Fantastic Victoriana: O


'Halloran, Jack. Jack O'Halloran is the narrator of Tom Greer's A Modern Daedalus (1887). Greer (1846-1904) was an Irish writer and surgeon who lived in England from about 1880. The novel is set in 1887 and is...well, marred, from beginning to end; O'Halloran writes that he doesn't want to be accused of "unpardonable egotism and wearisome prolixity," but that is an adequate description of both the narrator and the book, which is a tedious attempt at singing the ills of British treatment of Irish. Which is not a simple matter by any means, and the British were and are not innocent of wrong-doing in Ireland--far from it--but Greer loads the deck with his portrayal of egotistical, evil Brits and good, brave, noble Irish.

O'Halloran is obsessed with flight, even as a child; after graduating from college he returns to Ireland to build a flying device. After much experimentation he discovers a means of unaided unpowered flight. The specifics are never detailed, although he talks about wearing a pair of six-foot-long wings and flying with them. Nor are his means of propulsion detailed; the reader is left with the implication that O'Halloran flaps like a bird to propel himself. There are some obvious logical difficulties with this, especially since he routinely hits speeds of 100 mph.

Jack is the son of an independence-minded father, and has three brothers (their mother has passed away). His father is a self-righteous ideologue who is given to statements like "freedom never lasts unless it is clamped with iron and cemented with blood, and one ounce of lead weighs heavier than fifty columns of speeches" and who condemns the British for acts that he condones coming from the Irish. When Jack refuses to give the flying device to his father to help against the English, he is thrown out of the house. He rebuilds the wings at friend's house and flies to London and makes public debut. This creates a sensation, and so he writes a newspaper column describing himself.  He attends a long-winded Parliament debate and then approaches the Home Secretary and arranges for demonstration of his device (O'Halloran is looking to produce the device for the good of mankind; he is not interested in monetary gain). He is tailed home by a government agent/police detective, however, and on figuring this out scarpers. When he hears news of an Irish uprising, he returns to Parliament to hear the debates, but is caught in a stampede there and is partially trampled, ending up in the medical care of the British government.

The uprising becomes a full-scale revolt. The Home Secretary offers Jack a large salary to make the wings for the British; Jack wants to make the device available for the world, but the Home Secretary (quite rightfully) is afraid of the wings falling into the hands of the Irish or the Continentals, who would attack and bombard England. When Jack refuses to sell the device to the British (even for £100,000 pounds), the Home Secretary (who is never named) refuses to let him go free; if the British can't have the invention, no one will. News filters in about the Irish guerrillas making monkeys out of the British troops; the Irish snipers are so wonderful that they are able to target the British officers, whose deaths so demoralise the British troops that they are unable to function well. (Oh, naturally)

Jack is rescued by his brother, who he teaches to fly. They escape together to Ireland and Jack, now forgiven by his brother and hailed by the common people as a hero, trains a brigade of fliers. They drop bombs on a British brigade and sink a few British ironclads, and while Jack hypocritically mews about how what he is doing makes him sick he continues onward and helps kill hundreds more soldiers. They destroy the English forces in Ireland, England submits to Irish independence, and the Irish continue to build a flying force, which at novel's end is a thousand strong.

My advice to you, Dear Reader, is to avoid A Modern Daedalus; to quote dear Doro Parker, this is not a book to be set down, it is a book to be flung aside with great force.

hmura. Ohmura was created by Yuuhou Kikuchi and appeared in "Kokuji Tantei" (Affairs of State Detective), which was published in 1898 in the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun newspaper. Ohmura...well, bear with me on this, and remember that suspension of disbelief is necessary to fully enjoy any fictional work. Ohmura is the best detective that Shoh Kawamichi has working for him, and so when there's a tough case, Ohmura is assigned to it. In this case there is a threat to the French Crown Prince, and so Shoh sics Ohmura on to the would-be assassin. See, Shoh is the Chief of Police for Paris, and...

Remember what I said about suspension of disbelief?

