aleski, Prince. Prince Zaleski was created by M.P. Shiel and appeared in three stories in Prince Zaleski (1895) and a fourth story in Prince Zaleski and Cummings King Monk (1971). I have somewhat more biographical information on Shiel in the Dr. Yen How entry.
Prince Zaleski is one of the most memorable of the Victorian detectives, on a level with Sherlock Holmes himself. This isn't so much because of the innate quality of the stories--although Shiel's mystery stories are better written than Doyle's, Doyle's are better mysteries--but because of Zaleski himself. He is Russian royalty, a voluntary expatriate who never leaves his crumbling mansion home. He was "victim of too importunate, too unfortunate love, which the fulgor of the throne itself could not abash; exile perforce from his native land, and voluntary exile from the rest of men." Now he occupies his days languorously indulging in the "base of the `bhang' of the Mohammedans," a drug which brings him dream-like hallucinations and helps to pass the time and disperse his ennui. In his ruined abbey home he is surrounded by "Flemish sepulchral brasses, Egyptian mummies, gem-encrusted medieval reliquaries, Brahmin gods, runic tablets, miniature paintings, winged bulls, Tamil sculptures on lacquered leaves of the talipot." And he listens to the "low, liquid, tinkling of an invisible musical-box," and in the "semi-darkness, a very faint greenish lustre radiated from an open censer-like 'lampas' of fretted gold in the centre of the domed encased roof."
None of these things seem to really matter to him, however, because of his own overwhelming ennui. Life itself seems to be not worth the effort; it is only under quite unusual circumstances that Zaleski can be stirred to merely rise from his couch. Zaleski is (in his own mind, at least, and that of his only friend, "Shiel," the narrator of the stories) a superior man, superior in intellect, breeding, and learning to the hoi polloi, the great mass of humanity and the "culture" of the outside world. With the exceptions of those few ancients and more recent geniuses, like Goethe, there is no one of Zaleski's worth, no one to equal him, and few things that deserve the consideration of his mind. So it's not just easier to spend his days alone, seeking the bhang, it is also what the outer world deserves, to be deprived of his genius, and the resulting solitude and proud isolation are a fitting reward rather than a punishment.
As you can see, I am not a wholehearted fan of Zaleski (or for that matter of his stories, but more on that below). The truth is that your reaction, Dear Reader, to Zaleski will depend on your tolerance for the Decadent pose. Actually, calling it a "pose" is unjust. Zaleski, like Axel, is quite sincere in his Decadence. Both are actually symbols and even embodiments of it. George Landow has a good outline of the basic ideas and motifs of the Yellow Nineties Decadents on the Victorian Web site, and Zaleski (more than Axel, obviously) meets these definitions. But the basic assumptions of the Decadents, and the way Zaleski and they display them, can seem affected, self-indulgent, and tiresome.
Or it might just be me.
Zaleski is very well-educated; his speech is full of quotations in Greek and allusions to obscure historical and mythological figures. He's quite well-respected by the royalty of Europe as well as various high-ranking officials in the British government. His knowledge of the history of various British families is unmatched, and there seems to be little he does not know about. He's sibylline; his insight into human nature is so precise that he can and does correctly predict what people are going to do before they do them. And he's a good detective--at least, he solves all the cases he's involved with, correctly pointing out who the guilty party is and why the police have not identified them.
But, again, his personality is problematic. I don't believe Shiel was deliberately making Zaleski unlikable. My sense is that Shiel meant for Zaleski to be seen as admirable. But character traits which might have been admirable to an upper class audience in 1895 strike this member of the 2003 upper class audience as contrived and overdone. Zaleski heaps nearly as much genial abuse on "Shiel" as Holmes puts on poor Watson; Zaleski's superiority complex extends even to his sole friend. Zaleski thinks so little of modern man and modern culture that he does not even read the newspaper. In addition to his contempt for nearly everyone else, he has the usual set of class stereotypes, esp. with regard to the upper classes (in discussing a murder suspect he states that the man is of "gentle blood" and an Earl's son, and "it is impossible to imagine that such a person would commit an assassination, or even countenance one). And Zaleski is a firm believer in eugenics, reflecting M.P. Shiel's own beliefs; Zaleski believes that the most "destructive...subtle, sure, horrible, disgusting...pestilence" is "Medical Science," because it "sedulously conserve(s) our worst" rather than letting the "very best men: the strong-boned, the heart-stout, the sound in wind and limb" flourish.
The stories, like Zaleski himself, are quite memorable without being entirely good. Shiel is good enough, as a writer, to achieve the effects he tries for, and he succeeds in creating a unique atmosphere in the Zaleski stories. Just as Zaleski is the ultimate in Decadent detectives, so too are the Zaleski stories achievements of Decadent mystery fiction. (That they may be the only Decadent mystery stories is beside the point). The stories have a languorous, almost dreamlike air to them. There is no real action, just discussion between the narrator �Shiel� and Zaleski, and Zaleski�s long explanations of the truth behind the mysteries. In terms of moments, the Zaleski stories are the My Dinner With Andrew of mystery fiction: two people talking and not a lot else. Even �The S.S.,� in which Zaleski is forced to leave his home to confront and stop a group of serial murdering would-be Nietzschean ubermenschen, lacks action; Zaleski�s confrontation with the Society of Sparta is relayed to �Shiel� (and the reader) by Zaleski, rather than by the author himself. In this sense Zaleski anticipates and acts as a model for Orczy�s Man In The Corner and the other armchair detectives who followed him.
