"In my time I have seen men who have come to their death by violence, but I have never seen such an extraordinary sight as he presented. It was as if some savage thing, fastening upon him, had torn him to pieces with tooth and nail. His flesh had been ripped and rent so that not one recognisable feature was left. Indeed, it might not have been a man we were looking upon, b"In my time I have seen men who have come to their death by violence, but I have never seen such an extraordinary sight as he presented. It was as if some savage thing, fastening upon him, had torn him to pieces with tooth and nail. His flesh had been ripped and rent so that not one recognisable feature was left. Indeed, it might not have been a man we were looking upon, but some thing of horror."After a night of intemperate drinking and gambling with his neighbour Edwin Lawrence, John Ferguson awakens in a cold sweat from a horrible nightmare in which he seemed to see Lawrence being torn to shreds by some vicious beast. But what is Ferguson's horror when he wakes to find that a beautiful woman, covered in blood and with no memory, has climbed through his window and that his vision of Lawrence's death is all too true!Who is the killer? The list of suspects is long: Ferguson, the lovely amnesiac, the dead man's dissolute brother. Or maybe the truth is more terrible still: Was Lawrence slain by the supernatural creature of Ferguson's dream - a bloodthirsty demon capable of the most savage of murders?One of eight novels published by the prolific Marsh at the height of his popularity in 1900, "The Goddess: A Demon" retains its ability to thrill and terrify. This new edition, the first in over 75 years, features the unabridged text of the first edition and includes a new introduction and notes by Minna Vuohelainen as well as a wealth of contextual appendices and a reproduction of the original cover....
|Title||:||The Goddess: A Demon|
|Number of Pages||:||292 Pages|
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The Goddess: A Demon Reviews
Richard Marsh (1857-1915) is best remembered today for his bizarre gothic novel The Beetle, which was published in the same year as Dracula and at the time outsold Stoker’s classic novel. Marsh’s real name was Richard Heldmann. His father was a German lace merchant who became a naturalised British subject. He was declared bankrupt in circumstances that suggested that in his business affairs he sailed rather close to the wind and may have been involved in practices that were on the edge of illegality. His son seems to have inherited his father’s recklessness. Richard Heldmann’s literary career was interrupted by a prison sentence for forgery in the 1880s. By the early 1890s he had resumed his writing career and was starting to make a name for himself as a popular writer of sensationalistic but entertaining novels. He went through an amazingly prolific period in the late 1890s and early 1900s. In one year no less than eight books of his were published, although this total included re-issues of earlier works. He was regarded with disdain by serious critics but this had no effect on his popularity.Apart from The Beetle his most notable foray into the world of gothic fiction was The Goddess: A Demon, published in 1900. This novel combines elements of Wilkie Collins-style sensation fiction, crime fiction and the gothic. And like The Beetle it has a rather bizarre flavour all its own. No-one else wrote fiction quite like Marsh’s. He avoided the obvious themes and had a strange but fertile imagination.The Goddess: A Demon opens with a bizarre murder. The victim, Edwin Lawrence, appears to have been slashed to death in a frenzied attack by several different knives. A short while earlier he had been playing cards with the book’s narrator, John Ferguson. Ferguson was fairly sure that Lawrence had been cheating, and Ferguson ended the night owing Lawrence no less than £1,880.Shortly afterwards a woman enters Ferguson’s apartments through an open window. She is covered in blood and seems confused. In fact more than confused - she doesn’t even know her own name. She witnessed the murder but has no idea who the murderer was. It may have been her. She simply doesn’t know.Ferguson is a tough adventurer who has been around but when it comes to women he is something of an innocent. He us convinced the woman is innocent. Persuading the police of her innocence is however no easy task, complicated by the fact that he himself is also a suspect. Marsh has quite a few plots twists still up his sleeve at this stage, and they are genuinely unexpected.The atmosphere is one of paranoia and madness. Ferguson isn’t even entirely sure of his own innocence, and the sanity of most of the characters is in some doubt.In its own way this book is just as interesting and just as strange as The Beetle. It’s a difficult novel to classify - weird fiction is perhaps the closest one could come to assigning it to a particular genre. It’s very weird indeed, in a way that only Richard Marsh could successfully pull off. Definitely highly recommended.The Valancourt edition includes an introduction and about eighty pages’ worth of assorted appendices on everything from Victorian concepts of madness to London fogs to knife crime. The introduction alone makes this edition the one to look for.