Shoh is the Chief of Police for Paris, and he learns that Takeshi Nishinoh, that very dangerous German scientist and anarchist, is--

Disbelief suspension, remember?

Takeshi Nishinoh is the most dangerous of the German anarchists, and a scientist to boot, and Shoh learns from an informant that Takeshi has entered France with the intention of assassinating the French Crown Prince. So Takeshi dispatches Ohmura to take care of Takeshi. Fortunately, Shoh's informant is a good one, and Shoh is aware of the method by which the assassination is to take place: Takeshi, or one of his accomplices, will disguise himself as a flower girl and will lure the Prince to a remote location, ostensibly to seduce him but actually to murder him with poison gas.

Ohmura investigates and discovers that the flower girl Takeshi is going to disguise himself as, Ohana, is actually Takeshi's younger sister, that Ohana is the favorite of the Prince, and that Ohana is conspiring with Takeshi to murder the Prince. Ohmura has one of his men disguise himself as a thug and assault Ohana, and Ohmura appears and rescues her. He then escorts Ohana back to her place and gains her trust. She lets slip that Takeshi is staying in a boarding house somewhere and that she, Takeshi, and her husband, Mr. Kumoi, the owner of the flower shop, are in communication with Takeshi. Ohmura later learns that Kumoi, a sumo instructor, has come to Paris first to defeat the sumo champion of Paris--

Suspend disbelief, Dear Reader. Trust me, this will all be over soon.

Kumoi has come to Paris to defeat the "Masked Wrestler," the masked sumo champion of Paris, and after his victory intends to go to a nearby park, hide there, and wait until the Prince appears, accompanied by Takeshi. Kumoi intends to gas the Prince at that time.

Unfortunately for Kumoi, Takeshi, and Ohana, Ohmura himself is the Masked Wrestler. Ohmua defeats Kumoi in the sumo match, gets the information of the murderous tryst, and goes off to stop it. Ohmura defeats Takeshi in a sword fight and arrests everyone except Ohana, who escapes.

ke, Alice. Alice Oke was created by “Vernon Lee” and appeared in The Phantom Lover (1886). “Vernon Lee” was the pen name of Violet Paget, the brilliant creator of “Amour Dure” (see the Medea da Carpi entry for more on her). The Phantom Lover, which has also appeared under the title “Oke of Okehurst”, is another typically excellent work by Paget, and if it lacks the sinister femme fatale of “Amour Dure” it more than makes up for it in atmosphere.

Mr. Oke is the current member of the Okes of Okehurst. The Okehursts have been landed gentry in Kent going back to the Saxon times, and Mr. Oke is the last member of that line. His wife, Alice, is taken with the work of a painter, so Mr. Oke hires him to do a portrait of the pair. The painter, who is the narrator of The Phantom Lover, visits them in their sprawling King James 1 mansion in Kent and is struck by Alice. Mr. Oke is a handsome, well-made man, but in personality he is diffident and deeply uncomfortable around others, including and especially his wife. But Alice...she is “exquisite and strange.” “Exquisite” because she is tall, willowy, and strikingly beautiful, although in ways not at all au courant. “Strange” because she has cultivated dreaminess almost to an art form, and she spends her time thinking of something else. She presents a “mixture of extreme graciousness and utter indifference,” and most of the time she treats the painter as if he were a piece of furniture. Her treatment of her husband is worse; she seems to feel only contempt for him, and continually brings up the one subject that her husband is the most uncomfortable discussing or hearing discussed, which is also the one thing she spends her time thinking about: Nicholas Oke, his wife Alice, Alice’s lover Christopher Lovelock, and the end of their lover’s triangle, in the early part of the 17th century, when Nicholas and Alice, dressed as a groom, waylaid and murdered Christopher. As time goes by she becomes more and more involved in her imaginings of the past–she was obsessed to begin with, but her obsession waxes and finally peaks–and she increasingly goads her poor husband about his ghostly rival for her heart (although Mr. Oke really has no part of her heart), until finally the spirit of Christopher Lovelace manifests itself and accompanies Alice Oke on her walks around the Okehurst grounds. Mr. Oke, driven mad with his own obsession for her, shoots her and then himself and dies raving. A locket is found around her neck, containing hair which can only have come from Lovelock.

