emple, Adrian. Adrian Temple was created by J. Meade Falkner and appeared in The Lost Stradivarius (1895). Falkner (1858-1932) was an antiquarian by trade, an authority on medieval ritual and paleography. He’s today remembered for his adventure novel Moonfleet (1898) and for The Lost Stradivarius, which a number of critics see as one of the classic 19th century ghost stories. I, unfortunately, found it quite ordinary, though not entirely without interest.
The Lost Stradivarius is about John Maltravers, a student at Oxford. He is a lover of music and best friends with William Gaskell, and one night John finds an old book of Italian music in Gaskell’s room. John is taken with one of the suites, “l’Areopagita,” and begins playing it on his violin. When he plays the Gagliarda, he hears noises coming from a wicker chair in the room, as if someone is sitting in the chair. But John is alone in the room, and when he stops playing the sound stops. However, the next night, when John plays the Gagliarda with Gaskell, hears the sounds again, as does Gaskell. They initially ascribe it to an affinity of vibration between the wicker and the violin, although both feel that something was sitting in the wicker chair listening to them play. This continues throughout the semester, but toward the end of the semester Gaskell has a vision of a fete in an old-fashioned Italian hall, and of an Englishman to whom something awful is about to happen. That spring John meets Constance Temple, the daughter of a distant cousin, and the pair are immediately attracted to each other. Back at Oxford John plays the Gagliarda by himself one morning, and when he does he sees a man sitting in the wicker chair. The man is older than John, dressed in a fashion of a bygone day and clean shaven but with a displeasing expression and a generally “malign and wicked” air about him. But the man keeps his eyes cast down, so that John cannot see them, and walks into a wall and disappears after a few seconds, alarming John considerably. John tells Gaskell about his vision, and Gaskell tells him that he saw a ghost, someone particularly attached to the Gagliarda. John is, naturally, not particularly pleased to hear this, but the man does not reappear. Over the summer John meets up with Constance again and they grow closer, with an engagement expected by both families. That fall the man does not reappear, but both Gaskell and John hear what seems to be an echo when they play the Gagliarda.
Then John finds a cabinet in the wall, in the same place that the ghost walked into, and in the cabinet is an old violin. The violin is in fine condition, and there is evidence that it was made by Stradivarius himself. John consults an expert, who is shocked at the find: it’s a Stradivarius, made at the height of the master’s powers, and in better condition than the expert has ever seen. The expert holds on to the violin, to have other experts look at it and to have it restrung. But even without the violin, John begins to change, lying to everyone about his find–he tells them he bought it–and becoming obsessed with playing the Gagliarda. Over Christmas vacation John and his sister visit the Temples at there mansion, and the changes in John become evident to his sister; he seems more distracted and disinterested in those around him, and she wonders if he loves Constance as much as he used to. Then one night, during a thunderstorm, John faints and takes sick with brain fever. John’s sister Sophy and Constance discover that John was looking at a portrait of Adrian Temple, Constance’s wicked ancestor, when he fainted; Temple looks exactly like the man who John saw sitting on the wicker chair. John eventually recovers and returns to Oxford. He gets the Stradivarius back but continues to lie about it to everyone. He plays the “Areopagita” constantly, even obsessively, and he and Gaskell part on strained terms. John marries Constance but after only a few months, when they’ve been traveling in Italy, their marriage is in trouble, for he seems to care only about the violin and playing the “Areopagita,” over and over, almost like a machine. They return home for the holidays, but he is greatly altered and quite withdrawn from everyone, including his wife. He returns to Italy, leaving a pregnant Constance behind. She gives birth to their son and then dies of brain fever. Sophy receives word that John is ill in Italy and goes to visit him, and he tells her all about his past and Adrian Temple’s past, and shows her his discovery, the hall in which Temple was murdered. They return to England, where John continues to decline and then dies. The last part of the story is a note from Gaskell, explaining things from his perspective and telling the story of Adrian Temple.
What struck me about The Lost Stradivarius is how old-fashioned it is. It’s deliberately written in the thicker and slower-reading mid-century style of a Bulwer-Lytton–see, for example, his “The Haunted and the Haunters” (the Mr. Richards entry) or a Rosa Mulholland (see the Lewis Hurly entry). Many of the horror stories of the 1890s were written in the lighter, brisker, more dialogue-heavy style which was popular in that decade and the one following (see, for example, the John Charrington entry), but Falkner, antiquarian that he was, seemingly deliberately went in the face of contemporary style and wrote a throwback story.
That’s not why I found the story ordinary, although it does count as a strike against it. What left me particularly unimpressed was the first half of the novel, which has a marked lack of narrative momentum and is narrated rather than recounted, so that we’re told what happened rather than shown what happened. These, along with wooden, third-person descriptions of the kind of horror John is feeling rather than what is making him feel the horror, an overdone and unsubtle approach to the horror itself, and hints of upcoming badness which don’t build suspense but rather belabor what we know will happen, leave the reader underwhelmed. The second half of the story, which is more told in the present rather than in the past, does pick up some speed, but not enough to redeem the novel. Falkner does make some good use of his antiquarian learning, but there’s only a very little of it, and it is less interesting here than a better use of same in “The Botathen Ghost” (see the Dorothy Dinglet entry). I wish I could agree with critics like Jessica Salmonson about The Lost Stradivarius, but they were far more impressed with it than I was, and I can’t recommend it.
Adrian Temple was a good violinist. That’s about all that can be said for him, however. He was a wicked man of debauched tendencies, and he did something in Italy so horrible–we never find out what (and that’s another flaw in the novel; Falkner’s sensibilities were apparently so refined that he could only hint in the vaguest terms about Temple’s wickedness and could never let on what Temple did that was so horrible)–that it turned even his closest comrade-in-evil to the side of good. He may have attempted, in one of his rituals, to summon up “the Malefic Vision,” “the presentation of absolute Evil,” but that’s only a supposition.
emple, Gregory. Gregory Temple was created by Paul Féval and appeared in Jean Diable (John the Devil, 1862) as part of the Les Habits Noir sequence. Féval (1817-1887) was the most successful of the French serial novelists, at least on par with Dumas, Ponson du Terrail, and Eugene Sue. Féval wrote widely and his work, if still translated into English (as with Dumas), would likely still be popular. Gregory Temple is a senior Inspector with Scotland Yard, and is an intellectual detective in the Dupin tradition and a precursor to the armchair detectives, placing an emphasis on deduction over action. He is in fact a "grand theoretician" of detection, having written a purportedly infallible book on the detection of criminals and crime; supposedly his "detective machine" book is capable of predicting who will commit what crime.
hing in the Upper Berth. The Thing in the Upper Berth was created by F. Marion Crawford and appeared in “The Upper Berth” (The Broken Shaft: Unwin’s Christmas Annual, 1886). Francis Marion Crawford (1854-1909) was the son of American parents, but was born and mostly raised in Italy and lived there for most of his adult life. He was a popular novelist who is mostly forgotten today; when he is remembered it’s for his supernatural and ghost stories, which he turned out for quick cash. “The Upper Berth” is well remembered among horror story afficionados, and for good reason; it is very well written and only barely misses being in the 19th Century Horror Hall Of Fame.
Brisbane is one of the genteel rich, someone who thinks “no more of crossing the Atlantic than taking a whisky cocktail at downtown Delmonico’s.” And so he does not hesitate to book a passage on the Kamtschatka, one of his favorite ships. But he has booked room 105 on the Kamtschatka, something which causes the steward to look at him quite askance and with alarm. The steward won’t say why, but he acts nonplused at the very notion of someone being in that room. On the first night of the voyage he shares the room with another man, but something causes the man to flee the room in the middle of the night. Brisbane awakens again, while it is still dark, and the room feels cold and smells of the sea, and he can hear his roommate tossing and turning and occasionally groaning. Brisbane wakes near dawn and finds that the room is quite cold and that his roommate has left the porthole open. He closes it and then makes his way on deck. He meets the ship’s doctor and tells him where he is staying, which the doctor reacts negatively to, much as the steward had. The doctor even offers one of the berths in his room to Brisbane, who declines. Even the captain meets with Brisbane. The captain informs Brisbane that three other men who’ve stayed in that berth has thrown themselves overboard, and asks that Brisbane accept another room elsewhere. Brisbane declines, wanting to have a room to himself.