Shiel achieves the air of Decadence and the fin-de-siecle atmosphere primarily through his language. The descriptions are lush and overripe, Zaleski�s conversations are studded with offhanded references to obscure history and mythology, and the vocabulary is lapidary and overwrought. The Zaleski stories are hothouse flowers, too lush, too rococo. How much one enjoys this sort of thing will depend on one�s tolerance for the Decadent writers. When I read Lautréamont�s Maldoror I may end up longing for the clarity of Shiel.
I don�t feel the Zaleski stories are entirely successful, however, even setting aside the issue of Shiel�s language. As mysteries, the Zaleski stories are not failures, exactly, but not the equal of even average, mediocre detective stories, the kind J.E.P. Muddock churned out for the Dick Donovan franchise. This may be because Shiel saw himself writing Decadent stories with the trappings of detective fiction, rather than Decadent mystery fiction. The clues used to solve the crimes are obscure, in the case of "The S.S." ridiculously so, and Zaleski's chains of reasoning and deductions turn out to be true not through compelling logic but because Shiel arranges for them to be true. Moreover, Zaleski bases his deductions on preconceptions--about class, about crime, and from his own philosophical beliefs--which any normal detective would immediately jettison. Zaleski is right, in his cases, because Shiel wants him to be, not because (as in, for example, Doyle) there is no other alternative that works within the context of the story.
The scenarios themselves are entertaining in a very Decadent way; a family suffering from congenital madness, a turquoise stolen by an Assassin, and a society of murderers waging war against "diseased life, but not against life in general." But at the same time these scenarios are extreme, nearly ludicrously so, and in making them thus Shiel loses the virtue of believability and emotional credibility which most mysteries have to some degree. Shiel is trying for a dreamlike feel in the stories, and so the Decadent crimes and lack of believability are a part of that. But mysteries, at their core, are linear, about cause and effect--there is a crime, and then there is an investigation, and then the crime is solved. Dreams are not. So the mystery aspect of Shiel's stories are overwhelmed by the dreamlike aspect, leaving the crimes absurd.
There are other aspects to the stories which mitigate against the reader�s enjoyment of the stories. Shiel flaunts his own learning with Zaleski�s references and quotes; what likely was intended as a display of erudition instead becomes simple showing off. Zaleski�s long disquisitions on matters not germane to the mystery, pages-long monologues containing statements of philosophy, are more often tedious than interesting. And Zaleski�s dissections of the crimes and the criminals and suspects are long and verbose, and his tone can be tiresome.
The Prince himself is, as I�ve said, weighed down by his own ennui, to the point of gross self-indulgence. He has a superior attitude. He has "the unparalleled power not merely of disentangling in retrospect but of unraveling in prospect, and...to relate coming events with unimaginable minuteness of precision." In addition to this he has a "fineness of intuition" with his subtle reasoning; he has to bear down to concentrate and solve crimes, but when he does he is quite acute and perceptive, even fixated and manic.
alma von der Pahlen. Zalma (1895) was written by T. Mullett Ellis (1850-1919), a British poet and writer about whom I've been able to find little. (Although Jonathan Stainton-Ellis has begun putting together a biography of him here). The novel itself is set in the near future, a few years from "the present," and is about Zalma, a Russian-Spanish princess (but from a dalliance out-of-wedlock between a nameless Russian nobleman and a Spanish Bourbon princess, so that Zalma will not receive the Russian throne or royal riches when the king dies). Zalma is extremely beautiful, of course; more, she's intelligent, gifted with some poetical ability, and very passionate. She's brought up in a convent; the Roman Catholic Church wants to use her to convert England back to Catholicism and away from Godless socialism. Her godfather, the Jesuit Cardinal Cantelupi, persuades her to marry Duke John of Umbria (for whom read King George V), who has developed a great lust for her. They marry morganatically (that is, Zalma's rank remains unchanged and her children with the prince do not gain access to the property, wealth, and titles of the prince) in Malta, but the two do not consummate the marriage and Cantelupi immediately throws Zalma in a Maltese convent. The marriage is not approved by the British Parliament, and Duke John falls for and marries a German princess after annulling his marriage to Zalma.
