Thursday, November 12, 2015
Wraiths and What Became of Dr Ludovicus
Zagava have announced a second edition of my book Wraiths and What Became of Dr Ludovicus. Some copies of the first edition were lost, so that (rather too appropriately) the book has become almost a phantom itself. I am delighted to see it become available again in a newly designed, slightly revised edition.
The design of the book includes exotic illustrations by Ronald Balfour, in the mode of Aubrey Beardsley. This new edition is limited to 50 hand-numbered paperback copies only, in a dustjacket made from hand-made Italian paper, produced with 100% cotton, handmade laid and watermarked. Advance orders are now available, for shipping in about 2 weeks.
The quintessential creation of the fin-de-siècle was a slim volume of decadent verse. The attraction of the Eighteen Nineties to many aesthetes and bibliophiles is the appearance of a few exquisitely-produced books of poems in severely limited editions of a few hundred or less. But what of those whose work was even more elusive and ethereal – the poets whose verses have not survived at all? This essay evokes the memory of five strange and tragic Eighteen Nineties figures whose work seems utterly lost, the poets of volumes so slim as not to exist at all.
What Became of Dr Ludovicus
Continuing the theme of lost works, this essay discusses a macabre thriller written by Nineties poet Ernest Dowson in collaboration with an Oxford friend, Arthur Moore. It was completed, but never published, and the whereabouts of any manuscript are now unknown. This study reconstructs the theme and plot of The Passion of Dr Ludovicus, drawing upon the ebullient letters between the two authors. The lost shocker emerges as a rival to Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the essay is the first discussion of this tantalising mystery.