That evening the same thing happens. Despite his having made turned the bolts on the porthole before going to sleep, Brisbane finds that the porthole is open when he wakes up, in the night, and the room is damp and smells of the sea. He also hears something in the upper berth and tries to find out what it is–and discovers that it is a thing, a “clammy, oozy mass” which attacks Brisbane when he touches it. It flees down the corridor and then disappears. But the bed it was in is dry, though it smells of the sea. The next morning Brisbane meets with the doctor, who tells him that it’s a ghost, something Brisbane is somewhat contemptuous of, though he well remembers the eldritch feeling he had during the night. The captain volunteers to spend the night with Brisbane, to see just what is happening. With a ship’s carpenter Brisbane and the captain go over the room and make sure there is no way someone could be sneaking into the room. They sit up and wait, and that night, as they watch, the screws on the porthole unfasten themselves. Then the lights go out, and when Brisbane reaches into the upper berth the thing is there, and attacks him and the captain, overpowering them both and then fleeing from the room and disappearing. Brisbane doesn’t return to the room, after the voyage is over the captain moves on to another ship, and the door to 105 is thereafter sealed and not made available to anyone.
“The Upper Berth” is excellent stuff, technically sound, told in the conversational and very clean style of many of the better end of the century writers. There’s none of the flowery, ponderous, or histrionic rhetoric that so dates many of the earlier Victorian horror stories; there’s just the set-up, the first-person narration, and some quite creepy moments–waking up in the middle of the night, with a -thing- in the upper bunk, is something many children have suffered through, and having it occur as an adult is a nightmare in waiting for most people. What keeps the story from being immortal is the lack of ambiguity about the ghost. There’s plenty of ambiguity about why it’s there, of course, but unlike The Horla and The Great God Pan we see the ghost, we know what it looks like and how it feels, and though it’s plenty disturbing enough the very fact of its appearance makes it less disturbing than something like the Horla. But the very fact that I’m comparing “The Upper Berth” to de Maupassant and Machen should indicate how much I think of “The Upper Berth;” my cavils are praising with faint damns, really.
The Thing in the Upper Berth is a kind of ghost, from whence no one really knows. Before Brisbane saw it three others did, all of whom threw themselves overboard (one, disquietingly, through the small porthole itself). Why it haunts room 105 on the Kamtschatka, none can say. It’s not a friendly ghost; the first time Brisbane touches it, it pushes him aside, and the second time, it wrestles with him. But it’s not malignant, either, for after it overpowers Brisbane and the captain it does not kill either, but repeats its ritual of rushing out of the room into the corridor and vanishing. It is “like the body of a man long drowned, and yet it moved, and had the strength of ten men living...the slippery, oozy, horrible thing–the dead white eyes seemed to stare at me out of the dusk; the putrid odour of rank sea-water was about it, and its shiny hair hung in foul wet curls over its dead face.”
hrawn Janet. Thrawn Janet was created by Robert Louis Stevenson and appeared in "Thrawn Janet" (Cornhill Magazine, October 1881). Stevenson you should know about, unless of course you're a complete illiterate, in which case what are you doing reading this site? "Thrawn Janet" is...well, an analysis of the story needs to look at two things: the content and the style. The style is late Victorian dialect, a nearly impenetrable Scotch brogue ("thrawn" is "Twisted, crooked, bent from the straight; mis-shapen, drawn awry, distorted") which fit with the expectations of the 19th century reading audience but which is enormously off-putting today. (Let me be clear about this: the only way I could have hated the brogue in "Thrawn Janet" more is if I had to listen to the story being read to me by a drunken Glaswegian in Curlers). It takes an effort to make it through this story, which is a real shame, because the content of the story is outstandingly creepy. There's a reason that "Thrawn Janet" is seen as one of RLS's best short stories, and it has nothing to do with that God-awful brogue. "Thrawn Janet" is actually Janet M'Clour, an "auld limmer" ("A light woman; a strumpet; in weaker sense: A jade, hussy, minx.") who marries the Reverend Murdoch Soulis. The locals distrust Janet, however, thinking that she's a witch, and they finally throw her in "the water o'Dule, to see if she were a witch or no, soum or droun." The Reverend rescues her, but makes her swear to renounce the devil and all his works. Janet does this with reluctance, and the next day she appears "wi' her neck thrawn, and her heid on ae side, like a body that has been hangit, and a girn on her face like an unstreakit corp." After that, things get a bit creepy, with Janet being Quite Wrong, and a black man appears on Black Hill (a helpful footnote points out that "it was common belief in Scotland that the devil appeared as a black man"). One night, during a terrible heat wave, the Reverend hears something awful in his house and goes looking for its cause and finds "Janet hingin' frae a nail beside the auld aik cabinet; her heid aye lay on her shoother, her een were steeked, the tongue projekit frae her mouth, and her heels were twa feet clear abune the floor...by what cantrip it wad ill-beseem a man to judge, she hingin' frae a single nail an' by a single wursted thred for darnin' hose." The Reverend, sufficiently creeped out, bolts from the house, only to be pursued (in a slow, inescapable horror-movie doom kind of way) by Janet. The Reverend says, "Witch, beldame, devil! I charge you, by the power of God, begone--if you be dead, to the grave--if you be damned, to hell!" In response the hand of God descends from the Heavens and destroys Janet, leaving the Reverend an understandably shaken man.
hree Musketeers. The Three Musketeers were created by Alexandre Dumas, père, and appeared in the Mousquetaires trilogy, Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers, 1844), Vingt Ans Après (Twenty Years After, 1845), and Le Vicomte de Bragelonne (The Vicomte of Bragelonne, 1848). Dumas père (1802-1870), well, he was a giant of French letters, not well respected by critics either in his lifetime or after but the creator of nearly three hundred books and plays as well as swashbucklers like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo which are still read and enjoyed today. (The protagonist of the latter will, naturally, make it on to these pages sooner or later).
The Three Musketeers is one of those classics which everyone knows about, if not because of having read it than because they've seen it in movie theatres or on tv. And, indeed, there've been some good film versions of the book, with the 1973 edition (Richard Lester dir., George MacDonald Fraser script, all-star cast playing the principles, including Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan, Faye Dunaway, and Charlton Heston) being the best of the bunch (and a personal favorite). Most of us first read the book as teenagers and loved it, but (admit it) have not read it as adults, and so have hazy memories of a book we loved years ago but can't recall in detail.
So reading it as an adult is (for people like me who haven't read it in 15 years) an interesting experience. You read it wondering if your expectations will be met and your memories proved true, or whether you will be disillusioned. In the case of The Three Musketeers, for the most part your memories are accurate. The book is not without its faults (mostly stylistic), but on the whole The Three Musketeers is cracking good fun.
Thanks to the many films, most people will be familiar with the plot of The Three Musketeers: during the reign of Louis XIII a young Gascon, D’Artagnan, travels to Paris in the hopes of becoming a musketeer. He meets and befriends three of the most prominent musketeers: “Aramis,” “Porthos,” and “Athos.” (What many people don’t realize is that those are not the musketeers’ real names, and that each one has good reasons for concealing their true identities). D’Artagnan finds himself enmeshed in schemes in support of the Queen’s love affair with the English Duke of Buckingham and in opposition to the plots of Cardinal Richelieu. D’Artagnan finds love with the Madame Bonacieux, the sweet wife of his landlord. D’Artagnan finds an enemy in the venomous but beautiful Milady. D’Artagnan and the other Musketeers travel across France, fighting the agents of the Cardinal as well as the English at the siege of La Rochelle. The four men find love, riches, and sorrow before finally separating, with D’Artagnan gaining high rank in the musketeers.
The novel isn’t perfect. It’s old; it was written over 150 years ago, and this is reflected in the prose style, which is dated, being a bit staid, stodgy, and somewhat prolix. Dumas takes the occasional plot detour, or spends too long on a particular subplot or conversation. And (again, this is a product of the novel’s age as much as anything else) there is little concern with the interior life of the characters. Action rather than emotion is Dumas’ concern.
