Jessica Allsop
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‘Something on which you may exercise your ingenuity’
Diamonds and curious collectables in the fin-de-siècle fiction of Richard Marsh
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This chapter analyses a selection of Marsh’s diamond fictions in order to show how his curious stones are active in narratives expressing anxieties over masculine mastery of imperial objects and the viability of overseas commodities and global trade. The curiously animate, materially unstable and malevolently metamorphic stones pose questions as to the consequences of the exploitation of Empire. They challenge the expertise of collectors, dealers, and jewellers, indicating the perils of speculation, and of the return of the exotic to the heart of the Empire. The chapter analyses how Marsh’s diamond narratives generate anxiety over a fin-de-siècle market economy and concepts of value, contributing to the fin-de-siècle imaginary an impression of beleaguered masculinity, problematic objects, and an unstable global market.

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