This, naturally, peeves Zalma. More than a little, actually, and after escaping from the convent she declares herself an anarchist, specifically swearing her hatred of and vowing revenge on the entire male sex. She publishes a Byronic poem (a sure sign of madness, of course) and throws in with her father, Count Pahlen, who is ostensibly the leader of the Russian counterintelligence department and the chief of the movement against anarchists and nihilists but in reality is their leader--and a brilliant and resourceful one, at that. Zalma, to advance her position and make herself more useful to the revolutionary cause, decides to marry a British Lifeguardsman, but she discovers that he treated a former fiancee badly. She moves from him to a vicious, physically abusive cad. Giving up, she turns herself into a courtesan (her seductions being described in...well, discreet pornography is really the only way to put it), partly for the conspiracy and partly for her own pleasure. (There's also a hint that she's engaging in vampirism) Her father is close to killing off the crowned heads of Europe all at once when he is captured by John St. Leger, the brilliant British agent in charge of tracking the revolutionaries. (Zalma and St. Leger are of course in love with each other, but for obvious reasons cannot be together)
Count Pahlen dies in Siberia and Zalma swears vengeance on the entire world. (Okay, she's a little headstrong) The anarchists proclaim her the "Angel of the Revolution" (which sorta makes me wonder whether Ellis had read Griffith's work) and she hatches a plan to spark a socialist revolution: she is going to send a fleet of anthrax-infested balloons into the capitals of Europe. Her father was a noted biologist, and Zalma has some of his skill, and so the plan might succeed...if not for that demmed St. Leger, who uncovers the plot and frustrates it, killing and capturing the anarchists responsible for launching the balloons. He breaks into Zalma's apartment, only to find her dying, having taken poison. The novel ends with mobs rioting in various capitals of Europe and St. Leger wondering if the revolution has begun.
Zalma is a mind-blower of a novel, with references to then-current scandals and appearances by various real-life personalities, including George Bernard Shaw. Zalma is a great character, and death-by-suicide, not being in character for her, should not be the end of her.
Post-script: A gentleman named Rex Phillips wrote to me about T. Mullet Ellis after finding this entry, and I hope he won't mind me quoting his e-mail at length:
I am a grand nephew (he was my mother's uncle) of his, a fact I have only recently discovered. You may be interested in the following books he wrote.ambra, Sebastian. Sebastian Zambra was created by �Headon Hill� and appeared in a number of short stories which were published in The Million and similar magazines and which were collected in Clues From a Detective�s Camera (1893), Zambra the Detective (1894), and Narrowing Circle (1924). �Headon Hill� was the pen-name of Francis Edward Grainger (1857-1927), an English writer of romance and detective stories. Grainger was also the creator of Kala Persad and the female amateur detective Laura Metcalf, who may or may not make it on to these pages, depending on whether I have the time and opportunity to read By A Hair�s Breadth, the novel she appears in.
The Earl's nose, published by Meissner & Buch, London ca 1895, printed in Leipzig
Tales of the Klondyke, Published by Copp Clark, Toronto 1898
The Beauty of Boscastle ( a melodramatic and psychological story??) published Sonnenschein & Co London 1893
The Farie's Favourite (or The start of Queen Victoria told for children) published Ash Partners London 1897
God is Love, (a novel reported to have been banned by some booksellers) Published T Burleigh London 1898
What can a woman do for the Empire? Reissued as Ho! for a British Bride. The latter was published by Holden and Hardingham London 1917
Reveries of world history (From Earths nebulous origin to its final ruin, or The Romance of a Star) published Sonnenschein & Co London 1893
Zalma, of which you are aware
The 3 Cats Eye (of which I know nothing)
A further item or two of possible interest. He edited a publication The Thrush in 1901 which was a vehicle for aspiring poets and in the 1840's there was an editor of the Punch magazine Frederick Mullett Ellis, just a coincidence? or a relative?
Zambra is very much in the Sherlock Holmes tradition, and the reader might be forgiven for seeing similarities between Holmes and Zambra, including references to previous cases which never saw print and, unfortunately, some of the plots to Zambra�s stories, which bear a suspicious similarity to some of Arthur Conan Doyle�s plots. Zambra is a consulting detective with offices at Charing Cross who works in London but ranges across much of southern England when called on a job. Like Holmes, Zambra relies on close observation of people and crime scenes and deductions based on them to solve his crimes, but unlike Holmes Zambra has no Watson; the stories are narrated by Zambra himself or, on a rare occasion, through someone involved in the crime. Zambra is consulted by the nobility and the upper classes, and has a good reputation, although one gets the sense that he isn�t as famous, even in his own sphere, as Holmes is. Zambra shares many of the same attitudes as his customers, looking down on the lower classes and on Catholics and treating women with benign patronization. Zambra is on good terms with Scotland Yard detectives, who he views and treats with good-natured condescension. A typical statement from Zambra about the police is �I was smiling quietly to myself at the tenacity with which official detectivism clings to preconceived theories.� Zambra is very knowledge in his field, being familiar with the tricks of criminals on the Continent and the haunts of the criminal classes in London. He even knows Bohemian London and is friends with some of its natives, on the grounds that he never knows when he might have need of them.
