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Poe in ninety-nine etchings


Céline Hudréaux

With her debut ‘Maelstrom’, Céline Hudréaux brings us a fascinating wordless adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s well-known short story ‘A Descent Into the Maelström’. In it, a fisherman recounts how he was the sole survivor after his boat was swallowed up by the Maelstrom, an infamous vortex south of the Lofoten Islands. Hudréaux has gone for a free interpretation in ninety-nine etchings, in which the women of the fishing village and life underwater also receive plenty of attention. By doing so she swaps the sense of oppression in the original for a broader, more atmospheric depiction and makes the story part of something bigger than the Maelstrom.

The way she manages to evoke a very distinctive world in her etchings is impressive and attests to her rich imagination.

The etchings, which are sometimes highly detailed and sometimes no more than a few simple lines, allude to the early years of photography and the films of George Méliès, among other things. Because Poe’s text is included at the back of the book, there’s an interesting dialogue as readers first create their own narrative based on the etchings before reading the short story and returning to the images with the original in mind. ‘Maelstrom’ is an intriguing and beautiful graphic novel.

Powerful at capturing the emotion of what we think it must be like to experience the end of a world at the end of the Earth
The Quietus
Breathtaking and stylistically stripped down