On that level, however, The Three Musketeers succeeds magnificently. It’s a grand spectacle of duels, swordfights, hellbent rides across the French countryside, resplendent musketeers, court politics, and love affairs. Dumas vividly creates a world of casual love affairs and even more casual duels, a world in which manners are supremely important and honor worth fighting for. It’s the world familiar to readers from a hundred movies, but done with high spirits and good humor. The lives of the musketeers show elements of the picaresque, which adds to the spirit of the novel. Dumas delivers regular doses of action and incident, and with the occasional (regrettable) exception does not linger over events or people of no bearing to the main plot. Unlike Henryk Sienkiewicz (see the Petronius and Yan Skshetuski entries) Dumas does a decent job of providing context for the historical events and personages in The Three Musketeers, so that even those readers with no knowledge of 17th century French history will not feel completely lost.
The four main figures are the Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan. D'Artagnan is the youngest of the quartet, a ferociously proud Gascon and a surprisingly good swordsman. His life's ambition is to be a musketeer, and he's willing to do just about anything to achieve that goal. He's quarrelsome, eager, impetuous, and hot-tempered. He's also not particularly sensitive to women, treating Milady dishonorably and Milady's maid Kitty quite badly. But he's a good sort despite that. Aramis is a priest-wannabe but is too enamored of women in general and one or two women in particular to completely give up the secular life. He's bookish but warm and a good swordsman for all of that. Porthos is quite strong and even more vain. He's load and boastful and a womanizer, although his main female interest is the older wife of a lawyer. Athos, a.k.a. the Comte de la Fere, is the oldest of the group and the one with the most mysterious past. (It involves Milady breaking his heart). He's taciturn, sad (drowning his sorrows in wine), grim, a misogynist (thanks to Milady), austere, and quite aristocratic, being quite able to knowledgeably converse on any subject, from Latin to the proper tactics of war.
If you can put up with the minor stylistic flaws--and an updated translation of The Three Musketeers would be quite welcome, indeed, as it would likely remove those flaws--you'll be well rewarded by rereading The Three Musketeers.
hunder, Madeline, Lady. Lady Thunder was created by Rosa Mulholland and appeared in “The Ghost at the Rath” (The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly, 1891). Mulholland was the creator of Coll Dhu and Lewis Hurly, and I have information on her at the latter entry. “The Ghost at the Rath” is one of the best haunted house stories of the 19th century, and is the best of the three Mulholland stories I’ve yet read. Captain John Thunder receives word that a relative has died and that he has inherited substantial properties in Ireland. He goes there to inspect them and looks up his old friend Frank O’Brien, who has fallen on old times and is poor and ill and unable to marry his beloved. Thunder tells Frank that he should get a change of scenery and go look at the Rath, an old house and park which are now part of Thunder’s estates. Frank goes, but three weeks go by and Thunder still has heard nothing from him, so Thunder goes down to the Rath to see whassup. Thunder doesn’t like what he sees–*really* doesn’t like it. He encounters Frank before he sees the house, but Frank is, despite good health, quite vacant, unaware of how much time has passed, unconcerned about Thunder or his lover, and “so comfortable that he had forgotten everything else.” Frank talks about how wonderful the house was, how the birds sang to him, how the house knew him and belonged to him. Thunder isn’t sure whether Frank has gone mad but accompanies him to dinner at the house, which is not at all pleasant. It is a fine-looking house from the outside, but the gardens are wildly overgrown and the interior of the house is dusty, sullen, and quite, quite oppressive. Frank chatters on about the wonderful dreams he has, but Thunder is nonplused by the Rath. That night he has a very hard time sleeping, feeling uncomfortable in the room (“there was a something antagonistic to sleep in every angle of its many crooked corners”) and hearing all sorts of noises, from “tremendous tantarararas” on the door to dishes clashing to voices calling. Then a “powdered servant in an elaborate livery of antique pattern” enters the room and tells Thunder that “Her ladyship, my mistress, desires your presence.” Thunder follows him and finds a party in full swing. He sees one woman enter; she is dazzling, but with her comes “a faintness in the air, as if her breath had poisoned it.” Then Thunder sees a middle-aged man and a young girl enter the party, and he is compelled to follow them. No one at the party sees Thunder or acknowledges his words, and the party-goers walk through Thunder’s body as if he were mist. Frank is at the party, but he is sound asleep. Thunder sees the young girl weeping, but no one pays attention to her except the older, beautiful woman, who glances at her with contempt. The older woman dances with the middle-aged man, and they make a great pair. Then Thunder sees the young girl looking at him, and when she gestures at him he follows her into another room, where there is a cradle wrapped around with white curtains. She looks with joy on the cradle, but when she strips back the coverlet “there went a rushing moan all round the weird room, that seemed like a gust of wind forcing in through the crannies.” The cradle is empty, and the girl looks horrified and runs. Thunder follows her to another room and sees the older woman comforting the girl and then give her something to drink; when she does this Thunder sees “the jewelled eyes of the serpent looked out from her bending head.” The girl drinks it and then cries out “Poisoned!” and flees. Thunder tries to hit the murderess, but she is unhurt. Thunder runs after the girl and sees her stagger and fall into the river.
When he wakes up he finds that the house is normal, and that the party regalia and finery are gone. Thunder talks to an old servant who tells him that those who stay in the house often see things, and that Thunder should get Frank out of the house as soon as possible. Thunder goes exploring around the house and then the grounds, and sees what he think sis a woman burying something. But when he goes to the site where he saw her, he finds nothing and decides that it was only a trick of the light. That night Thunder decides to stay in the library that night and not to fall asleep, but he does so anyhow. He is startled awake by a noise in the room above him, and hears steps on the stairs, the rustling of a silk dress on the banister of the stairs, and the step pausing outside the library door. When Thunder opens the door he sees nothing, and he returns to the library and falls asleep. The next day he goes looking for the room above the library but discovers that there is no entrance to it in the house, although its windows are visible from the house’s exterior. Thunder speaks to the old servant who tells him that the room was Lady Thunder’s, and was also her grave, and that nobody had ever asked about the room before except him. The servant explains that Lady Thunder “left her eternal curse on her family if so be they didn’t lave her coffin there,” and that the family sealed the room after her death. Thunder again sees the woman burying something on the grounds of the estate and again can find nothing at the spot. That night Thunder breaks into Lady Thunder’s rooms and finds them decayed and also left as if “the owner of this retreat had been snatched from it without warning, and that whoever had thought proper to build up the doors, had also thought proper to touch nothing that had belonged to her. In the inner room, Lady Thunder’s bedroom, he finds her stone coffin. The atmosphere of the room makes him feel weak and sick, so he drinks some wine he finds in a decanter in the room, and then he is overcome with giddiness and pain and sinks upon the coffin. The feelings pass and he moves into the outer room, which is changed full of new furniture and gilding, lit candles, and the beautiful murderess at the desk. She looks right at him, and he sees “something dark looming behind her chair, but I thought it was only her shadow thrown backward by the firelight.”
She rises to meet him and goes to her writing desk. “The shadow, as she moved, grew more firm and distinct in outline, and followed her like a servant where she went.” Thunder is impelled to move to her left shoulder to see what she writes. “The shadow stood motionless at her other hand. As I became accustomed to the shadow’s presence he grew more visibly loathsome and hideous. He was quite distinct from the lady, and moved independently of her with long ugly limbs. She hesitated about beginning to write, and he made a wild gesture with his arm, which brought her hand quickly to the paper, and her pen began to move at once.” The lady tells Thunder that she is the spirit of Madeline, Lady Thunder, and that “‘I am constrained to make my confession to you, John Thunder, who are the present owner of the estates of your family.’ Here the hand trembled and stopped writing. But the shadow made a threatening gesture, and the hand fluttered on.” Madeline tells John about how she was beautiful, poor, and ambitious and so determined to become the wife of Sir Luke Thunder. Madeline pushed aside Sir Thunder’s daughter Mary and seduced and married Sir Thunder. Madeline hated Mary but thought her powerless, only she went off and eloped, but as time went by Madeline bore Sir Thunder no children while Mary had a son who Sir Thunder eventually took as his heir. Madeline then had the child kidnaped. Mary found out that Madeline was responsible for it and accused her of it, so Madeline gave her poison. Mary rushed from the house and fell in the river, and people thought she had gone mad from grief over her missing child and committed suicide. Sir Thunder died of sorrow, sure that the son was still alive. Before Sir Thunder died he had his will changed to grant everything to the son, so Madeline buried the will and went on to live happily until her miserable death. Madeline tells John Thunder where the true will is buried and shows him what the real heir, the grandchild of Mary Thunder, looks like. Frank falls ill of a fever and his lover Mary comes to see him. Thunder realizes that Mary is the true heir to the estates, and once Frank is well John Thunder gets the Rath signed over to Mary and Frank.