The stories are standard Holmesian late Victorian mysteries in both style and content. There is the occasionally amusing line, but what individual style and originality of phrasing Grainger had and brought to the Persad stories is mostly missing from the Zambra stories. Although Zambra�s customers are usually well-to-do, the crimes themselves are on the more violent side, including kidnapping, murder, and home invasion. Zambra, though, is not violent, and carries his Smith & Wesson on only the rarest of occasions. The other characters in the Zambra stories are the usual cast of characters from late Victorian mysteries, with the addition of stereotypes which may have reflected Grainger�s own prejudices: thieving Romany, puffed-up New Money industrialists, and silly, short-sighted police inspectors. Of note is the occasional Gothic and penny blood touch of the stories: a hidden chamber with a skeleton chained to the wall, an Indian prince carrying out a grudge against the son of his father�s murderer, a man stabbed with a knife which has a woman�s severed hand clutching its handle, a theft of Spanish doubloons, and a �Suicide Club" (definite reference to Stevenson there).
Zambra is described as �a short, square-built man of forty or so, reminding me of the stereotyped pictures of the First Napoleon, but without the �Little Corporal�s� arrogance and bluster. Reserve and determination were expressed in the firm, massive jaw, and the clear, grey eyes were at once penetrating and impenetrable. He was clean shaven, because, as he told me later, he was under the frequent necessity of making up his features in some other guise.�
anoni. Zanoni was created by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton and appeared in Zanoni (1842). Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) is mentioned on this site in several different places, including the M. Favart and Arbaces entries. Bulwer-Lytton has the reputation of being a bad writer, but this is a canard. His style has flaws, but the man had a great imagination, was genuinely experimental in his books, and (as I mention in the M. Favart entry) was influential in four separate genres, historical romance, mystery, occult fantasy/horror, and science fiction, and for that fact alone is worthy of our respect. That his work is usually interesting and occasionally compelling is a bonus.
Zanoni is about, among other things, a love story. In Naples in the latter half of the 18th century Viola Pisani is a beautiful actress and opera singer, the child of a famous musician. She meets the mysterious foreigner Zanoni, and the two are instantly attracted to each other. But Zanoni does not court her, instead pressing the Englishman Glyndon to pursue her. But Glyndon, though he is very attracted to Viola, cannot swallow his pride enough to propose marriage to her; she is below his class and he would risk social ostracism in England if he brought her there. Glyndon gains glimpses of Zanoni�s mystic abilities and asks to become his disciple. Zanoni warns Glyndon that he must renounce earthly desires, including Viola, if he wants to become like Zanoni. Glyndon agrees, and Zanoni hands Glyndon over to Mejnour, Zanoni�s friend and former mentor. Zanoni, meanwhile, gives in to his desires and marries Viola, even though he knows that in doing so he loses much of his power.
Zanoni and Viola have two years of wedded bliss and produce a child they both love. Glyndon, meanwhile, begins well as Mejnour�s student but when confronted by temptation gives in to it, opening himself up to be haunted by the terrifying Dweller on the Threshold. Mejnour rejects him, and Glyndon wanders Europe, seeking Mejnour, so that he can exorcise the Dweller. Glyndon finally meets Mejnour, who refuses to exorcise the Dweller, and Glyndon is forced to return to England. Meanwhile, the plague comes to Naples, and Zanoni, because of his diminished powers, is unable to protect Viola and their child (who I don�t believe is ever named in the novel). Zanoni tries to call upon Adon-ai, a benign celestial creature who in former times was Zanoni�s spirit guide, but Adon-ai does not respond, so Zanoni is forced to summon up the Dweller to protect Viola and the child. Mejnour, in a letter, prophesies doom to Zanoni, and when Zanoni goes on a trip Viola sees Glyndon once more, and he warns Viola about the perils of the spirit world. Viola, frightened, flees to Paris and stays with Glyndon. Unfortunately, the Revolution is in full swing, and Viola is captured. Zanoni finally finds out where Viola is, after some time searching, and goes to Paris. Glyndon tells Zanoni where Viola is, and in exchange Zanoni exorcises the Dweller, who then attaches himself to Zanoni. Zanoni does a final summoning, and Adon-ai appears again, banishing the Dweller. Zanoni then bribes the General of the Parisian National Guard to allow him, Zanoni, to switch places with Viola. Zanoni allows himself to be guillotined. The next day Viola dies in prison, before she can be freed.
Zanoni has a somewhat complex publication history. It began as Falkland and Zicci (1841), but Bulwer-Lytton quarreled with his friends and left Zicci unfinished. He used Zicci as his source for Zanoni, changing names and some of the plot points but keeping much of the text.
Zanoni is, as I mentioned, a love story. It�s also a work of mysticism, occult fantasy, and horror. Its significance lies in its importance as the first major British work of occult fantasy in the 19th century and the novel which, along with Bulwer-Lytton�s A Strange Story (see the Margrave entry), helped establish the genre of occult fantasy in the English language. There were of course predecessors to Bulwer-Lytton; Vathek can be considered occult fantasy. But in terms of the modern genre of occult fantasy, Bulwer-Lytton and Zanoni started it. Zanoni is not as significant in the formation of the genre of horror, but it, and Bulwer-Lytton, were certainly influential on those who followed him, and there is an argument to be made that the school of cosmic horror which Lovecraft made famous and which Arthur Machen did the best (see the Pan entry for more on this) begins with Zanoni, or at least is strongly influenced by it.