The Phantom Lover is a different story from “Amour Dure,” but excellent in its own way. “Amour Dure” had a mounting obsession and a descent into insanity. The Phantom Lover has instead a character study–that of the relationship between Mr. Oke and Alice Oke–drawn with psychological penetration and plausibility. Alice’s dreamy otherworldliness is unrealistic, obviously, but the dynamic between husband and wife, the cruel contempt and the psychologically beaten victim, is very realistic. Paget’s characterization in The Phantom Lover is excellent; the characters are in an unreal situation, but they are quite three dimensional, much more so than characters are in most other horror stories. There’s also a blurring of gender lines, with Mr. Oke being cast in a stereotypically female way (passive, the figure hurt by the cruelty of the spouse) and Alice in a stereotypically masculine way (the heartless philanderer), that makes prolonged consideration of the story rewarding. There’s not a lot of horror in The Phantom Lover, because the ghost is not threatening and the only menace is to be found in Alice’s dispassionate sneers toward her husband, but Paget creates a very atmospheric story, with a number of involving visual and sensual descriptions. And jaded old readers of horror stories, like myself, will find that some of their expectations–like, say, that the narrator’s painting of Alice Oke will also show Christopher Lovelock, and that Mr. Oke will go mad on seeing it–will be pleasingly confounded.

Alice Oke is not exactly a femme fatale, certainly not to the same degree that Medea da Carpi is. But she is the cause of doom of a male close to her (Paget liked writing these female doom-causing characters). Her obsession with the past, especially the Alice Okehurst who loved Christopher Lovelock and who killed him, is so all-consuming that she lives there mentally almost all of the time, and the only time she cares about the narrator is when he talks to her of the former lover’s triangle. Her disdain for her husband isn’t even angry; she doesn’t care for him enough to become emotional about him. He’s simply a mild annoyance. The only thing she does care about is Christopher Lovelock, and that’s what kills her–but in the narrator’s own words, “it seemed such an appropriate end for her; I fancy she would have liked it could she have known it.”

The Phantom Lover, like “Amour Dure,” will make most readers wonder why they haven’t heard more of Vernon Lee/Violet Paget, and should send them stampeding to the Ash-Tree Press edition of Hauntings.

Old Man in the Corner. See the Man in the Corner entry.

ld Shatterhand. Old Shatterhand and his constant companion Winnetou appeared in Winnetou, the Apache Knight (1898) and several more novels. Old Shatterhand was created by Karl May (1842-1912). May, a German, was an interesting case, a liar, braggart, egomaniac and fraud who was also incredibly popular and capable of writing undeniably entertaining and moving (in a primal, pulp sort of way) stories (despite never having visited the areas he wrote about). Old Shatterhand and Winnetou are little known in America, but in Europe their popularity has remained constant for decades.

Old Shatterhand is actually Karl, a short, blond, cigar-smoking German (May's fictional stand-in) who after various travels around the world had come to the United States as a tutor. He'd joined a railway surveying team and ended up being schooled in the ways of the West by other German Westmänner (May's name for frontiersmen of the American West). He gains his nickname after a battle with a group of Kiowa; Karl's strength is such that he is capable of knocking out enemies with one punch, and after laying waste to the Kiowa with his hands he is dubbed "Old Shatterhand" by the other Westmänner.