I said “The Ghost at the Rath” is one of the best haunted house stories of the 19th century, and I meant just that. The plot is nicely twisty, so that we have no idea why the events are taking place until Madeline pens her confession. The resolution is fitting and only mildly sentimental; Madeline was evil in life and suffered after her death, but she gets a chance to confess and atone, and Mary and Frank get the Rath, as they deserve. Mulholland does some efficient character bits. But the best aspect of the story is the wonderful atmospherics Mulholland creates, the large amounts of splendid detail about the visual and tactile aspects of the haunted Rath. The sunlight turned to the color of blood through the windows of the house, the ill feelings which sweep across Thunder’s body at various points, the oppressive, sick air of the house–“The Ghost at the Rath” is marvelous at leaving precise, effective, and creepy tactile impressions in the readers mind. Between those and the excellent use of various ghost and haunted house motifs, from the frightening noises heard in the night to the ghost writing her confession for the living to see to the room only visible from the outside of the house, “The Ghost at the Rath” is outstanding.
Madeline, Lady Thunder, was pretty nasty in life, you betcha. A seductress, child kidnaper, and poisoner–and those are only the crimes she confessed to. But she was suitably punished after death, and finally freed after her confession to John Thunder. In this case, confession is quite literally good for the soul.
hwaite, Mrs. Mrs. Thwaite was created by Dinah Mulock and appeared in "The Last House on C---- Street" (Fraser's Magazine, August 1856). Dinah Mulock, later Mrs. George Lillie Craik (1826-1887), was one of the more successful and popular female writers of the Victorian age, and an even more interesting person. (See Sally Mitchell's neat Dinah Mulock Craik for more). "The Last House on C---- Street" is told by Mrs. MacArthur to the narrator, who is a much younger woman. Mrs. MacArthur tells a story of her youth, when she was Dorothy Thwaite and was in love with Mr. Everest. The pair, with Mrs. MacArthur's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thwaite, were visiting London. Mrs. Thwaite is about to give birth and so wants to return to Bath, but Mr. Everest wants to stay with Dorothy to see Hamlet, and Mr. Everest persuades Dorothy and Mr. Thwaite to stay while Mrs. Thwaite returns to Bath alone. Mrs. Thwaite agrees to this, somewhat reluctantly, and tells her husband, "I suppose this is my last walk in London. Thank you for all the care you have taken of me. And when I am gone home--mind, oh mind, Edmond, that you take special care of Dorothy." Dorothy, Mr. Thwaite, and Mr. Everest have a good time in London, but that night something taps on Dorothy's window, just the way that Mrs. Thwaite used to do, and Mr. Thwaite has a vision in which Mrs. Thwaite comes into his bedroom with a candle in her hand and a baby asleep on her arm. This vision convinces Mr. Thwaite that something is amiss at home, but Mr. Everest again persuades him not to depart immediately. He's in love with Dorothy and wants to spend time with her, and Dorothy, to her late regret, agrees. And then, of course, they discover that Mrs. Thwaite died in childbirth at the same moment that her ghost visited them.
"The Last House on C---- Street" isn't a scary ghost story. It's a sad one, a story an old woman tells of decades-gone-by regret and loss. This element of sadness is what makes the story really stand out for me. Perhaps I'm overly sentimental, but the sorrow in the story got to me much more than the "horror" in many another horror stories. The story's introduction is told in a slightly outdated rhetorical form, but once Mrs. MacArthur begins narrating the story feels almost contemporary, and has very nice characterization. "The Last House on C---- Street" isn't frightening. It's just sad, which is good.
hyrle, Guy. Guy Thyrle was introduced in "The Ghost of Guy Thyrle," which appeared in the March 21, 1895 edition of Peter Fenelon Collier's Once-a-Week Semi-Monthly Library and then later that same year as an eponymous book. The story was written by Edgar Fawcett (1847-1904), who wrote widely, producing both science fiction and realist novels. "The Ghost of Guy Thyrle" is, among other things, a ghost story; although most of the tale is about the eponymous ghost, it also has Fawcett's manifesto about how fantastic stories should be written. The ghost in question is Guy Thyrle, who narrates the story from the English estate of Gowerleigh. It seems that Guy Thyrle had been experimenting with astral projection and the separation of the soul from the body, and had created a drug that allowed him to do this at will; whenever he took the nameless drug he moved through the world, able to see and hear others but invisible to them, and able to move around at will. Thyrle visits St. Petersburg and sees the czar, who is portrayed as a monster; Thyrle goes to various other capitals and sees Emperor Franz Josef, the Kaiser, and Prince Bismarck. After moving through the Earth and going to the bottom of the oceans he goes to the moon, which contains the remains of a previous civilization, including an enormous vault with the preserved corpses of "almost angelically superior" beings. Thyrle, in his astral form, can read the inscriptions in the vault, which reveal that the race had known that the moon was losing its atmosphere and so had committed mass suicide.
Thyrle unfortunately discovers at that moment that his "friend" has destroyed his body back on Earth, despite Thyrle having told him not to (when Thyrle's astral form leaves his body he looks dead). Thyrle's fiancee does not mourn him and agrees to marry his friend. Thyrle, powerless to do anything about this, continues on through the universe, visiting various planets around other stars and seeing other races, including dwarves, intelligent lizards, and giant humanoids, as well as various dead planets. Despite his lengthy search, however, he finds no evidence of God or supernatural forces. He attempts to "know the unknowable" and puts forth his will to do so, but is stricken blind as punishment for his hubris. Ghostly voices tell him that he is unique in the universe as a disembodied soul who has not died, and that to move on to the next stage of life he must die, which he can achieve by occupying a dying body just after its previous soul has left it. Guy returns to Earth and manifests himself to his fiancee and his false friend. She drops dead, and the "friend" commits suicide. Thyrle's ghost is telling this story to the new owner of Gowerleigh, which Thyrle has been haunting. The new owner obligingly shoots himself, thus allowing Thyrle to occupy the body and die the true death.
ime Traveller. The Time Traveller was created by H.G. Wells and appeared in The Time Machine (serialized January-May 1895 in New Review, published in May as The Time Machine). Wells is an obscure writer about whom I've been able to find little. The Time Machine is a neat little classic, Wells' first great novel and still a major work in the sf canon.
The Time Machine is about the Time Traveller (his name is never given, although he may be related to Dr. Nebogipfel) a scientist who invents a machine for travelling through time. His friends doubt him as well as his theory that time travel itself is possible, but he ignores them and goes ahead with his planned trip. he travels ahead in time, to the year 802,701, and finds it inhabited by two species, both descendans of homo sapiens. The first is the Eloi, a race of innocent naïfs, childlike in appearance, personality, and intellectual capabilities. The Eloi live above ground, are frugivorous and fear the dark. The second species are the Morlocks, who are subterranean, appear to be degenerate apes, and are cruel. They are cannibals, feeding on the Eloi, but the Morlocks also operate the machinery which makes the Eloi's clothing and shoes. The Traveller stays with the Eloi for eight days, during which time he saves the life of Weena, one of the Eloi, who becomes very devoted to him. Unfortunately, the seventh night is the dark of the moon. The Morlocks, who are sensitive to the light and avoid venturing above ground during the day and while the moon shines, attack the Eloi and the Traveller, and Weena is taken by them. The Traveller sadly goes forward in time after recovering the Time Machine (it had been taken by the Morlocks, but after he kills several they return it to him). The Traveller goes to a time many tens of thousands of years in the future, when all human life is gone and only creepy huge crab things remain. Then the Traveller leaps forward 30 million years, to a Earth on which life has almost completely died out. Sick with what he has seen, the Time Traveller returns home, tells his friends his story (they disbelieve him, but he has flowers which Weena gave him to prove what he says), then packs for a longer expedition and leaves. The story ends with the Traveller having been gone for three years.