In some ways Zanoni has not aged well. Bulwer-Lytton�s style is dated; he over-writes and uses inflated verbiage and rhetoric. He strains for affect (a phrase I perhaps have overused on this site, but it says so much and so aptly that I can�t think of a better phrase), trying much too hard to evoke emotions in the reader through telling us rather than showing us. Bulwer-Lytton inserts great heaps of philosophizing monologues, ruining what momentum the novel has and reducing its pace to stops and starts. Bulwer-Lytton does not practice full historical immersion, leaving Zanoni rather light on facts and context, so that what we�re reading is quite clearly not the past as it might have been but a fictionalized version. And most of the novel�s dialogue is stilted and awkward.
But for all these errors Zanoni still has some power. Bulwer-Lytton tries very hard to evoke a mystic atmosphere and to force his readers into considerations of the Eternal and the philosophical concepts which Zanoni and Mejnour discuss. Even if much of Zanoni is �pages of fustian in the author�s worst metaphysical vein,� as E.F. Bleiler has it, there remain some thought-provoking passages. The mysticism is often heavy handed but occasionally effectively underplayed. And there are a number of passages which are striking in their imagery and powerfully creepy in their execution; the Dweller on the Threshold is a wonderfully horrible creature, and the moment when the Dweller invisibly curls up around Zanoni�s child is a startling and frightening one.
Zanoni is a millennia-old sorcerer, a Chaldean who gained great sorcerous powers, including immortality, through the learnings of the Rosicrucians; he and Mejnour are the last of the Rosicrucians. In his many centuries of life he has accumulated great riches and learning, and spent a great deal of time in the East. His abilities are vast, including the Evil Eye, astral projection, the ability to possess others and speak through their bodies (as he does, creepily, through his infant child), the knowledge of what is in the hearts and minds of other men and women, great healing ability, and various other magical powers, including the ability to summon up, commune with, and command spirits as benign as Adon-ai and as frightening as the Dweller. However, his powers, like all sorcerers�, are dependent on his being free of emotional ties, so that when he falls in love with Viola and gives in to his feelings his powers begin to fade. He is usually grave and formal and mysterious and allusive in speech, although he is described as being witty, sociable, and entertaining when he wants to be.
Zanoni is not a page-turner. There are a number of passages which will tempt you to skim them or skip whole paragraphs at a time, and in all honesty you should give in to that temptation. You won�t be missing much. But you should read Zanoni, not just to get a sense of where occult fantasy came from and what influenced cosmic horror but also for the parts of Zanoni, like the scenes involving the Dweller, which will stick with you after you close the book.
denka. Zdenka was created by Alexis Tolstoy and appeared in �La Famille du Vourdalak� (The Family of a Vourdalak, Russkii vestnik, n1, 1884). Count Alexis Constantinovich Tolstoy (1817-1875), an elder cousin of Leo Tolstoy, is best known for his poetry, lyric and satiric, for his historical romance Prince Serebriany, and for his trilogy of historical dramas. What�s not as well known about Tolstoy is that he wrote some fine horror stories. �The Family of a Vourdalak� is one of them.
The Marquis d�Urfé is an elderly expatriate in Vienna in 1815 who tells his companions a story from his youth. In 1769 he was madly in love with the Duchess de Gramont, who led him on��prolonged my anguish��but did not greatly reciprocate. Much agitated, the Marquis accepted a diplomatic mission to Moldavia. On his way there the Marquis stays in a rural village with some Serbian peasants. When the Marquis arrives the family he is to stay with is upset; the grandfather, Gorcha, had ten days before declared that he was going up to the mountains to help hunt down the Turkish bandit Ali Beg. Gorcha told the family to wait ten days and then have a funeral Mass said for him. But if he returns after those ten days, �do not permit me to enter the house. I order you to pierce me with a stake made of ash, regardless of what I will say or do. Because then I will no longer be myself, but rather a cursed vourdalak come to suck your blood.� The Marquis briefly explains to his audience that among the Slavic nations entire villages have been depopulated and are composed of vourdalaks. The day the Marquis arrives is the day Gorcha had said that he would return, and so the whole family is quite tense. The Marquis notices that the daughter, Zdenka, greatly resembled the Duchess de Gramont, and so the Marquis is quite taken with her. Gorcha eventually arrives, his left side drenched with blood, and George, the eldest of Gorcha�s two sons, sees that Gorcha is wounded in the heart, but Gorcha commands George not to touch him. Gorcha acts strangely, very curt to his family, and the family�s dogs howl at Gorcha. But despite Gorcha�s original command to the family, they do not stake him. George smells dead flesh when Gorcha is around. Gorcha carries George�s son off into the forest and returns with him a few minutes later, with the boy faint and weak. Gorcha refuses to eat any food and refuses to say grace. The narrator sees Gorcha spying on him through his window while the Marquis sleeps. And yet the family does nothing, in large part because the boy says that his grandfather did not hurt him. The Marquis, meanwhile, passionately woos Zdenka, who is attracted to the Marquis but does not yield to him.