Is this as good as Marsh's _The Beetle_? No, though I think it is certainly better than Marsh's other works that I have read and well worth a look for those who like Victorian popular fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. John Ferguson, the narrator, is a sort of world-wearied hard-boiled figure I haven't encountered in a lot of Victorian fiction, and I enjoyed his various reactions to different characters and situations. Once again, as with _The Beetle_, I'm struck by Marsh's significant debt to Wilkie Collins both in surface details and in terms of the larger implications of his works. Victorian reviewers picked up on these parallels, and there is certainly a lot that could be said about the connections between these two writers. _The Goddess_ shows some very notable ties to both _The Woman in White_ and _The Moonstone_. The denouement of the book, though I was worried that it would be a let-down, turned out to be rather surprising, and, to a certain extent, somewhat ironic. It's clear that Marsh knows how to wrap up a tale properly and how to engineer a sensational conclusion. There are aspects of _The Goddess_, too, that some will find quaintly and disturbingly Victorian. That the final two chapters should involve such detailed accounts of bills becoming due on certain dates, forgeries, and the amounts of different financial instruments is not surprising, but this fact does take away from the suspense a bit. Only in a Victorian thriller... Also, this story comes with a very generous dosage on antisemitism in relation to the financial instruments, so readers should be prepared for this. It's not anything new, but it shows Marsh's serious biases. This is a very nice edition. While I haven't looked at the introduction yet, a number of the notes were helpful and the set of reviews in the back were especially valuable. I think teachers might also like the connections that could be made between the violent murder of this novel and the Jack the Ripper murders--connections that Mina Vuohelainen explores in one of the appendices. Valancourt Classics is doing a lot of great work...
'The Goddess: a demon', by Richard Marsh, was published three years after Marsh's best-selling success, 'The Beetle' (1897), and which established Marsh as a prolific and popular author at the turn of the twentieth century.A Gothic mystery, set in a suitably foggy West-End London in winter, the story revolves around the detection of the violent murder of the profligate Edwin Lawrence by his friend, John Ferguson, who shares his lodgings. Late at night, Ferguson sees Lawrence being savaged by an unidentifiable monster, but is unsure whether or not he has dreamed Lawrence's murder or actually witnessed it in person. Marsh keeps the reader guessing as to whether the murderer is either Ferguson himself, Lawrence's brother, Bessie Moore, an actress suffering from amnesia who appears in Lawrence's room, or a supernatural demon in the form of an Indian goddess. Marsh's sensationalist descriptions of the savage murder of Lawrence might rival some contemporary horror writers for their gruesomeness. The strange unearthly laughter that Ferguson hears in the foggy streets leaves the reader wondering whether or not he is mentally unstable, and is not responsible for his friend's death. Minna Vuohelainen's new edition contextualizes the novel with appendices that set the work in its cultural context, not least with excerpts from the newspapers of the unexplained and brutal murders of Jack the Ripper, in Whitechapel East London, in 1888 and 1889. Vuohelainen also includes some interesting extracts from medical treatises on the effects of alcohol on the personality and the mind, as well as the writings of late nineteenth-century writers on mental instability. A very informative introduction gives an account of Marsh's life, particularly the forgery of his identity and shows how this element of Marsh's life plays out in the novel. Vuohelainen also sets the work in context of the critical reception to 'the Yarning school', a type of mass-market fiction focused on story and plot (and often sold in railway stations to commuters) and which utilized elements of the detective and sensation novels of the 1860s. But as Vuohelainen reveals, Marsh's novel explores many of the contemporary social fears not long after the most notorious Whitechapel murders that deeply shocked Victorian London and perhaps marked the beginning of modernity: the isolated and invisible killer.
A little less supernatural than The Beetle, Marsh's most well-known work, but this mystery/thriller has much of the same hilarious period dialogue. I think the way characters talk in Marsh's works goes a long way in defining them (and amusing readers like me).
The value of this reprint is the vast amount of new research by the writer of the introduction, Shaun Cooper.