The Beetle (1897) tells the story of a fantastical creature, “born of neither god nor man,” with supernatural and hypnotic powers, who stalks British politician Paul Lessingham through fin de siècle London in search of vengeance for the defilement of a sacred tomb in Egypt. In imitation of various popular fiction genres of the late nineteenth century, Marsh unfolds a tale of terror, late imperial fears, and the “return of the repressed,” through which the crisis of late imperial Englishness is revealed.
This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a rich selection of historical documents that situate the novel within the contexts of fin de siècle London, England’s interest and involvement in Egypt, the emergence of the New Woman, and contemporary theories of mesmerism and animal magnetism.
About the Author
Julian Wolfreys is a Professor of English at the University of Florida, Gainsville.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction Richard Marsh: A Brief Chronology A Note on the Text
Appendix A: London in the fin de siècle
- From Walter Besant, All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882)
- From Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
- From Henry James, “London” (1888)
- From Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four (1890)
- From Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
- From Arthur Machen, The Three Impostors (1895)
- From Arthur Morrison, A Child of the Jago (1896)
Appendix B: The New Woman
- From Ouida, “The New Woman,” North American Review (May 1894)
- From Sarah Grand, “The New Aspect of the Woman Question,” North American Review (March 1894)
- From Nat Arling, “What is the Rôle of the ‘New Woman?’,” Westminster Review (November 1898)
- From Kathleen Caffe, “A Reply from Daughters,” The Nineteenth Century (March 1894)
Appendix C: English Interest and Involvement in Egypt
- From Georgia Louise Leonard, “The Occult Sciences in the Temples of Ancient Egypt,” The Open Court (1887)
- From J.Norman Lockyer, “The Astronomy and Mythology of the Ancient Egyptians,” The Nineteenth Century (July 1892)
- From “Egypt,” London Quarterly Review (April 1884)
- From “Our Position in Egypt,” The Speaker (19 October 1891)
Appendix D: Mesmerism and Animal Magnetism
- From Joseph W. Haddock, Somnolism & Psycheism; or, the Science of the Soul and the Phenomena of Nervation, as Revealed by Vital Magnetism or Mesmerism, Considered Physiologically and Philosophically, with Notes of Mesmeric and Psychical Experience (1851)
- From James Esdaile, Natural and Mesmeric Clairvoyance, with the Practical Application of Mesmerism in Surgery and Medicine (1852)
- From “Magic and Mesmerism,” Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, 50 (1843)
- From Romulus Katscher, “Mesmerism, Spiritualism and Hypnotism,” The Literary Digest (21 February 1891)
Works Cited and Recommended Reading
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Typing a long review on a Nook Color doesn't sound fun, so I'll just say that this is quite a gem of a book, and I very much recommend it.
It's just a personal opinion, but classic Gothic horror should not be this dryly amusing - the tongue in cheek tone really makes it difficult to appreciate the otherworldly threat.There's plenty that's sinister in this novel; however, with the exception of the first narrator (who has good reason not to be cheerful), nearly all points of view are rather too smug for the storyline. That aside, this is quite an entertaining yarn, with some snort-out-loud moments and one cannot help admiring the choice of villianous aspect... beetles are not normally considered a proper manifestation of evil (a harbinger, on occasion) and the melding of an Egyptian sect with Victorian life one of those surreal touches that make Gothic horror work.The author does take a while to get to the point; pieces of information that would not have given away the plot but might have made the story stronger in the middle were tacked onto the end in a sudden change of pace. The less said about the romantic theme the better.