil’s Claw”) and others). In the 1930s and 1940s, Jean Ray published several short novels (Malpertuis (Malpertuis), La Cité de l’indicible peur (City of Great Fear)) and a number of short stories and short stories: “ Les Derniers contes de Canterbury ”(“ The Last Tales of Canterbury ”),“ Le Carrousel des maléfices ”(“ The Witching Carousel ”),“ Les Contes noirs du Golf ”(“ Black Tales of Golf ”),“ Le Livre des fantômes ”( Phantoms Book), Les Cercles de l’épouvante (Circles of Terror).

Since the early 1930s, Jean Ray has been working for Bravo magazine. Soon, writing became his main occupation. The main result of the next ten years was a multi-volume epic about the adventures of Harry Dixon – the American counterpart to Sherlock Holmes. Curious is the story of his appearance. In 1905–1914, a series of small books were published in Germany in which an unknown author described Sherlock Holmes’s new adventures. When the Bravo editor decided to print their translations, the question arose of changing the name of the protagonist in order to avoid possible claims from Conan Doyle’s heirs. At the suggestion of Jean Ray, the hero was the American Harry Dixon. Over 9 years, 178 issues appeared, coming out twice a month, then once every two months. Jean Ray, already at the very beginning radically reworking extremely weak, primitively written texts of the original, he soon began to rewrite them almost anew, and created the latter, guided only by the picture on the cover of the German edition. The cycle dedicated to Harry Dixon has 99 short novels, including 44 science fiction, 7 science fiction and 48 with a detective or spy story, as well as about forty stories and short stories. This huge layer of Jean Ray’s work was for a long time little known to the general reader, even in French, because texts written in a hurry and then typed by Dutch printers who did not know French well contained numerous errors and inaccuracies. Therefore, their publication required the titanic work of editors. First, in 1966, the fourth volume of the “complete” collected works of Jean Ray was published, which included 8 adventures of Harry Dixon; then, over the course of several years, the Belgian publishing house Gerard & Co. published 14 volumes of Harry Dixon’s adventures and 7 volumes of “off-serial” novels and short stories by Jean Ray.

Under the pseudonym John Flanders, “Ingoldsby Legends” was also released – a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories, poems, written supposedly by a certain Thomas Ingoldsby (pseudonym of the English priest Richard Harris Barram). The book was published without indicating that it is a translation.

And yet, the main genre that Ray used throughout his life was the small novel genre. How many of them were written by the author is almost impossible to say, since it is difficult to take into account all of his works, most of which are not only scattered in little-known and small-circulation newspapers and magazines, but also published under various pseudonyms.

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