Karl heads West with the surveying team, taking with him his two rifles, Henrystutzen (Henry Rifle) and Bärentöter (Kill-Bear), both made by the famous gun maker Mr. Henry and capable of miraculous deeds. After being captured by the Mescalero Apache he wins his freedom and befriends Winnetou, the son of Intschu-tschuna, the chief of the Mescalero. Winnetou eventually becomes Old Shatterhand's blood brother and educates him in the ways of the "Indian." Winnetou also teaches Karl how to speak "Apache" and "Navajo." (Karl speaks German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, six dialects of Arabic, Sioux, Comanche, Snake, Ute, Kiowa, and "Chinese")

Karl, Winnetou, and Karl's abnormally intelligent and faithful horse Hatatitla continue their wandering, having various adventures, avenging wrongs, rescuing maidens, and in general doing all the things that heroes of the fictional West are supposed to do. Old Shatterhand, as mentioned, is short and blond, usually clad in buckskin. Winnetou is a bronze god. He has "an earnest, manly, beautiful face, the cheekbones of which barely stood out; [it] was almost Roman, and the color of his skin was a dull, light brown, with a breath of bronze floating over it." He's not only easy on the eyes, he's also brilliant, educated, and has a poet's soul.

Karl May Gesellschaft
A page by a May devotee on the man and his work. Somewhat ingenuously written, and dedicated to turning a blind eye to the man's faults, but informative nonetheless.

May, Karl
A good, detailed, long biography on May.

Winnetou, the Apache Knight
The HTMLized version of the novel.

ld Sleuth. Old Sleuth, with Old King Brady and Old Cap Collier one of the most popular dime novel detectives, was created by Harlan P. Halsey (1839?-1898), a director of the Brooklyn Education Board and author of many dime novels. Old Sleuth first appeared in "Old Sleuth, the Detective; or, The Bay Ridge Mystery," in Fireside #241, 10 June 1872, and like Brady and Collier was popular more or less immediately, spawning in 1885 the Old Sleuth Library, and later, in 1892, the Young Sleuth Library. Although he only appeared in around 50 of the 202 issues of the Old Sleuth Library, he was credited with being the writer of every issue and with being a real person. The "Old Sleuth" is one of the earliest written usages of the word "sleuth," Halsey having shortened the term "sleuth-hound," and the character was largely responsible for the public identifying the name "Old Sleuth" with fictional detectives; this lasted at least until 1908, when a nickelodeon film, "Old Sleuth, the Detective," was made.

Sleuth is similar in many ways to both Brady and Collier. However, Sleuth holds pride of place among them in at least two respects. He is the first serialized detective character, and he was the first fictional detective who was, in the ways that mattered, superhuman. Too, as Lydia Godfrey (undoubtedly among others) has noted, he was the first significant fictional character to begin the shift, in popular fiction, from a focus on Western adventures to a focus on detective stories. Old Sleuth was actually a pseudonym; the detective known as "Old Sleuth" is actually Harry Loveland (contrary to what I'd said previously, he does have a name), "Old Sleuth" merely being his favorite disguise. Yes, the Sleuth is a master of disguise, like Brady and Collier and many another detective. However, Sleuth's skills at disguise are extraordinary, enabling him to become anyone from a down-and-out tramp to an "evil, wizened Oriental" to a sanctimonious old millionaire with only a little grease paint and facial putty. Likewise, Sleuth has an extraordinary, even superhuman amount of energy, able to keep going where other, only human men and women flag. His strength is almost unbelievable; like Collier, he is able to throw grown thugs around like pillows. Unlike Collier, however, the clear source in the novels of Sleuth's strength and abilities is his moral superiority; he neither smokes nor drinks and never entertains an unchivalrous thought about the fairer sex. As an Avenging Detective he is always in complete control of every situation, even when threatened with fists, knives, clubs and guns. Sleuth is able to fight and shoot his way out of any situation, regardless of seeming difficulties. The Sleuth is also fluent in German and French, knows every inch of New York City, and can "read bank books like an accountant." Harry Loveland lives with his family (rich wife and a varying number of children) in a rich mansion in a very good section of New York City.

