This chapter considers ancient Egypt’s decadent associations at the fin de siècle, considering how the iconography of elite goods trickled down into mass consumer culture, taking Guy Boothby’s thriller Pharos the Egyptian (1898; 1899) as its starting point. The titular Pharos produces his own cigarettes and perfumes, which heighten sensations and lead to visions during states of semi-consciousness. Negotiating, on the one hand, decadent circles and the associated culture of recreational drug use at the fin de siècle, and on the other, advertising for mass-market products drawing upon ancient Egypt’s increasing attraction, this chapter identifies how Boothby uses cigarettes and perfume in Pharos the Egyptian to navigate the boundaries between the high- and middlebrow. It also incorporates discussion of the materiality of Boothby’s volume itself. Originally published in instalments in the Windsor Magazine in 1898, Boothby’s text was reissued as a novel in 1899. This chapter also argues that, as with cigarettes and perfume whose advertising displayed such imagery, Boothby’s novel becomes itself an object that is part of a broader material culture.
A typological reading of H. Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra
This chapter examines how the Victorians sought to understand and redefine Christianity by examining its relationship and connectedness to ancient Egyptian religion and vice versa. Specifically, it presents a typological reading of H. Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra (1889) informed by his posthumously published autobiography The Days of my Life (1926), arguing that the novel is both a microcosm of shifting Victorian attitudes towards Christianity and representative of Haggard’s personal struggle with traditional Protestantism. Haggard capitalised upon the sensationalist discourse that surrounded Egypt and used a loose, typological structure within Cleopatra to present a complex, imaginative dialogue on religion in the nineteenth century as well as explore his own personal doubts surrounding the Christian faith. In Cleopatra, this chapter demonstrates, Haggard establishes that what passed long ago in Egypt still resonates with, and could possibly alter, preconceived assumptions regarding faith and humanity in nineteenth-century England. The inherent tensions produced by Haggard’s own fluctuating faith are reflective of a society keen to define its faith in the face of advancing scientific and archaeological discoveries.
This chapter examines the ways in which nineteenth-century writers and artists remembered the biblical tale of the wife of Potiphar, who attempted to seduce her husband’s enslaved advisor, Joseph. Potiphar’s wife was recalled throughout Western history as a prototype for immoral, aggressive female sexuality. Her profuse reappearances in Victorian writing and art, though, encouraged by the development of Egyptology and the rise of archaeological fantasy, complicate her character and her narrative. This chapter details the resurgence of Potiphar’s wife across a range of early and mid-Victorian texts, including Charles Wells’s verse drama Joseph and his Brethren (1823), the discussions surrounding Wells’s work by Pre-Raphaelites and Algernon Charles Swinburne in the 1870s and an edited poetry collection by Louisa Stuart Costello (1845). These writers and artists move beyond the biblical temptress to discuss the idea of a complex, sexually aware female character and to theorise the connections between the sexualised body and experimental aesthetic form. Mrs Potiphar’s mid-Victorian revival, this chapter demonstrates, propels the move towards considering ancient Egyptian femininity for models of modern female subjectivity and experimental art that would become more fully realised at the end of the century.
Nineteenth-century stage Cleopatras and Victorian views of ancient Egypt
This chapter considers how theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra from the mid to late nineteenth century shaped Victorian views about ancient Egypt, suggesting that such productions were received by audiences as emblematic of Britain’s shaky imperial position. Turning to audience responses and charting the development of the stage Cleopatra from a ‘majestic Juno’ to a ‘demonic Venus’ via performances by Isabella Glyn (1849, 1855, 1867), Ellin Wallis (1873), Sarah Bernhardt (1890) and Lily Langtry (1890), this chapter examines how such imperial anxieties are expressed in relation to views about both English and Egyptian women. Re-examining passages from Shakespeare’s play in which Cleopatra is referred to as a ‘whore’ whose ‘lust’ for Antony can only mean destruction for Egypt and Rome in light of the cultural context surrounding nineteenth-century productions, further illuminates how reviewers saw the play as bound not only to Victorian assumptions about women’s sexuality but to deep-rooted anxieties about Britain’s relationship with Egypt itself.
This book considers ancient Egypt and its relics as depicted in literature across the Victorian era, addressing themes such as reanimated mummies and ancient Egyptian mythology, as well as contemporary consumer culture across a range of literary modes, from literary realism to Gothic fiction, from burlesque satire to historical novels, and from popular culture to the elite productions of the aesthetes and decadents. In doing so, it is the first multi-authored study to scrutinise ancient Egypt in nineteenth-century literature, bringing together a variety of literary methodologies to probe ancient Egypt’s complex connotations across this era. This collection scrutinises and illuminates the ways in which ancient Egypt was harnessed to question notions of race, imperialism, religion, gender, sexuality and the fluidity of literary genre. Collectively, the chapters demonstrate the pervasiveness of contemporary interest in ancient Egypt through the consideration of narratives and authors held as canonical in the nineteenth century, bringing these into conversation with new sources brought to light by the authors of these chapters. Discussing the works of major figures in nineteenth-century culture including Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, George Eliot, H. Rider Haggard, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, this collection extends beyond British writing, to European and American literature. It weaves discussions of understudied figures – such as Charles Wells, Louisa Stuart Costello and Guy Boothby – into this analysis. Overall, it establishes the richness of a literary culture developing across the century often held to have ‘birthed’ the discipline of Egyptology, the scholarly means by which we might comprehend ancient Egyptian culture.