Eventually matters come to a head. George�s eldest son comes riding toward the family on a stake, and George�s youngest son attacks George. The Marquis, who had been confined to the village by the frozen river, is told by George that the river is clear and that he can leave. George, who is aware of the Marquis� intentions toward Zdenka, does not allow the Marquis to see Zdenka before he leaves, which saddens the Marquis. His mission in Yassa takes him six months, during which time he is a hit with the Moldavian women and he forgets about Zdenka. When the time comes to return home he travels by the same road and so returns to Zdenka�s village. Before he arrives there he meets a monk who tells him that Gorcha was killed, but that Gorcha�s grandson turned George�s wife into a vourdalak, and she killed the rest of the family. The monk is coy about Zdenka�s fate, saying only that she went mad from sorrow. The Marquis goes to see Zdenka, and although she is happy to see him she reproaches him for not having come sooner and saved her. The Marquis doesn�t understand, and Zdenka begins acting contradictorily, telling the Marquis he should flee but then inviting him to stay the night. Through the night she acts more invitingly and coquettishly, and finally the Marquis is alone in her bedroom with her, she wearing light clothing, her hair unbraided. He embraces her, but as he does the cross around his neck pokes into his flesh, and he becomes aware that Zdenka�s features are �imprinted with death,� that her smile has agony in it, and that the room smells like a half-opened tomb. He manages to make his excuses and retire to his room and then goes to his horse. The vourdalaks in the house are not aware of his departure until the sound of his horse�s hoofs reaches their ears. A chase ensues, with the vourdalaks furiously pursuing him, some making enormous leaps through the air and others riding enormous stakes, and Zdenka calling to him. Zdenka jumps on to the back of the Marquis� horse, but he manages to throw her off and make good his escape.
�The Family of a Vourdalak� was written in the early 1840s but not published until the 1880s, and then only in French, due to the disregard with which horror stories were held by the Russian intelligentsia. The modern reader has more catholic tastes with regard to genre stories, but �The Family of a Vourdalak� is not likely to rank highly in anyone�s list of the best horror stories of the 19th century. It�s an interesting case in shifting audience sensitivities, actually. With the exception of the story�s ending, most of the rest of the story reads as if the very fact of a vourdalak�s existence, so close to the family, is supposed to be frightening, rather than the implicit threat of the vourdalak or his actions toward his family. In the more religiously-conscious environment of the 19th century, especially 19th century Russia, Gorcha�s refusing to say grace would be meaningful, and ominous. To more jaded modern audiences, it�s a minor moment. The scenario of the undead grandfather lying in the bosom of the family, as it were, has potential to be frightening, but the Tolstoy�s execution of the premise mitigates against the modern reader being frightened. It is obvious to the reader from the beginning that Gorcha is a vourdalak. It should be obvious to George and his family, but they are aggravatingly slow in realizing this. Most exasperating of all, Gorcha himself told them what was going to happen, and the family still let themselves be gulled by him. This sort of thing is what my darling wife Alicia calls �stupid people doing stupid things� and is a large impediment to the enjoyment of the story. And Tolstoy tells the story in a flat way which the turgid dialogue of the Marquis can�t alter.
The story isn�t entirely without interest, though. The portrayal of the vourdalak has the feel of genuine folklore. And the story�s ending is cinematic and thrilling. The pursuit of the Marquis, with the vourdalaks chasing after him and Gorcha�s daughter in law throwing her child at the Marquis, is far superior to the similar chase in Dracula.
Zdenka is to be pitied. In life she was beautiful but naive, a patriotic Serbian peasant girl with no knowledge of the outside world. In short order her grandfather goes off to fight a notorious Turkish scoundrel, a French roué appears and macks on her, declaring his love for her while pressing her for physical favors, her grandfather reappears as a vourdalak, her younger brother is made into one of the vampiric undead, the French cad leaves, the rest of her family is taken, she is driven mad and then taken by the vourdalak, and then the French bounder reappears, much too late to help her. Poor thing, Zdenka.
erina. Zerina was created by Johann Ludwig Tieck and appeared in �Die Elfen� (�The Elves� or �Elfin-Land,� 1811). Tieck (1773-1853) was a German writer and a leading name in German Romanticism; he was the creator of Abdallah and the Woodwoman.
Somewhere in the mountains is a village surrounded by beautiful, lush fields and forests and protected by the castle of a Count. Only one spot is drear, a patch of fir in which a small cluster of squalid huts populated by ragged, dirty people. The patch of fir is separated by a stream which is crossed by a bridge, and all of the people of the village avoid the patch of fir and the people who live there, who keep themselves separate and might by Gypsies. But one day young Mary, racing against her neighbor and friend Andres, decides to short-cut through the fir patch rather than run the long way around. Mary races across the bridge and discovers that the patch of fir is a much brighter and wonderful world than it appeared from the other side of the bridge and that the people are more beautiful and nobler than they appeared to be. Mary meets a girl her age named Zerina, and the two play and walk around the area. Mary sees all the wonderful things, the glorious landscape, the great hall of the people (who are, Zerina tells Mary, �the Elves�), and even the arrival of the King. When Mary is about to leave the land she is told that the arrival of the King means that the land will flower and be blessed. Zerina gives Mary a ring but tells her never to tell anyone of the existence of the Elves, or they will have to leave, and with them will go the blessing and happiness of the land. When Mary crosses back over the bridge and leaves the land of the Elves, she discovers that her parents have aged, that her home is different, that Andres has aged, and that so has she�seven years have passed during the one night she spent in the land of the Elves.
