“Society was held together by brute force, intrigue, cord and axe, and woman’s flattery. But a push seemed needed to overthrow it. Yet it was quite secure, nevertheless, as there was none to give that push.”
The Life and Significance of Henry Fielding (1707–54) | Stephen Basdeo
“Except for Shakespeare, Fielding was the greatest English playwright between the Middle Ages and the 19th century”–George Bernard Shaw
Mysteries of the People, Mysteries of the World: Eugene Sue’s Anti- Medievalism and the Revolutions of 1848
When Napoleon the Third came to power, shipments of Mysteres du Peuple were seized and booksellers were prevented from selling them. Many French politicians and writers were forced into exile as a result of the coup; one such exile was Eugene Sue.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) | Stephen Basdeo
“Sooner or later they will catch us and kill us. They will rape me. They’ll rape him. They are going to rape us and kill us and eat us.”
Eugene Sue’s “Mysteries of the People” (1848): “The Branding Needle” and the First French Commune | Stephen Basdeo
To reign! the ambition of great souls! To reign like the Emperors of Rome! I wish to emulate them in all their sovereign omnipotence!
“Something strange and marvellous”: Victor Hugo’s Essay on Walter Scott | Stephen Basdeo
“He unites the exactness of the [medieval] chronicles, the majestic grandeur of history, and the all-compelling interest of romance.”
Victor Hugo’s “Ninety-Three” (1874) | Stephen Basdeo
Revolution is humanity’s surgeon, it cuts out the tumour, it cuts off the gangrened limb—What! would you have pity for the virus? For the gangrened limb!
A Brief History of Crime Literature | Stephen Basdeo
“when our happy credulity in all things is woefully abated, and our faith in the supernatural fled, we still retain our taste for the adventurous deeds and wild lives of brigands.”
The Janissary and Massacre of the Christians (1850) [Part 2] | G. W. M. Reynolds
“Karl has a wife and a child—if you consign him to death, you kill three persons at once;—if you give me up to the executioner, my fate will redound so terribly on no one!”
The Janissary and Massacre of the Christians (1850) | G. W. M. Reynolds
His rage knew no bounds. He muttered threats of deadly vengeance; and on the following morning, he commanded the prisoners to be brought into his presence. Then commenced a terrible massacre, the horrors of which no human pen nor tongue can narrate.
A Tale of the Great Plague (c.1840) | Thomas Hood
Thomas Hood (1799–1845) was born in London and, his father being a bookseller, grew up around books. He went on to become a poet, novelist, and satirist. Most famous for his poetry, William Michael Rossetti in 1903 declared him “the finest English poet” between the generations of Shelley and Tennyson.” Although by their nature pandemics are very serious affairs, this particular short story takes a somewhat lighter approach to portraying a pandemic.
Eugene Sue’s “Mysteries of the People” (1848): “The Poniard’s Hilt” and the Arrival of Feudalism in France | Stephen Basdeo
By Stephen Basdeo, a writer and historian based in Leeds, United Kingdom. This article follows on from previous posts on Eugene Sue’s epic socialist novel Mysteries of the People. In 1848 Karl […]
G. W. M. Reynolds’s ‘Memoirs’ Novels (1850–57) | Stephen Basdeo
In 1851 G.W.M. Reynolds launched a new series of ‘memoirs’ novels that told the story of poor women struggling to make their way in a heartless and alienating capitalist world.
The Sisters: A Tale | Susannah Frances Reynolds
This is a short story by Susannah Reynolds, printed in Reynolds’s Monthly Magazine, December 1838. The story has been transcribed by Jessica Elizabeth Thomas.
A Canadian Tale of Horror | Anonymous
I rose cautiously from the bed…One look, and the blood chilled in my veins, and I could feel the hair rising upon my head!
Harriet Owen, the Fisherman’s Daughter (1857) | Pierce Egan the Younger
A Victorian-era tale of woe and adversity for a brother and sister abandoned by their parents.
Mary Shelley’s “The Last Man” (1826): An Abridged Version | Stephen Basdeo
Presented here is an abridged version of Mary Shelley’s post-apocalyptic pandemic novel “The Last Man” (1826). The plague makes its way across the world killing all in its path and eventually arrives in England. Many of the motifs we find in modern-day apocalypse movies can be found in Shelley’s novel: lawlessness and rioting, the rise of religious madmen, the hoarding of food, and scenes of desolate towns and cities. The extract presented here is a highly abridged one which provides an overview of how Shelley imagined the end of the world as ushered in by a pandemic.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part VII) | G.W.M. Reynolds
The notary sank upon a chair, gazed wildly at that brother whom he had never wished to encounter more, and in whose presence he so singularly and unexpectedly found himself: Alfred de Moirot crossed his arms on his breast, and returned the timid glance of the notary with one of scorn, indignation, and reproach. The Baroness and de Montville exchanged looks of mingled satisfaction and anxiety.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part VI) | G.W.M. Reynolds
While the inhabitants of the chateau were thus thrown into a strange state of doubt, anxiety, and alarm, the approaching steps of horses and the wheels of a heavy vehicle indicated the arrival of some visitor. A loud knocking speedily commenced at the front door, and in a few minutes the gallery, with which the room the room where the evening meal had been spread, communicated, re-echoed to the steps of’ several individuals.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part V) | G.W.M. Reynolds
“Traitor!” cried M. Delville, when he had managed to put himself in possession of the contents of the letter; “I could tear your very flesh from your body; but I prefer the adoption of other measures, which I shall put into immediate effect, and thus avenge my injured honour;” and having delivered himself of this eloquent oration, M. Delville reeled, fell back into his chair, and relieved his sorrows by the powerful medicine recommendable in such cases—Moëtt’s best Champagne.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part IV) | G.W.M. Reynolds
“The days were passed in amusements of all kinds—the evenings in dancing, fétes champétres, or with music and cards. There were barges upon the canals, beautifully fitted up for the use of the visitors who were fond of water-excursions; hounds and huntsmen for the chase; and shooting apparatus for the sportsman. The ponds were filled with an abundance of fine fish; and many sought a recreation in, to me, the cruel art of angling. Thus was time whiled away on the wings of pleasure; and ennui was banished from those halls of delight.
The Baroness: A Novel (Part III)
The anxiety and interest which were depicted on the countenances of Eugenie and Clemence, as the count made this declaration, were most pungent in the breasts of both; and as they knew that the young nobleman was particularly cautious in the statements he usually advanced, they naturally fancied he had some just reasons to authorize the expression of his opinion with regard to the Abbé.
Reynolds Studies: A Personal History | Rohan McWilliam
Professor Rohan McWilliam gives his own account of how he was introduced to the life and work of George W M Reynolds
George W.M. Reynolds’s Italian Chartist Republic | Stephen Basdeo
What would a Chartist republic look like in practice? Very few Chartist novelists discussed this question in depth, as most of them merely shined a light on social issues of the day. G W M Reynolds, however, used the fictional Italian state of Castelcicala in The Mysteries of London as a ‘laboratory’ in which his progressive theories of government might be tested.