Mary Noel, in Villains Galore, makes the point that the Old Sleuth, like many another of the dime novel detectives, was not really in different stories; the authors simply substituted a detective for the ordinary hero. The detective did what other fictional heroes did, but with the added cachet of being a professional detective. The Old Sleuth's detecting abilities were not extraordinary, in large part because the audience's expectations were not geared towards long, drawn-out explanations or feats of deduction. When a clue was found by the Old Sleuth, it was usually due to coincidence or careful planning on the detective's part rather than to flashes of insight. The Old Sleuth, as it happened, was much better at being violent than at being a detective, and that was at least as much of a help to him in solving cases as his being a detective was.

Harry Loveland, as mentioned, was the "Old Sleuth." He began simply as "Sleuth." After the first story he became "Old Sleuth." Two years later "Young Badger" joined the "Old Sleuth," Badger being a skilled younger detective. Loveland himself began as a young man disguised as an older man, but soon after his debut he became a legitimately old man. The Old Sleuth often worked alone. Many other times he teamed up with Badger. On other occasions he teamed up with other detectives who had appeared in stories written by "Old Sleuth:" Old Electricity, the Lightning Detective, the Gypsy Detective, and the Irish Detective.

To quote Lydia Godfrey again,

Sleuth was charismatic and cultured. He attracted helpless heroines whom he heroically rescued. His specialty was reuniting unsullied, orphaned maidens with their rightful inheritance. (sic) He preferred his heroines demure and docile, blushing and appreciative. There were no women's libbers in Sleuth's world. As he propelled from one death-defying rescue to another, he could rally the unflagging (sic) spirits of many a distressed damsel by implanting a kiss upon her ever pure brow. In wonder she would turn to him and exclaim, "You are a man, strong and vigorous and helpful. I am a women (sic), weak and friendless and consequently helpless." With that kind of backing and without further adieu, Sleuth went on to accomplish miracle after miracle.

Consistently on behalf of his heroines, he scaled gigantic fences, stared down Siberian bloodhounds, escaped from gas filled vaults, discovered hidden staircases, fought five assailants concurrently, rescued drugged virgins from coffins, outwitted plotting gypsies, thwarted Indian Thugs, identified blood clotted tresses, unearthed buried treasure, and thumped mad rapists with his locust. There was nothing Sleuth couldn't do.

Old Sleuth
A brief few paragraphs on Sleuth, with an image of one of his covers, from the Dime Novels at Stanford site.

rbasan. Orbasan was created by Wilhelm Hauff and appeared in Der Marchen Almanac (1826). Hauff (1802-1827) was a German tutor who entertained his pupils with a storytelling hour after their lessons were done. The pupils' mother, the Baroness von Hugel, insisted that Hauff write down the stories. He finally did and had them published, to immediate and overwhelming success (Hauff was called, by one critic, "the darling of the gods," and the book went through numerous reprintings). Hauff then became a full-time writer, publishing various fairy tales, a historical novel (which did much to establish the legitimacy of the historical romance genre in Germany), and plays and song lyrics, two of which became popular folk songs.

Der Marchen Almanac, or The Almanac (as it is in the English translations of the novel), is a collection of fairy tales showing not just the influence of E.T.A. Hoffmann but also of The Arabian Nights, which was Hauff's favorite childhood reading. (Remember that Hauff wrote the almanac before Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm Brothers produced the best of their work). The framing story is of a stranger who joins a caravan crossing the long desert. The stranger persuades the five merchants who co-own the caravan to tell stories at night, as a way to pass the time. What follows are stories very much in the Arabian Nights vein: "The Caliph Stork," about a Caliph and his Grand Vizier (who is a good guy, for once) who are turned into storks through a scheme of the wicked magician Raschnur; "The Ghost Ship," about a pious Muslim merchant who finds himself on a ghost ship and has to free the ship, its ghosts, and himself from the curse upon it; "The Dwarf and the Goose," about a twelve-year-old who makes the mistake of sassing a witch and is turned into a dwarf for his troubles; "The Red Cloak," about a Greek doctor who gets involved in some nasty business in Paris and loses his hand for his troubles; "The Rescue of Fatima," about a man going to great lengths to rescue his sister and his betrothed from slavery; and "The Tailor and the Prince," about a cocky young tailor who learns to accept his lot in life."