As with all of Wells' best work, The Time Machine is a combination of great entertainment, interesting ideas, and ideology. As entertainment the novel works well, and if the Traveller's relationship with Weena is hardly the love story later movie versions of the book have made it, the novel has enough other interesting and enjoyable moments. Wells' ideas are likewise satisfying. Although they are somewhat cliched now, the concepts of travelling through time, of future man developing into separate species, and of travelling to the earth's final days are developed simply, clearly, and effectively in this, one of their first fictional renditions. Wells' style--straightforward narration coupled with apt description--grounds the novel well, so that the fantastic elements becomes easier to accept. And Wells' ideology, while offensive to the more conservative Victorians who objected to Wells' conclusions, is logical to us, if not agreeable. Wells ignores Judeo-Christian ideas and shows man not as the end result of evolution but as just another point on the evolutionary line. Wells shows an earth which is not just post-homo sapiens (the 802,701 section), but which is post-life itself (30 million C.E.). Wells' essentially entropic message--things fall apart, the center cannot hold, life degenerates--is, like his evolutionary message, logical if not pleasant to our vanity. And Wells adroitly gives examples of three different kinds of time--historic (the absurdly specific date of 802,701), evolutionary (the date with the crab creatures), and astronomic (30 million C.E.)--without being ham-handed about it.
Finally, there are the Eloi and the Morlocks. There are a couple of interesting facts about them which are usually overlooked or not commented upon. The first is that both the Eloi and the Morlocks are smaller than the Traveller himself. While we're conditioned by film and comic book versions of The Time Machine to think of the Morlocks as hulking brutes, the Traveller describes them in this way:
a queer little ape-like figure, its head held down in a peculiar manner...it was a dull white, and had strange large greyish-red eyes; also that there was flaxen hair on its head and down its back. But, as I say, it went too fast for me to see distinctly. I cannot even say whether it ran on all-fours, or only with its forearms held very low.The diminished size of both the Eloi and the Morlocks is another sign of their degeneration, like the Eloi's lack of intellectual capacity and the Morlocks' cannibalism. As for the Eloi, while the usual description of them is "childlike," "animal-like" is perhaps closer to the mark. When Weena almost drowns, this is the description given:
It will give you an idea, therefore, of the strange deficiency in these creatures, when I tell you that none made the slightest attempt to rescue the weakly crying little thing which was drowning before their eyes.That is not the behavior of children or the child-like. That is the behavior of animals--and not all animals, either, since there are a number of examples of drowning animals of various species (including my darling rats) rescuing drowning members of their own species. The Eloi have a very limited vocabulary and attention span, and seem to have no conception of the past or future, living perpetually in the present. Weena is pathetically devoted to the Traveller after he rescues her. These are the traits of animals as well as children, and "animal-like" certainly seems more apt than "child-like" when describing the Eloi.
The Time Traveller himself is a standard Victorian scientist/adventurer, having contributed "seventeen papers on physical optics" to the Philosophical Transactions and killing several of the Morlocks in hand-to-hand combat. But he's also something of a wuss, running around "in a passion of fear" hysterical and in a frenzy when he thinks the Time Machine has disappeared. Bit of a weak reed, that one.
revelyan, Olga. Olga Trevelyan was created by Grant Allen and appeared in Kalee’s Shrine (1879). Grant Allen was the creator of Colonel Clay, and I have information on him there. The formula of badinage mixed with more serious matters which worked so well with Allen’s Lois Cayley stories mixes uneasily here, and a quite promising first two acts are ruined by a disastrous decision, with the end result being an infuriating waste of what might have been a very good novel.
Olga Trevelyan is only an infant in India when she is surreptitiously taken, by her ayah (Hobson-Jobson: “a native lady’s-maid or nurse-maid”), to a Thuggee temple, deep in the jungle. The ayah presents the baby to an ascetic and devotee of Kali (annoyingly spelled “Kalee” throughout the novel) and asks that the baby be accepted as a votary of Kali. The old ascetic wavers, believing that Kali wants victims, not votaries, and that the white baby will serve the gods of the Christians, not Kali, but the ayah is insistent; though Olga’s parents are going to take her to England, if she is marked by Kali, “she will only be theirs during the waking hours of the white daytime; at night, in the black darkness, she will be mine–mine and Kalee’s!” The old ascetic then cuts infant Olga’s head, on the right and the left, so that “the child made over to the great goddess, can never again close her eyes in slumber. All night long she lies with her soul spellbound, but her eyes staring wide open and fixed upon Kalee.” He then hangs a tiny silver image of Kali around Olga’s neck, and the ayah brings baby Olga back to her parents.
We then jump forward a decade and more to Thorborough-on-Sea, a resort on the Eastern coast of England. At the house of Mrs. Hilary Tristam, where “nobody who is anybody ever goes to Thorborough-on-Sea without getting to know,” the grown-up and quite beautiful Olga Trevelyan meets Alan Tennant, a square-jawed Cliff Beefpile-type doctor. Tennant in turn meets the pretty, flighty, flirtatious Norah Bickersteth, Olga’s best friend. Olga and Alan meet Sir Donald Mackinnon, an aging Colonel Blimp-meets-superstitious-Scots-soldier-type who knew Olga’s father in India. A predictable set of events take place: Alan and Olga are attracted to each other; Olga tries to set up Alan with Norah (greater love hath no woman than to set up her best friend with the guy she’s really hot for, and all that); Donald Mackinnon is very suspicious of Olga and connects her with the Thugs (he was responsible for stamping out the last of the cult, including the killing of the old ascetic who marked Olga); Grant Allen explains (via his mouthpiece Alan, who has experience in India) that the Thugs “cut the nerve that moves the erector muscles of the eyelid; and after that, the child could never close its eyes or open them wide, except with a distinct and unpleasant effort,” which is the real explanation of what happened to Olga; a ship wrecks on the shore by Mrs. Tristam’s house, and a sleepwalking Olga, seemingly possessed by Kali, laughs at the sight of the drowning men and women (only Alan notices Olga’s laughter, however, and so her reputation is safe); Olga and Alan pitch woo at each other; Alan risks his life rescuing Norah, who is caught in a boating accident; Alan proposes to Olga, who accepts; the famous mesmerist Mr. Keen (no relation to either Robert Chambers’ Westrel Keen or the radio Mr. Keen, although wouldn’t it be interesting to think so?) appears and entertains Mrs. Tristam’s guests by mesmerising them; despite Alan strictly forbidding Olga to be mesmerized (she’s far too delicate a shrinking flower to have such a strenuous procedure put upon her, etc etc etc) Mr. Keen does so (Alan is off on a boating trip), although with great difficulty, which leads to Olga, seemingly possessed by Kali, twisting her kerchief into a rumal (a Thuggee strangling cord) and moving toward the also-hypnotized Norah, who sits spellbound, as if she is playing out some ritual; when Mr. Keen tries to unhypnotize Olga, he finds it exceedingly difficult, but at least succeeds, and Olga, on coming out of it, is horrified and flees the room. Norah, for her part, talks about having felt, while mesmerized, that she was in India, and some awful black woman was coming toward her to do something terrible. Sir Donald is convinced that Olga is a votary of Kali, although Mr. Keen is dubious. Alan does not return that night from his boating trip, and people fear he is lost.
And the next morning Norah is found strangled, and there is blood on the tiny silver image which the ascetic had hung around Olga’s neck years ago. Sir Donald sends for the police and accuses Olga.
Now, this is a good set-up. But the follow through...oy....
