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 Moving beyond the now outdated project of "recovery", the volume also discusses Corelli’s literary market place, analysing both her publishing successes and her decline in popularity.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.
Table of Contents
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
Carol Margaret Davison is Professor of English Literature at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. She is the author of History of the Gothic: Gothic Literature, 1764-1824 (2009) and Anti-Semitism and British Gothic Literature (2004). She has edited several books and dozens of articles and book chapters on Gothic literature.
Elaine M. Hartnell is currently teaching English at the University of Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. She is the author of Gender, Religion and Domesticity in the Novels of Rosa Nouchette Carey (2000) and of numerous articles and chapters on Victorian literature, the Gothic, and domestic fiction.