Fantazius Mallare/The Kingdom of Evil

by Ben Hecht

Fantazius Mallare/The Kingdom of Evil Essay - Critical Essays

Analysis

Fantazius Mallare begins with an eight-page dedication that is a diatribe against censors. Above every page of this lengthy dedication, the reader discerns illustrator Wallace Smith’s drawing of a phallus entering a vagina resting in barbed wire. Hecht despised censors of books (the Society for the Suppression of Vice in particular) and wrote the scandalous Fantazius Mallare partly to incite a lawsuit so that he could sue censors for defamation and destroy them. To incite censors to object, Hecht added the character Rita, the sensuous gypsy, to the novel. To Hecht’s surprise, the United States Post Office censored and confiscated copies of Fantazius Mallare, and the author paid a thousand dollar fine to avoid prison.

After the bilious dedication, the novel proceeds with another Wallace Smith drawing, a picture of Mallare engaging in sexual intercourse with a tree in the shape of a woman. The drawing may foreshadow Mallare’s journal entry in which he states that he loves trees that are void of leaves because they detract from the supposed beauty of the houses to which they stand adjacent. Mallare enjoys contorted things because he believes that people mistakenly believe that art should be symmetrical and because he considers human nature equally deformed. Mallare asserts that he loves trees because he and they lack a handicap—reason.

Mallare, as a slave and victim in The Kingdom of Evil, constructs...

(The entire section is 533 words.)