Orbasan figures into "The Red Cloak" (it was he who was responsible for the doctor losing his hand) and "The Rescue of Fatima" (he is mostly responsible for the rescue of Fatima and Zoraide, the beloved of Mustapha) and is revealed to be the stranger who joined the caravan at the beginning of The Almanac. Orbasan is alternatively "the Terrible" and "the Lord of the Desert." He is the leader of a large and well-disciplined group of robbers who patrol the desert, scaring off other bands of robbers and shaking down caravans for protection money. (This is, in the world of The Almanac, an honorable act for a robber). He's actually an Egyptian Copt who fought the French alongside the Mamelukes at the battle of the pyramids and then took to the life of a bandit chief. Orbasan is, of course, a doughty fighter, and he's an honorable sort as well; he goes a long way to repay the Greek doctor for his troubles and similarly makes up for mistakenly kidnaping Mustapha in "The Rescue of Fatima."

rdie, Captain. Captain Ordie was created by Mrs. Henry Wood and appeared in “A Mysterious Visitor” (1857). Mrs. Henry Wood, née Ellen Price (1814-1887), was the creator of Johnny Ludlow, and I cover her there. “A Mysterious Visitor” was, I’m certain, popular enough in its day, but to modern readers it is going to seem a cliche padded out beyond its length. On the night of 11 May 1857–the very night of the rebellion in India–Mrs. Louisa Ordie is at home caring for her sick child. The baby is somewhat feverish, but Louisa is a hysterical sort who has already lost one child, in India, and who does not want to lose her other child. Captain Ordie and Louisa’s sister and brother-in-law are in India, and Louisa is alone save for the servants and neighbors. Louisa acts shrill and unpleasant toward the nurse and the other servants and is keeping herself up all night, watching her baby, when she hears footsteps on the gravel path outside the house. She wonders who it is and then recognizes her husband’s footsteps. She, surprised, goes out to greet him. He looks at her and then proceeds into the house, but when she goes after him he’s gone. And since the tall gate to the house is locked and he can’t be found, no one believes Louisa (her unpleasant personality may have something to do with that as well) when she says she saw him. It later turns out that at 11:25 India time Captain Ordie was sacrificing himself in fighting the Indians, and that Louisa saw him at 11:25 G.M.T. And so Louisa shrilly insists for the rest of her days that it was her husband’s ghost she saw.

“A Mysterious Visitor” is a fifteen page story padded out to thirty pages, filled with pointless dialogue which reads like Mrs. Wood was being paid by the penny. Louisa is unpleasant, even unbearable, and Captain Ordie’s only appearance is over and done with in a sentence. Mrs. Wood perpetuates the myths of the 1857 Revolt, including that of English women facing the fate worse than death, that we now know not to be true. And the ghostly appearance of the beloved is now such a cliche that even an early appearance like this has to be exceptionally interesting and well-written to retain the reader’s interest–and “A Mysterious Visitor” is neither. There is a hint of something darker; early in the story Louisa declares that she would “rather lose everything I possess in the world, than my baby,” and so Louisa’s sister is murdered in India and her husband dies in combat–but it’s clear that Mrs. Wood did not mean “A Mysterious Visitor” to be one of those “foolishly uttered wish” stories.

Captain Ordie must have had the patience of a saint to stay married with Louisa, not to mention father two children of her. And he bravely fought to save women and children, dying in the process.

ssipov, Mikhail. The creation of the novelist Georges LeFaure (1858-1953) and the physicist Henri de Graffigny (1863-1942), Ossipov appeared in the four-volume Extraordinary Adventures of a Russian Scientist. I've been unable to find any biographical information about LeFaure or de Graffigny.

