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Titre : THE GREAT SECRET: A TALE OF TO-MORROW .
Éditeur : F. V. White & Co., London
Date d'édition : 1895
Reliure : Hardcover
Edition : 1st Edition
Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi [vii-ix] x-xi [xii: blank]  2-288 -304: publisher ads, original decorated red cloth, front panel stamped in black and blind, spine panel stamped in gold, black and blind, publisher's monogram stamped in black on rear panel. First edition. An ambitious attempt to address current social themes and utopian longings within the framework of a sensational adventure novel using occult and fantastic literary tropes, including two shipwrecks, castaways on a deserted island in the Antarctic ("the site of the most ancient of races, the almost mythical Atalanta ."), the discovery of a subterranean lost race of souls resembling huge bats with human faces, Bangsian encounters with deceased celebrities, super-weapons and supernatural forces (both good and evil), anarchism, vampiric cannibalism, and considerable low-level Victorian eroticism throughout. (A note on the book's subtitle: while not set in the future, the novel is fundamentally reformational and "forward-looking" in thought.) The story begins in the Indian Ocean on board a luxurious ocean liner making a six-week "grand tour." However, a group of anarchists on the ship, led by a mad scientist type ("a scientific fiend . who to discover a single scientific secret would coldly mutilate half of humanity"), intend to kill the passengers and crew with a poison gas bomb, hijack the ship, and take it to an island in the Antarctic where the Anarchists intend to start a colony. This they very nearly succeed at. But the ship runs aground on an uncharted island at night during a storm. The survivors (including both anarchists and passengers who have hidden themselves below deck) find a huge cavern which houses the souls of the dead, including some famous historical figures, among them Jesus, though the eschatology here is hardly orthodox. The story contrasts the sudden violent conversion of society as a whole sought by the anarchist with the gradual voluntary conversion of the individual sought by the religious. As an example, it contrasts a holy communion inside the cave with the unholy communion of two anarchists in a lifeboat who murder a beautiful half-naked woman in the moonlight and take turns drinking her blood until they are sated and fall asleep. The happier fate of another male/female couple amounts to a return to noble savagery, as well as a natural Christianity, making this story, among other things, a sort of new NEW PAUL AND VIRGINIA. The author does not quite succeed in bringing all the threads of his story into a unified tapestry, but this remains a formidable expression of fin-de-siecle apocalyptic imagination, and a notably rare book. Australian and New Zealand "Lost Race" Fiction in the Collection of Stuart Teitler (private list), p. 3. Clarke, Tale of the Future (1978), p. 21. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 166. Sargent, British and American Utopian Literature, 1516-1985, p. 107. Suvin, Victorian Science Fiction in the UK, pp. 115-16. Bleiler (1978), p. 148. Reginald 10692. Early owner's name penciled on the front paste-down. Short closed tear in cloth along lower part of outer rear hinge repaired, spine lean, cloth a bit dusty, a very good copy. (#152437). N° de réf. du libraire 152437
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