After all this, we’re treated to a fifty-page passage of Alan being stranded overnight on a lonely riverbank when his boat floated away, caught on a muddy bank surrounded by quicksand, and only being rescued after a lengthy, tedious ordeal. He returns and discovers what happened. He coldly and viciously accuses Sir Donald and Mr. Keen of being ultimately responsible for Norah’s murder, because poor sweet Olga is just an impressionable young thing and it was the two of them who put the idea of Kali and Thugs into her mind. Alan discovers that Norah’s not dead, just mostly dead, and he plays Miracle Max and revives her. Alan then operates on Olga’s head and fixes the muscles which control her eyelids so that she can see normally. Alan destroys the silver image of Kali. Alan marries Olga, Sir Donald and Mr. Keen admit they were wrong, and everyone lives happily ever after, hallelujah.
My explanation of events in Kalee’s Shrine has been, I’m sure you’ve noticed, less sober and a bit more sarky than usual. This is not because I’m taking the book less seriously than the others on the site, and not because I’m attempting some sort of MST3K-style mockery of the book. Rather, the tone arises from my frustration with Grant Allen’s utter misuse and waste of the book’s premise. I understand, I suppose, Allen’s intent; he wanted to write a story in which logic and rationality debunk and embarrass superstition. On those grounds he succeeded, to a limited degree. But–and this is a very subjective criticism–he made the wrong choice. His scenes at the temple early in the novel and later, when Olga is apparently possessed by Kali, are effective and had the potential to be genuinely creepy, and the seeming death of Norah at Olga’s hands is, if not shocking, very disconcerting, simply because it’s a hardcore act on Allen’s part–in a novel of genteel persiflage and hip Society figures, the strangling of Norah is quite out of place, and so has some power to surprise. Had Allen followed through with this and not given in to facile, cheap sentiment and lazy rationalism, he could have created a classic of the Weird. As it is, Kalee’s Shrine is simply wasted potential.
It isn’t boring; Allen was too talented a writer to create something really uninteresting. The characterization is efficient, some of the scenes are well described, and as I mentioned the horror scenes, especially the opening in the temple, is nicely fraught with sinister overtones. But the light tone of most of the novel is at odds with the horror aspects, Allen’s approach to India and the Indians is no better than typical Victorian prejudice, and the cop-out with Norah not being thoroughly strangled is nearly on the throw-the-book-across-the-room level of annoyance.
Olga Trevelyan is two people. By day, when she’s awake, and when she’s not mesmerized, she’s rather sweet and innocent. She’s almost timid, but is a good soul and loathes murder and heartbreak, to the point where she won’t eat animal flesh (although she’s not so choosy about fish, who don’t seem to her to feel as much pain as animals do). But by night, when she sleeps, she is possessed by Kali, or only thinks she is, and becomes a much different person, someone devoted to the Black Earth Mother and loving death and misery.
rostler, Dagobert. Trostler was created by “Balduin Groller.” “Groller” is the pseudonym of Adalbert Goldscheider (1848-1916), a Hungarian-born writer and journalist who settled in Vienna and became its most popular feature writer. In 1890 he began writing crime fiction, and decided, seeing the popularity of Sherlock Holmes in Vienna, to create a Viennese version of The Great Detective. He came up with Dagobert Trostler, who first appeared in eighteen stories, collected together in 1909 in six volumes entitled Detektiv Dagoberts Taten und Abenteuer (Detective Dagobert’s Deeds and Adventures). In 1914 he published four novellas in Neue Detektivgeschichten (New Detective Stories). Detektiv Dagobert auf dem Kriegspfad (Detective Dagobert on the Warpath) was written in 1915 but never published.
Trostler is Holmesian, to be sure, but much more human. He’s capable of swearing, of losing his temper, and even of showing fear; he’s far more prey to ordinary emotions than the cold fish Holmes. All of which is not to say that Trostler is an unlikable character—quite the reverse. It’s just that his creator made him to be more human and lively, even gay, than Doyle made Holmes. (Undoubtedly this was due to the difference in tones between late 19th century London and Vienna). Trostler is an independently-wealthy bachelor in his mid-fifties. He has two passions in life: music and mysteries, especially the solving of them. He is so good at the latter that the upper class bourgeois of Viennese society and Austro-Hungarian nobility seek him out for help. Dagobert has no real Watson, although he is good friends with Chief Superintendent Dr. Weinlich; his stories are narrated by an omniscient narrator, rather than filtered through one character’s perceptions. Dagobert, like Holmes, becomes annoyed with the clumsy, stupid, and often bungling police of Vienna, especially Superintendent Dr. Thaddäus, who is meaner and more incompetent than Holmes’ Lestrade. Dagobert, in sum, is still a Holmes copy, but a worthy enough copy.
urpin, Dick. This particular fictional Dick Turpin was created by Harrison Ainsworth and appeared in Rookwood (1834). Ainsworth (1805-1882), who is already in these pages for John Dee, Barbara Lovel, and Alice Nutter, was a novelist and editor, quite popular in his day but almost completely forgotten now.
There was a real Dick Turpin, of course. The fictional one is one of the most famous of all fictional characters, in Britain if not in the United States and the rest of the world. Like many another fictional character, the real Turpin’s exploits were conflated with those of other real people to create a legend. After Turpin’s death he was quickly incorporated into the popular culture of England. He hasn’t left it since, and even today the phrase “Dick Turpin” has meaning in Britain.
The real Dick Turpin lived from 1705 to 1739, and was, variously, a housebreaker, sheep stealer, and highwayman. He was basically a torturing thug, and the romanticizing of his crimes is a sad commentary on humanity's willingness to buy into pretty lies. (There's an essay on Turpin that says it all better than I could) The fictional Turpin, however, was a much more attractive character, being a heroic and honorable rider capable of amazing feats on the back of the wonder horse Black Bess and who teamed up with his friends Tom King, Sixteen-String Jack Rann, Claude Duval, and the Blue Dwarf to fight groups of criminals. Turpin appeared in a variety of penny dreadfuls and dime novels, most famously in Edward Viles' and John Frederick Smith's Black Bess; or the Knight of the Road, which ran for 254 chapters from 1863 to 1868 and was the single longest penny weekly serial ever published.
But Ainsworth’s Rookwood was the beginning of the modern, romantic version of Dick Turpin, and so it’s Rookwood I’ve read rather than Black Bess.
Rookwood is a Gothic, quite deliberately written in that by-then outdated style by Ainsworth in an attempt to recapture the style of earlier Gothic writers like Walpole, Lewis, and Radcliffe. (Ainsworth succeeding in sparking a mini-revival). Rookwood is the story of the disputed Rookwood estates and the efforts of dispossessed heir Alan Rookwood to gain title to the estates and avenge himself on the Rookwood family, as well as the schemes of Lady Rookwood (a quite ferocious Lady Macbeth-like figure) to keep power. Dick Turpin is a part of these schemes, and works for Lady Rookwood for a brief while but then separates; he considers himself a friend of Luke Rookwood, one of those Alan would avenge himself on, and takes pains not to harm Luke, even at the risk of endangering himself. Eventually Dick is chased by a group eager to capture him for the reward, and he makes an astounding overnight ride from London to York, escaping his pursuers but killing his beloved mare Black Bess in doing so.
Rookwood is entertaining, in its way, but Ainsworth’s style has not aged well. There are some memorable scenes and some entertaining characters, Turpin and Barbara Lovel among them, and Turpin’s ride to York (historically done by a man named “Nevins” or “Nevison,” oddly enough) is still absorbing reading, but the book’s many flaws detract from its enjoyment. Ainsworth churns out greats wads of a heavy Victorian rhetorical style, which make even the descriptive scenes slow going. Far too much of the dialogue is stiff, overly verbose, in an outdated “eloquent” style, and explanatory. There’s a great deal of Thieves Cant and “Gipsy” talk, and while it does give the feel of a bygone culture, there’s rather too much of it–too much of any jargon tends to diminish the enjoyment of a novel, at least for me, and the Thieves Cant is essentially jargon. Finally, some readers may not find the romanticization of the highwaymen objectionable, but I do. Ainsworth not only turns the brutal thug Turpin and makes him into a chivalrous knight, but applies this whitewashing to the entire profession of highwayman. Ainsworth does describe Turpin as the last of his kind, compared to the modern, honorless robbers, but Ainsworth’s description of highwaymen, as men of good conscience who do little harm and much good to society, is so at odds with the reality that I very much wanted to shake Ainsworth hard.
