‘In that Egyptian den’
Situating The Beetle within the fin-de-siècle fiction of Gothic Egypt
in Richard Marsh, popular fiction and literary culture, 1890–1915
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This chapter analyses the relationship between Marsh’s bestselling novel of Egyptian malevolence, The Beetle: A Mystery (1897), and a subgenre of Gothic Egyptian fiction which developed partially in response to contentious Anglo-Egyptian political relations. Marsh began writing his novel in 1895, the same year General Herbert Kitchener launched his famous and ultimately successful campaign to quell Islamic-nationalist rebellion in northern Sudan, then indirectly under Anglo-Egyptian control. This chapter exposes the links between the novel and colonial politics, placing The Beetle within the context of Anglo-Egyptian and Sudanese conflict, rather than broadly reading it against general imperial concerns. The chapter provides a fuller picture of both the remarkable revival of the Gothic literary mode at the fin de siècle and the society in which this literary phenomenon occurred. The chapter also reveals how Marsh’s text dramatically exceeded Gothic Egyptian genre conventions in its emphasis on pagan as well as colonial monstrosity.

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