Mikhail Ossipov, a Russian scientist, guards two things with jealous paranoia: his daughter Selena and the super-explosive he has invented and named after here: selenite. Selenite is extremely powerful; enough of it could blow up the world or send men to the moon. Ossipov has an arch-rival, Fyodor Sharp, and Sharp manages to trump up charges of anarchism against Ossipov. Ossipov is exiled to Siberia and prepares to steal the selenite and Selena herself. Selena's suitor arrives to save the day and his beloved, piloting a steam-powered airplane that he had a friend invent for him.

Sharp, however, is already on his way to the moon; he managed to swindle the American government into backing his attempt to build a space gun. The gun worked, and Sharp is propelled into space. Ossipov follows him, launching his spacecraft from a live volcano. Ossipov, the suitor, and Selena arrive on the moon and catch up to their enemy, but the wily Sharp kidnaps Selena and heads for the inner planets. Ossipov and Selena's boy-toy pursue them, first to Venus, Mercury, and Mars, and then to the outer planets, using ships propelled by light, a comet, and an early form of a ramjet. Ossipov et al use space suits for their trips outside their ships; this was perhaps the first appearance of the space suit in fiction. Along the way they run into Greek-speaking Venusians and flying, winged Martians who live in flying cities and fight wars according to regular schedules.

Naturally, Ossipov rescues Selena, Sharp dies (they throw a planet at him), and everyone returns to Earth and lives happily ever after.

z. Oz, its land and inhabitants, was (of course) the creation of L. Frank Baum (1856-1919), for brief biographical information on whom, see the Rob Joslyn entry. The Baum Oz books--the only true Oz novels--are The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904), Ozma of Oz (1907), Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz (1908), The Road to Oz (1909), The Emerald City of Oz (1910), The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913), Tik-Tok of Oz (1914), The Scarecrow of Oz (1915), Rinkitink in Oz (1916), The Lost Princess of Oz (1917), The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918), The Magic of Oz (1919), and Glinda of Oz (1920).

Obviously, with this many books, I can't--and won't--attempt to summarise characters or plots. Instead, I'll just say this: the thing that most people forget about Oz and its inhabitants--and the reason for this is the movie, nothing more and nothing less--is just how primal the story is. And how creepy. Think about it. The movie, though a beloved standard for generations of children, added a certain gloss to Oz, Dorothy, the Witches, and all the rest, and took away a certain amount of power. I won't say that Oz and everyone in it were archetypes, because they weren't. Not in the Jungian sense or in a culture-specific way. But on a certain level Oz deals with very basic concerns for children. Relations with parents, for one. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are anything but cheerful or encouraging; their life in Kansas has leached the joy from them, and the black-and-white of the Kansas portion of the movie is a good visual shorthand for describing what that section of the book is like. Another basic concern for children is what scares them--what the Bad Thing in the closet is. The movie, for obvious reasons, couldn't invoke terror too much; some children, like me, found the flying monkeys simultaneously neat and horrifying, and in some ways the flying monkeys and Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch duplicate the creeps that the books deliver. But not nearly enough. Things like the giant spider that the Lion has to kill, and the porcelain cow broken by Dorothy, and the Scarecrow's body, which can be seemingly endlessly shredded and resewn...these are frightening things to a child. (At least they were to me).

The Oz books are fairy tales in the best sense; they deal with light and dark, things fantastic and terrifying, in a primal way, but handled quite skillfully.

Oz Encyclopedia
This is an impressively thorough site, with scans, of...well, just about everything one could think of having to do with the Land and Peoples of Oz. This link brings you to the start page--but don't be fooled by the lack of info here. Just click on the links at the bottom of the page and follow them to whatever you are interested in, and you'll quickly see the amount of information here. (To skip ahead, click here to get to the list of characters)

zmar the Mystic. Ozmar was created by Emeric Hulme-Beaman and appeared in Ozmar the Mystic (1896). I’m afraid I’ve been unable to find out anything about Hulme-Beaman, other than that he wrote or cowrote three other books.