The fictional Dick Turpin is very much a “Knight of the Road.” He prides himself on conducting himself like a gentleman at all times, like one of the old-fashioned highwaymen of which he is the last survivor, something he is keenly aware of. (He even speaks highly of Claude Duval). Ainsworth says of Turpin,
With him expired the chivalrous spirit which animated successively the bosoms of so many knights of the road; with him died away that passionate love of enterprise, that high spirit of devotion to the fair sex, which was first breathed upon the highway by the gay, gallant Claude Du-Val, the Bayard of the road–le filou sans peur et sans reproche–but which was extinguished at last by the cord that tied the heroic Turpin to the remorseless tree.Turpin is always polite to those he robs from, especially women, who he always treats quite gallantly. He never steals from women or the poor, and never kills anyone during a robbery. Not being an assassin is something he prides himself on, in fact, and is one of the things which separates him from Lady Rookwood. When he is finally forced to shoot to kill, he accidentally kills Tom King, his boon companion, an act which begins his downfall. Turpin is handsome and debonair, popular with both sexes (though more with the poor than the wealthy, landed, and gentry). (He’s also bald and red-bearded, a combination not normally associated with dashing men). Turpin takes pains to dress well, and spends his money as quickly as he “earns” it. He’s gentle with his friends but can be brutal to his enemies, to the point of shooting one in the face. (But the gun was empty, and the shot was done to frighten rather than kill). He’s quite personable, fearless, and merry, and is something of a danger junkie: “rash daring was the main feature of Turpin’s character.” But under pressure he is quite cool and clever. Rookwood takes place after he and Tom King have been chased from their cave headquarters, and so Turpin, under the alias of “Jack Palmer,” ranges around the south of England, leading a gang and robbing widely. Turpin is a excellent rider and champion racer, and he is aided by the magnificent and near-magical horse Black Bess, who Turpin loves more than anything else in life and who loves him back with an intelligence quite unusual for a horse.
yrrell, Wilfred Wallace. Wallace, along with his rival Captain Leon Flaubert, and Flaubert's submarine Le Vengeur, were introduced in "The Raid of Le Vengeur," by George Griffith, which first appeared in Pearson's Magazine in its February 1901 issue. (For more information on Griffith, see the entry on Natas) An interesting and well-paced story of dueling military scientists, with a love story subplot that is not at all irritating or out of place, "The Raid of Le Vengeur" is set at some undefined point in the late 19th century, when the tension between Britain and France has risen almost to the point of war. Flaubert, a Captain "of the Marine Experimental Department of the French Navy," is trying to figure out some way in which submarines could be made to navigate under water. The logical thing is head-lights, but when they are turned on their lights were reflected on the surface, which pinpointed them and made them easy targets. Flaubert cannot think of any other solution to the puzzle, and he is desperate to solve this problem. Being brilliant, he does, of course:
Electric threads, balanced so as to be the same weight as water--ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred metres long, all round the boat, ahead and astern, to port and to starboard! Steel ships are magnetic, and that is why they must swing to adjust their compasses. The end of each thread shall be a tiny electro-magnet. In-board they will connect with indicators, delicately swung magnetic needles, four of them, ahead, astern, and on each side; and as Le Vengeur--yes, I will call her that, for we have no more forgotten Trafalgar than we have Fashoda--as she approaches the ships of the enemy, deep hidden under the waters, these threads, like the tentacles of the octopus, shall spread towards her prey!In this fashion will Le Vengeur locate its target and launch its torpedoes. Delighted with the thought, Flaubert talks himself to sleep:
Ah, Albion, my enemy, you are already conquered! You are only mistress of the seas until Le Vengeur begins her work. When that is done there will be no more English navy. The soldiers of France will avenge Waterloo on the soil of England, and Leon Flaubert will be the greatest name in the world.Naturally, no French scientist can be allowed to triumph over an English one, much less give the heathen Continentals the opportunity to wipe out Her Royal Majesty's glorious fleet, so Wilfred Wallace Tyrrell comes up with a way to see underwater at the very same time that Flaubert hits on his discovery. Tyrrell invents a "water-ray" that is "some sort of Roëntgen Ray or other;" it projects a ray that "does not diffuse itself," is invisible in daylight and air but perfectly illuminates anything underwater.
So when Le Vengeur makes the mistake of destroying a British warship in front of a British destroyer armed with Tyrrell's water-rays, the evil Frenchie sub is herded into captivity; the evil Flaubert commits suicide, gaining the death any enemy of Britannia and Her Royal Majesty deserves. Long may the Queen rule!
bu. Ubu was created by Alfred Jarry and appeared in three plays: Ubu Roi (King Ubu, 1896), Ubu Enchaine (Ubu Enchanted, 1900), and Ubu Cocu (Ubu Cuckolded, 1900). Jarry (1873-1907) was a French poet and dramatist who is best known for his Ubu plays and his Exploits and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll, Pataphysician (1911); Jarry’s work anticipates the Dadaists and Surrealists and was influential on them. Ubu Roi is a satire about the rise and downfall of a monstrous glutton, Ubu.
Père Ubu is a Captain of Dragoons for the Polish King Venceslas and is relatively content with his life, but he’s also the former King of Aragon, and his wife, Mère Ubu, is not content with being the mere wife of a captain of dragoons. She suggests that he kill King Venceslas and take his place, and Père Ubu, not a little victim to greed and quite weak when it comes to temptation, gives in. Père Ubu meets and conspires with Captain Bordure, who hates Venceslas. Venceslas visits Ubu and promotes him to the Count of Sandomir, but this doesn’t stop Ubu (“your kindness knows no bounds, yes, but, King Venceslas, you won’t be any less slaughtered, you know”), and he plots the assassination with a group of fellow conspirators. The Queen and her son, Bougrelas, try to dissuade the King from holding a Review of the troops, but Venceslas is so sure that Ubu is trustworthy that he says he will appear at the Review unarmed and without a sword. Venceslas does just that, but Ubu betrays his trust and kills the King. Bougrelas and the Queen escape to the mountains in the ensuing melee, but the Queen is in poor health and soon dies. Bougrelas is visited by the spirits of his ancestors and is inspired to keep fighting against Ubu. Now king, Ubu immediately shows his great greed, refusing to share any of the kingdom’s gold with anyone else. Avid to get more, Ubu raises taxes, kills all the noblemen and financiers and takes their property, and begins a general reign of greed and terror. Captain Bordure escapes from imprisonment, goes to Russia and enlists with the Czar Alexis. Ubu, desperate for more money, hears about Bordure’s move to Russia and decides to declare war. Ubu marches off with the truth, and Mère Ubu immediately begins looking for Père Ubu’s hidden gold. But a voice from a tomb scares her away. The war with Russia goes badly, and Ubu is forced to flee to Lithuania and hide in a cave. After an encounter with a bear, which kills Ubu’s companion, Ubu accidentally meets up with Mère Ubu, who was forced to flee from Poland after the Russians marched in. The Russian troops corner the Ubus in the cave, but some of Ubu’s loyalists appear to rescue him, and during the battle the Ubus escape and flee to France.
Ubu Roi was, historically, influential on the Surrealists and Dadaists, who saw in its absurd incongruities and defiance of traditional dramatic verities an anticipation and confirmation of their own theories. In Ubu Roi Jarry also acts as a forerunner to the theories and plays of Artaud, Beckett, and Ionesco and of postmodern experimental theater. Some critics have even seen its influence, and that of Jarry, extending into poetry and painting. Yeats saw the opening night performance of Ubu Roi and was saddened; Stephen Mallarme was thrilled by it.
