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STRANGE STORIES and other Explorations in Victorian Fiction by Robert Lee Wolff

STRANGE STORIES and other Explorations in Victorian Fiction


Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1971
Publisher: Gambit

The Harvard historian (who did an earlier study on George MacDonald -- 1961) has combined three pieces on the Victorian Age which along with its ""density"" and multifarious interests also offered interesting manifestations of the occult and/or disordered. Mr. Wolff's first essay reveals a lifetime of collecting in the field of the Victorian novel which extends into the scholarship of the subsequent pieces. He discusses two novels which deal with neurosis -- Harriet Martineau's Deerbrook which reveals, in conjunction with autobiographical material, an obsessional jealousy, and the lesser known Laurence Oliphant who wrote a ""fishy"" or quite mad story Masollam about a mystic who played a part in his own life. The last section, almost 200 pages, scrupulously scrutinizes the best works of a second-best writer, Edward Lytton Bulwer's Zanoni and A Strange Story, both books inspired by dreams and proceeding from Bulwer's interests in alchemy, Rosicrucianism -- that protean sect, mesmerism and magic. . . . Mr. Wolff's presentation is precise and considered but the venue is rarefied indeed.