Mary�s parents are glad to have her home, and everyone marvels at how beautiful Mary has become, and when the Count and his Lady summon her to tell them her story they are struck at her behavior:
the old Count and his Lady were surprised at her good-breeding; she was modest, but not embarrassed; she made answer courteously in good phrases to all their questions; all fear of noble persons and their equipage had passed away from her; for when she measured these halls and forms by the wonders and the high beauty she had seen with the Elves in their hidden abode, this earthly splendour seemed but dim to her, the presence of men was almost mean. The young lords were charmed with her beauty.The land blossoms early and long, and that autumn Mary agrees to become Andres� bride. They are happy together, and she soon was a daughter Elfrida, but she always thinks with longing and regret about the land of the Elves behind the fir-trees. Elfrida matures frighteningly quickly, being able to speak articulately when she is only a year old, and within a few years she is quite wise and clever and beautiful. She�s also very serious and prefers to be alone rather than play with the other little children, and is happiest in a corner of the garden, left alone to read. Mary and Andres grow used to this, and when Mary discovers a strangely formed piece of gold around Elfrida�s neck, Mary leaves it there. But one day Mary, looking through a chink in the wall of one of their buildings, sees Elfrida, in the grove of the garden, talking and playing with Zerina. Mary begins spying on them, and when Zerina begins flying with Elfrida an alarmed Mary pokes her head through the wall of the building. Zerina merely looks at Mary, holds up a finger, and smiles a warning to her. Andres, meanwhile, is growing increasingly resentful of the �Gypsies,� and Mary�s defense of them mystifies him. Finally Mary shows Andres the chink in the wall, and he, astonished, makes a noise. Zerina hears, glances indignantly at Mary, hugs Elfrida �with stormy haste,� and then turns into a raven and flies away. That night a tower of ravens flies from the land, and the following morning Mary sees that the stone on her ring has become quite pale. The land quickly becomes bleaker and joyless, a local ferryman tells Mary about the passage across his river of a great white streaming light with many thousands of glittering forms, the Count and his Lady leave the castle (which falls into ruins), and as the land withers and dies so does Elfrida. Mary only outlives Elfrida by a few years.
�The Elves� is one of the best 19th century kunstmärchen, or literary fairy-tale. There was a revival in the popularity of the fairy-tale beginning in the late 18th century as part of the German Romantic movement, with writers as different as Wilhelm Hauff (see the Orbasan entry), E.T.A. Hoffmann (see the Dr. Coppelius entry), and Goethe himself penning them. The kunstmärchen are essentially fairy-tales, but with a more mature sensibility and a more conscious manipulation of cultural and literary motifs behind their writing. �The Elves� is a very good example of this. It is a relatively simple fairy-tale, but it deals compellingly and memorably with several motifs which have become mainstays and even cliches in modern fantasy fiction, including elves as higher and better beings rather than evil baby-stealers, time loss from trips to Faerie, and Faerie as a perilous place for the unwary. �The Elves� isn�t exactly horror, not like some of Tieck�s other work (like Abdallah, which I�m working on getting enough information to include here), but it is a very effective story of the supernatural and Faerie; Tieck nicely delivers the sense not just that the Elves are a better, higher people and that Faerie is different from the world, but also that humans who interact with the Elves and visit Faerie are irrevocably changed by it.
The elves look, when seen from outside Faerie, like �hideous� women and �dirty and ill-favoured� children, and Faerie itself is �dark and dismal,� with �dingy fir-trees,� �ruined stalls,� and a brook flowing �with a sluggish melancholy.� But once the bridge over the stream is crossed and Faerie is entered, everything changes, and the elves become handsome and Faerie a beautiful and enchanting place (literally so). Zerina is the kindest and loveliest of the elves, very pleasant to Mary when she enters Faerie. Zerina has �flowing yellow hair and brilliant eyes,� and plays quite happily with Mary, kissing her and being kind to her. But when Mary betrays her promise Zerina becomes indignant, and with her departure and that of the other elves and Faerie, the land of mortals becomes blighted and withered.
ero Zero Seven. .007 was created by Rudyard Kipling and appeared in ".007," which first appeared in The Day's Work (1898). You should know about Kipling, of course, and so I don't feel the need to give any information on him. (I mean, honestly, if you don't know who Rudyard Kipling is, you shouldn't be reading this, you should be doing your homework and then--and only then--reading the Just So Stories or Stalky & Co or The Jungle Book).
.007 (and, yes, Ian Fleming took Bond's number from this story) is actually a train. He begins the story fresh out of shop, his red paint hardly dry and his bumper-bar spotless. He's "an eight-wheeled 'America' loco...and as he stood he was worth ten thousand dollars on the Company's books." But once he's exposed to the other trains in the round-house, he's entirely without confidence, since they're a rough-and-ready lot (emphasis on 'rough') and not at all patient with a newcomer. .007 does make one friend, however, a switching-engine who tells .007 various things he needs to know and defends .007 against the gibes of an over-proud Mogul freight.
