Lady into Fox by David Garnett, 1922, from McSweeney’s Collins Library Imprint.
A beautiful edition and a wonderful story about a man who stays true to the very end.
It’s Kafka with kindness.
This is the first couple paragraphs:
"Wonderful or supernatural events are not so uncommon, rather they
are irregular in their incidence. Thus there may be not one marvel to
speak of in a century, and then often enough comes a plentiful crop of
them; monsters of all sorts swarm suddenly upon the earth, comets blaze
in the sky, eclipses frighten nature, meteors fall in rain, while
mermaids and sirens beguile, and sea-serpents engulf every passing
ship, and terrible cataclysms beset humanity.
"But the strange events which I shall here relate came alone,
unsupported, without companions into a hostile world, and for that very
reason claimed little of the general attention of mankind. For the
sudden changing of Mrs. Tebrick into a vixen is an established fact
which we may attempt to account for as we will. Certainly it is in the
explanation of the fact, and the reconciling of it with our general
notions that we shall find most difficulty, and not in accepting for
true a story which is so fully proved, and that not by one witness but
by a dozen, all respectable, and with no possibility of collusion
"But here I will confine myself to an exact narrative of the event
and all that followed it. Yet I would not dissuade any of my readers
from attempting an explanation of this seeming miracle because up till
now none had been found which is entirely satisfactory. What adds to
the difficulty to my mind is that the metamorphosis occurred when Mrs.
Tebrick was a full-grown woman, and that it happen suddenly in so short
a space of time. The sprouting of a tail, the gradual extension of hair
all over the body the slow change of the whole anatomy by a process of
growth though it would have been monstrous, would not have been so
difficult to reconcile to our ordinary conceptions, particularly had it
happened in a young child.
"But here we have something very different. A grown lady is changed
straightaway into a fox. There is no explaining that away by any
natural philosophy. The materialism of our age will not help us here …"
According the introduction by Paul Collins, Garnett’s 2nd book was called A Man in the Zoo, about a gentleman who, finding the London Zoo has no example of homo sapiens on exhibit, offers himself up. I don’t know if that’s in print but I’d like to check that one out too.