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Detection, deviance and disability in Richard Marsh’s Judith Lee stories

in its approbation of Holmes’ quest for normativity and its condemnation of suffragette campaigns. Yet Lee can be seen as both resistant to and complicit with the taxonomies commonly associated with detection; while the stories’ conformist position as scientifically minded detective fiction is complicated by their apparent tolerance of transgressive identities and Lee’s seemingly semi-supernatural communication skills, their very premise – Lee’s expertise as a teacher of the deaf – undermines such counter-hegemonic readings because her profession aims to conceal or

in Richard Marsh, popular fiction and literary culture, 1890–1915
Abstract only

and social transgression and is yet often unable to grant his subversive characters a happy ending; who was in all likelihood half-Jewish and yet expressed xenophobic sentiments in his writing. Marsh had a love of double identities, having tried on, in the course of his life, the roles of a swindler, an impersonator and a pseudonymous author, and his fiction often thematises the blurring of identity. Marsh was born Richard Bernard Heldmann in St John’s Wood, a wealthy but slightly dubious area just north of central London, on 12 October 1857. He was the eldest child

in Richard Marsh, popular fiction and literary culture, 1890–1915
Situating The Beetle within the fin-de-siècle fiction of Gothic Egypt

Seven Stars. Though Marjorie escapes the ultimate fate of the daughter in Stoker’s tale, her encounter with the Beetle shatters her sanity for years to come and echoes the threat to the young girl in ‘The curse of Vasartas’. This gendered logic points relentlessly to the fatal consequences of British appropriation of Egyptian sovereignty, with the offended Egyptian entities attempting in turn to dispossess the male trespassers of the women who are their most precious belongings. The theme of rightful and contested property ownership permeates the Gothic Egyptian genre

in Richard Marsh, popular fiction and literary culture, 1890–1915
The Datchet Diamonds

appeared in imitation at the fin de siècle have led to a scholarly emphasis on detection and its pleasures, and to the idea of detective fiction as an ideologically conservative form. Detective fiction, so the argument goes, simplifies reality, presenting society as an ultimately readable text whose meanings can be deciphered through the application of rational and scientific techniques.7 It reassures its readers that unknown forces can be made knowable, that the law will ­triumph and social order be restored. While this interpretation has recently been contested, with

in Richard Marsh, popular fiction and literary culture, 1890–1915

readers’ eyes cross the colon to the subtitle, a qualifying term that confirms that Richard Marsh has, as in his Egyptian Gothic tale The Beetle (1897), again named his work after an evil creature of indeterminate identity. The bipartite title intrigues, and its indeterminacy structures the text: the Goddess in question is seen only through vague impressions until she is literally dissected at the end of the novel, when the narrator reveals that she is, despite her seemingly supernatural characteristics, an automaton. This chapter explores the significance of the

in Richard Marsh, popular fiction and literary culture, 1890–1915