Ozmar the Mystic is a fairly standard and ordinary piece of Victorian fantasy about the titular character and the effect he has on the central characters. It’s all rather uninvolving, although the main character, Sir Frederick Roy, isn’t nearly so much of a duffer as he could be. But Hulme-Beaman (in reference sources he’s written as “Hulme Beaman,” but in the book itself it’s “Hulme-Beaman”) brings in “Rivânia,” an imaginary Germanic country in Europe, and does nothing with it, and Prince Loris of Rivânia is all bluster and little else. The book is colorless and mediocre in too many ways for me to spend much time describing it. (There is one moment when Sir Frederick is urged to be vulgar and finally swears: "`Sh--!' I muttered" but that's about the most interesting that the novel gets)

Ozmar is a “mystic.” That is, he is one of the “Initiates of the Higher Grades of Buddhism,” and as such as certain powers above and beyond those of normal humans. He refuses to call them “supernatural, instead using the term “intro-natural,” or “within the scope of natural forces, but beyond their normal manifestation.” When asked if he has great power, he is "I have no control whatever over the winds of the air or the tides of the sea...though some of the secrets of the unseen world may be in a measure known to me."

He is being modest, however, for his range of powers is quite significant. He is variously capable of:

Ozmar is described this way by the author:
The lofty breadth of forehead, calm and unwrinkled, surmounting a face of singular dignity and power; the eyes set wide apart and of an almond shape, dark and lustrous beneath their half-closed lids, lending an air of contemplative repose to the general expression,--yet, on occasion, lighting up with a flash that showed the fire of the soul within; the nose, broad and aquiline, indicating strength of purpose; the firm mouth hidden beneath the dark mustache, the crisp and well-trimmed beard cut to a point; the shapely head, covered with wavy brown hair, poised firmly on the shoulders—all these went to make up an effect at once pleasing to the eye and impressive to the imagination of the beholder. Yet it was not these, or any one of these, that arrested the immediate attention of the most casual observer. It was the air of command that seemed inalienably associated with Ozmar’s presence.
And so on in this vein for a while.

Ozmar’s background is not delved into in any detail by Hulme-Beaman. Prince Loris refers to Ozmar as a “Count,” but never specifies which country, and Ozmar, while accepting the title as his due, refuses to allow Sir Frederick to call him that. It’s clear, in the text, that whatever title is his, and whatever noble lineage he is heir to, he has put that part of his life behind him ("It is a title I never use"). Similarly, in the confrontation between the Bedouin and Ozmar, he speaks of having “dwelt in the desert" and shows a fluency in Arabic. He is a medical doctor, and a decade before, in Gibraltar, was penniless but was helped out by Sir Frederick's father. He is, as mentioned, an Initiate, and one of only four at his level in the entire world. More information about his past, however, is not forthcoming, and Ozmar remains mysterious. (Perhaps a wise move on Hulme-Beaman’s part, as it keeps him more intriguing to us)


Introduction
A. Abällino to Axel
B. Hajji Baba to Amelia Butterworth
C. Cahina to Inspector John Cutting
D. The Damned Thing to Dyson
E. Robert Easterley to Pedro Arbuez d'Espila
F. Fantomas to the Fulgurator
G. "G" to Dr. Ginochio Gyves
H. Les Habits Noir to the Hypnotist
I-J. Ichor to Rob Joslyn
K. Kai Lung to Kreuzgang.
L. Lady Detectives to Arsène Lupin
M. Madame Koluchy to Dora Myrl
N. Nameless Child to Alice Nutter
O. Jack O'Halloran to Ozmar the Mystic
P. Pan to Psammead
Q. Dr. Jack Quartz to Quong Lung
R. A.J. Raffles to Lord Ruthven
S. Mr. Sabin to Count Szémioth
T-U. Adrian Temple to Undine
V. Vaila to Vril
W. Hilda Wade to Wung-Ti
Y. Yákoff to Yuki-onna
Z. Zaleski to Zoe
Links

E-mail Me.