One thing leads to another and the Mogul crashes, leading .007 to go out and rescue him. By story's end he's one of the boys and has been accepted into the Amalgamated Brotherhood of Locomotives by none other than the Purple Emperor, the genteel and good-natured Head of the Road.
ingari. Zingari was created by William McDonnell and appeared in Heathens of the Heath (1874). McDonnell (1814-1900) is a writer I've been able to find little about, apart from his being a Canadian and having written a number of novels, poetry, and plays.
Heathens of the Heath is about the lives of the Gypsies in England and about Zingari, their �queen.� The novel is a spectacularly didactic and long-winded screed, one of the shrillest I�ve run across since starting this project. McDonnell�s hostility toward Christianity and all organized religion is so pronounced it�s a wonder the very pages did not drip with acid. McDonnell is scathing toward the Catholic Church and Christianity, scarcely relenting when it comes to Judaism. (Heathens of the Heath is not hostile to Jews, but rather to the institution of Judaism). McDonnell is considerably friendlier toward �primitive� religions, include Zoroastrianism, Shinto, and Buddhism, and quotes numerous scholars and writers to support his arguments in favor of the older religions and against the Judeo-Christian traditions. McDonnell uses his mouthpiece characters to support the claim that the Vedas were the source of the Bible and of Christianity.
Likewise, McDonnell is rather misanthropic about modern man, portraying the British as reveling in bloodshed and gaining a prurient voyeuristic thrill from watching humans and animals fight. But McDonnell is much more sympathetic toward the �Gypsies� (I�ll call them �Travelers� and �Romany,� as they themselves prefer), writing eloquently about the difficulty of their lives in Britain.
Zingari is a mystic and �seeress� who acts as the �queen� of her clan. She is powerful, being able to mesmerize with a glance and to conjure images in mirrors. She is a
venerable gypsy woman, whose age was said to be over a hundred years. Her hair was perfectly white, her face - once perhaps beautiful - was wrinkled and sallow, but her blackk eyes were intelligent, and though now sunken had even still much of the lingering fire of youth. The whole tribe regarded her with reverence, for they believed that none could equal her in dealing in mysteries and forestalling events; and certain strangers from the parishes would sometimes venture to call for such information as they believed she alone could give.And she is contemptuous of Christianity and Christian clergy:
your old book is full of our ancient rites and ceremonies; your new book is but a re-hash of our doctrines.If you�re in the mood for an anti-organized religion tirade dressed up as a novel about the British Romany, do try Heathens of the Heath.
I know ye too well, ye canting hypocrites who revel in deceit. I know ye, placid schemers, who proclaim toleration, yet fiercely persecute, who denounce slavery, yet keep the mind in bondage. O, ye proud-unassuming, ye humble-arrogant knaves, ye specious frauds that feed man upon myths which many of yourselves reject!
By reading your Scriptures, you can come to no other conclusion than that the Jewish Deity - now the Christian God - was like an insatiable fury, jealous and revengeful, ever ready to take offence.
oe. Zoe the Neptunian was introduced in Charles Rowcroft's The Triumphs of Woman. A Christmas Story (1848), which despite the title has more than a little misogyny in it. The Bavarian astronomer Professor Doctor Asterscop sees a light coming from the recently discovered Leverrier's Planet, aka Neptune, in his telescope. The light draws nearer and nearer, eventually landing in Asterscop's garden; the source of the light is a handsome young man with glowing eyes, wearing a fur-like robe. The stranger approaches Asterscop and rubs his head, which allows the stranger to speak German like a native. The stranger calls himself Zoe of the Zarah, the group name for the Neptunians. Like the Zarah, Zoe is a superman, with much greater brain power, especially in calculating, and with various paranormal abilities. They have greatly advanced technology based on a thorough knowledge of electricity and magnetism, which they can control with machines or mentally. Zoe is capable of levitation, flight, metal transmutation, and similar feats; he has brought with him a small metal rod that enhances his abilities. All of the Zarah are males who reproduce by magnetic means. They once transported a human woman to Neptune, but she caused so much trouble that they have brought none further to their planet. Zoe creates a sensation when he changes metals to gold; the cook's lover steals Zoe's talisman and is carried off by it, and without the metal rod Zoe cannot return to Neptune. While Zoe stays at the Professor Doctor's house he falls in love with Angela Asterscop, the Professor's daughter. She loves him as well, but wants to wait to marry him until Zoe finds his talisman and returns to Neptune. Zoe goes in search of the talisman, visiting the countries of Europe and seeing various iniquities caused by women in each. He regains his talisman in England and returns to Neptune, but by the following Christmas he has returned to Angela and married her. The Triumphs of Women is, surprisingly, not exceptionally tedious; the European monologue is a rather heavy-handed satire of Europe and its current manners, the philosophical discussions between Zoe and Asterscop are dull (to say the least), and the misogyny is certainly distasteful, but Rowcroft, a British/Australian writer and consul, had a certain deftness to his style.
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 Man 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