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Ainsworth, Harrison [Illus. H.K. