Kinder, Stephen

Edité par Laird & Lee, Publishers [1902]., Chicago, 1902
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Octavo, pp. [1-6] 7-270 [271-272: ads], four inserted plates, other illustrations in the text, original blue cloth, front and spine panels stamp in white and gold. First edition. "An amiable, if unspectacular, piece of fiction: part dime novel adventure, part romantic melodrama, part fantasy, part detective story, part regionalistic sight-seeing tour. The fantasy element posits the survival in the upper Midwest of a caveman from the last ice age. The strange old man, known to the inhabitants of the resort island as Old Stone for his implacable and ancient demeanor, has been there, living in a hidden network of caverns, since before the first white settler arrived. He is said to be addicted to strong liquors and opium. He falls into trances every now and then. With his skin, hair and rags all blending together, his ancient, faded appearance causes the narrator of the novel to compare him to a fossil -- which is quite literally what he turns out to be. "Dick is an amateur geologist on holiday with Mark, a railroad tycoon with the strength of Sampson. The two heroes vie for the affection of Miss Margaret Fosdick, who is courted also by the villainous Dupont. The romantic quadrangle makes up the second plot strand. The third involves Stuart, an incognito U.S. Treasury agent on the track of smugglers. Well into the story, we hear Old Stone's own narrative about himself, which only Dick believes: that he is, in fact, a prehistoric survival, kept alive either through the cryogenic action of the suddenly advancing ice, or through the dying curse of his wife, when she discovered he had eaten their children. Thus, Old Stone becomes a Wandering Jew figure -- and, indeed, escapes the final catastrophe of the novel, when the three plot strands come together in the caverns during a battle between the heroes and the smugglers. As a parting gesture, Old Stone removes a giant rock, triggering an inundation of the subterranean network with lake water, submerging in the process the vast quantities of liquor, opium and antique naval relics stockpiled there over the years by smugglers. "The ingredients are present for a more engaging story than the one Kinder delivers; the author pulls his punches again and again, producing a typical example of the genteel fiction of the day. One scene stands out in contrast. Mark and Dick race to a house of ill repute to which Margaret has been lured on false pretenses by Dupont, who then tries to blackmail her into marrying him. Mark crashes down the front door of the house; shakes the madam of the house like a rag doll until she takes them to Dupont and Margaret; then crashes down that door and enters the room 'in a cloud of flying splinters.' He first goes to Margaret's side and embraces her, then decks the amazed Dupont with a single blow that sends him flying across the room. 'Mark's mighty fist had landed squarely on Dupont's faultless Greek nose, and had driven it, like a nail, into his face, and the bruised and unsupported flesh flapped back and forth with each convulsive breath, like a tattered flag in a winter's wind.' It's a pity the author didn't tell the rest of his story with that kind of gusto. The illustrator likewise ignores the more extravagant possibilities of the story. Still, a rare book, representative of literary fashions of the day, and intriguing for what it might have been." -- Robert Eldridge. Angenot and Khouri, "An International Bibliography of Prehistoric Fiction," SFS, VIII (March 1981), 44. Bleiler (1978), p. 114. Reginald 08235. Smith, American Fiction, 1901-1925 K-188. Not in Hubin. Cloth rubbed at spine ends and corner tips, else a fine copy. (#149558). N° de réf. du libraire 149558

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Détails bibliographiques


Éditeur : Laird & Lee, Publishers [1902]., Chicago

Date d'édition : 1902

Reliure : Hardcover

Edition : 1st Edition

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