The aim of this chapter is to consider the role that sound plays in the construction of the Gothic and horror genres, in particular through the soundscape of the werewolf film. Whilst there is a growing body of work on music in relation to horror and the Gothic, sound still remains a too-often overlooked area of film aesthetics. I therefore focus my discussion on the sound effects of animality and wildness within these films, particularly the snarls, growls and howls of the wolf and the sound of bodily transformation, alongside the musical scores that accompany the werewolf. In particular, a close analysis of Universal’s first werewolf film, Werewolf of London (1935), and John Landis’s re-imagining of the werewolf in An American Werewolf in London (1981) will examine how the werewolf draws upon a tension embedded within the sound of the wolf that causes it to embody both horror and melancholy while also blurring the lines between animal and human. This duality, from the werewolf’s earliest appearance through to its modern incarnations, complicates the audience’s relationship to horror and the monster within the genre, thus highlighting kinship rather than difference between classic and modern approaches to cinematic horror.
Twentieth-century werewolves, with their monthly transformations, violent outbursts and sudden sprouting of hair, have become a ready metaphor for adolescence in popular culture. Teen Wolf (Rod Daniel, 1985) encapsulates the connection between teenager and lycanthrope. Concentrating on Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (2009–2011) and Annette Curtis Klaus’s Blood and Chocolate (1997), this chapter uncovers the assumption at the core of this metaphor: that teenagers, like werewolves, are animalistic and, moreover, that the wolf is lesser to the ‘were’. Thus, to use the language of the Gothic, both werewolves and adolescents are made liminal in this structure. By looking at the teenage werewolf from the point of view of the wolf, the author looks to address the lower status of the animal and return the wolf’s voice.
The metafictional meanings of lycanthropic transformations in Doctor Who
Given the intertextual tendencies of the franchise, it is perhaps surprising to find that, applying a narrow definition, the werewolf has featured only twice in the BBC television series Doctor Who: once in the form of the punk shapeshifter Mags in ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ (1988–9), then again in that of the foundling host of ‘Tooth and Claw’ (2006). If, however, the genus is approached in a more inclusive spirit, these examples are soon joined by other contenders: the Primords of ‘Inferno’ (1970), for instance, and the Lukoser from the ‘Mindwarp’ episodes of The Trial of a Time Lord (1986). Looking beyond televised stories to the novels published by Virgin and the BBC, the audio dramas produced by Big Finish and comic strips featured in the Doctor Who magazines, it becomes clear that the Whovian werewolf pack is much bigger than it first appears. In exploring some of the ways in which the folkloric hybrid has been adapted to the mythos of Doctor Who at various times and in multiple formats through a period of more than half a century, this chapter is able to comment on the wider cultural adaptability and significance of the werewolf and its primal cousins.
The book explores crucial questions concerning human social existence and its animal substrate, and the intersection between the human and the wolfishly bestial. The collection connects together innovative research on the cultural significance of wolves, wild children and werewolves from a variety of perspectives. We begin with the wolf itself as it has been interpreted as a cultural symbol and how it figures in contemporary debates about human existence, wilderness and nature. Alongside this, we consider eighteenth-century debates about wild children – often thought to have been raised by wolves and other animals – and their role in key questions about the origins of language and society. The collection continues with analyses of the modern werewolf and its cultural connotations in texts from nineteenth-century Gothic through early cinema to present-day television and Young Adult fiction, concluding with the transitions between animal and human in contemporary art, poetry and fashion.
This chapter observes that while several studies of Anglophone Gothic have noted the close connection between Gothic and imperialism, very little of the scholarship that exists on Nordic Gothic has considered this dimension. This should be attributed not only to the general reluctance by scholarship to look beyond Anglophone Gothic, but also to the widespread belief that the Nordic countries remained outside the nineteenth-century colonial project. Referring to several studies that show that the Nordic nations were, in fact, eager participants in the colonial project, the chapter then discusses a number of late twentieth and early twenty-first century Nordic Gothic texts, with a focus on the fiction of Peter Høeg, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Anders Fager, and on the Swedish-French television series Idjabeaivváš (Jour Polaire/Midnight Sun/Midnattssol 2016). These texts are used to argue that Nordic Gothic, sometimes directly and sometimes furtively, addresses colonial concerns and that this tradition shows the same ambivalence towards this colonial past and present as does international Gothic.