This collection reappraises and retheorizes Marie Corelli’s diverse fictional writings and locates them in their contemporary literary and social context.
Marie Corelli [1855-1924] was a fabulously popular novelist in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Yet, in her day, critics railed against her taste for sentimentality, melodrama, supernatural worlds, and overt didacticism. Many critics are still ambivalent about her writing. However, in their reappraisal, the contributors to this volume largely circumvent the earlier critics and engage afresh with Corelli’s writing strategies; genre choices; representations of social issues; and ideas about science, metaphysics, and morality. Moving beyond the now outdated project of "recovery", the volume also discusses Corelli’s literary market place, analysing both her publishing successes and her decline in popularity. An important theme throughout is Corelli’s troubled relationship with an emerging literary Modernism and an ever-widening gulf between high and popular culture. The contributors interrogate the critical templates, assumptions, and biases of a literary establishment (past and present) centred on Modernist tropes and structures. As a result, the Corelli they unearth is not a defective Modernist but an innovative and original writer who eschewed the dictates of a movement with which she had no empathy.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Women’s Writing.
1. Introduction – Marie Corelli: A Critical Reappraisal
Carol Margaret Davison and Elaine M. Hartnell
2. Moral Uncertainty and the Afterlife: Explaining the Popularity of Marie Corelli’s Early Novels
3. The Corellian Romance contra Modernity: The Treasure of Heaven and Innocent
4. ‘‘Je t’aime . . . moi non plus’’: Deconstructing Love in Open Confession to a Man from a Woman
5. The Genius in Ardath: The Story of A Dead Self
6. Marie Corelli’s Best-selling Electric Creed
7. Morals and Metaphysics: Marie Corelli, Religion and the Gothic
Elaine M. Hartnell
8. Marie Corelli’s Barabbas, The Sorrows of Satan and Generic Transition
Benjamin F. Fisher
This series explores a wide range of women’s writing from across the world, spanning several centuries up to the First World War. Each volume consists of a collection of essays focusing on a specific theme, time-period, genre, or author, ranging from the canonical to lesser-known and neglected writers. These books will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of literature and history, as well as for more general readers with an interest in historical women writers and their work.