Ubu Roi is a satire and a farce, and if you put yourself in the right mood you will find it amusing and entertaining. Ubu Roi works better as comedy than satire, though. The comedy is of the over-the-top variety, combining amusing wordplay (which works equally well in French as in English, viz. “merdre” and “shittr”), a Punch-and-Judy approach to violence, and a coarse, broad sense of humor. Your appreciation of Ubu Roi will depend on how funny you find this sort of thing, and how amused you are by the vulgar, profane Pere Ubu, with his constant, nonsensical-but-obscene-sounding curses. You may find his beating Mere Ubu funny, and the way in which he (literally) tears his enemies to pieces or throws a bear’s carcass at them, and how grossly he acts the glutton and coward. It’s like most humor: you either find it amusing, or you don’t, and you can’t really be persuaded to see the other side. In the right frame of mind, you will–you should–find Ubu Roi funny. Jarry might not have intended the audience to laugh at Ubu Roi, but with more than a century removed from its debut, we are able to see the humor in it.
As satire it lacks the immediacy it had when Jarry wrote it. Jarry’s satire, in Ubu Roi, was more apposite at the time of its creation. The play provoked violent condemnation when it first appeared as well as rapturous praise; the bourgeois were greatly offended by it, while the more perceptive critics hailed its satire and compared Jarry with Shakespeare and Rabelais. Jarry meant Ubu to stand as a symbol of everything he hated, of baseness, venality, cupidity, stupidity, and brutality, but Ubu is so cartoonishly extreme in his behavior and his desires–though, oddly, lust is the one sin which Ubu is not prey to in Ubu Roi–that today he will only provoke amusement, rather than ire. He was intended to be a bourgeois Everyman, but the Everyman that today’s readers identify with is a long way from Ubu.
The plot of Ubu Roi is a parody of Macbeth, with the Lady Macbeth-like Mere Ubu pushing Ubu into rebellion. But the parody and satire goes deeper than that. Jarry sends up other Shakespearian elements, including Calpurnia’s dream in Julius Caesar and her warning to Caesar. Jarry also parodies one of the cliches of the historical romances of the time with the deposed Bougrelas seeing his parents die and swearing vengeance on Ubu, and Jarry even satirizes, in the Warsaw Cathedral scene, the Gothic cliche of the haunted cathedral and the mysterious voice emerging from a tomb. Beyond that, Ubu Roi is a parody of traditional plays, with a lack of the customary logic and identifiable characters. The putative hero, Ubu, is a monster, the plot is anecdotal, lacks narrative coherence, and is often so absurd as to be comical.
Ubu himself is practically an embodiment of the Deadly Sins. (Lust excepted, as mentioned). He is fat, gluttonous, vain, angry, obscene, and jealous. He is cowardly at the first sign of danger, but when angered can be ferocious, literally tearing his enemies limb from limb. He is disloyal to his king. He has a love/hate relationship with Mère Ubu. He’s bloodthirsty and greedy. He’s monumentally self-centered and quite amoral: “Isn’t it just as good to have wrong on your side as it is to have right?” And he is given to statements like “With this system I shall soon have made my fortune, then I’ll kill everybody and go away.” He’s the archetype of the modern, soulless bourgeois monster, is Ubu.
ndine. The Undine was created by Friedrich Heinrich Karl, Baron de la Motte Fouqué and appeared in “Undine” (Die Jahreszeiten, 1811). De la Motte Fouqué (1777-1843) was a German soldier and writer who produced a great deal of material, little of which is well regarded today. Although de la Motte Fouqué was prominent among the German Romantics, his fairy tales, such as “Undine,” are what he is known for today, even though he thought little of them at the time. E.T.A. Hoffmann used “Undine” for a libretto in 1816 and then A. Lortzing used it for a libretto in 1845.
“Undine” is seen as a classic of German literature. It is the story of a knight who, traveling through a dark and spooky forest, comes upon a secluded spit of land next to a large lake. Living on the spit are an unnamed fisherman and his wife, who put the knight, Huldbrand of Ringstetten, up for the night. That night, while Huldbrand and the fisherman are talking, they are interrupted by the arrival of a beautiful young woman. She is Undine, their adopted daughter, and although she is mischievous to the point of being spiteful with her adoptive parents, she is quite taken with Huldbrand, and he is smitten with her. Huldbrand stays with the family for a while, long enough to hear their story and for them to hear his. He was a knight errant who ventured into the forest to gain a favor from Bertalda, a noble lady who Huldbrand had flirted with during a tournament. The Undine was found by the fisherman and his wife after their birth daughter disappeared into the lake; the evening of their daughter’s disappearance, a strange young girl appeared on their doorstep. The fisherman and his wife raised her as their own. The love between Undine and Huldbrand continues to blossom, and soon they are married. The morning after their wedding Undine reveals to Huldbrand that she is a water sprite, the daughter of a Prince of the Mediterranean waters, and that the only way that one of the elementals of the Earth, the water spirit undines, the earth spirit cobolds, the air spirit wood folk, and the fire spirit salamanders, can gain a soul is by being united in intimate union with a human. Undine, through her love for and marriage to Huldbrand, has achieved this.
The pair are happy, and Undine is happy to accompany Huldbrand back to the city. But on the way they encounter Undine’s malicious uncle Kühleborn, who dislikes humans generally and Huldbrand particularly and threatens them both. Huldbrand chases him away, however, by trying to slice his head off (which only makes Kühleborn turn into a torrent of water), and the pair continue on to the city. There things get complicated. Huldbrand and Undine meet Bertalda, and for Undine and Bertalda, despite all the reasons not to, get along very well and become dear friends. But Undine, who has discovered that Bertalda was found separated from her parents when very young, tries to do Bertalda a favor and find her real parents. Undine announces, at Bertalda’s birthday feast, that she knows who Bertalda’s real parents were: the fisherman and his wife. Bertalda reacts quite badly to this, but the fisherman and his wife are brought in and are able to prove her parentage. Huldbrand and Undine bring her with them to Huldbrand’s castle in Ringstetten, but Huldbrand falls in love with Bertalda, and she with him, and so Undine becomes miserable. All the workers in and around the castle love Undine and dislike Bertalda, and the fisherman (his wife dies) much prefers Undine to Bertalda, but this doesn’t stop Huldbrand. Undine is unhappy, but nonetheless orders that the fountain of the castle be stopped up, because through that fountain Uncle Kühleborn could appear, and he hates Bertalda and would harm both Huldbrand and Bertalda, which Undine, good person that she is, does not want to allow. She even warns Huldbrand that if he is ever angry with her on or near a piece of water, than her relatives will gain power over her and bring her back to the bottom of the ocean, never to return.
But, of course, that’s what eventually happens; the trio are on a trip down the Danube when he unfairly loses his temper with Undine, and she is taken by the river. Bertalda and Undine are initially sad at and guilty over her departure, but soon enough he decides to marry Bertalda. Huldbrand dreams about Undine and Kühleborn discussing him and how, if the fountain is unstoppered, he and Bertalda will be in danger. But Bertalda has the fountain uncovered, and then the watery figure of Undine walks through the castle, weeping, and kisses Huldbrand until he dies. Undine, veiled, appears at Huldbrand’s funeral.
“Undine” is one of the best of the Romantic Kunstmärchen, or literary fairy tales. Like the Kunstmärchen written by Ludwig Tieck (see the Zerina entry) and Wilhelm Hauff (see the Orbasan entry), “Undine” has a greater depth of characterization and even psychological insight, so that “Undine,” like the other Kunstmärchen, reads like a cross between a traditional fairy tale and a novel. More than the other Kunstmärchen, though, “Undine” nicely combines an atmosphere of the supernatural with ominous moments, especially the leitmotif of a frightening white face (which is later revealed to be Uncle Kühleborn’s) appearing in the forest and near the fisherman’s house. De la Motte Fouqué’s pace is exactly right, slow enough to let us linger over certain frightening moments but fast enough through the sections which are not as important to the story. Huldbrand’s betrayal of Undine and his final fate is not predictable but rather inevitable in the way of the better fairy tales and legends.
Undine herself is quite charming. Before she marries Huldbrand and gains her soul she is a creature of nature, mischievous, spiteful, childlike, flirtatious, annoying and enchanting. After the marriage, when she gains her soul, she is kind, loving, mature, and a good person. Even after Huldbrand has done her wrong and left her with a lasting sadness she still does her best to protect him, but it’s not enough. As mentioned, she is a water sprite, with powers over other sprites and over the water.
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
X-Y. Xipéhuz to Yuki-onna
Z. Zaleski to Zoe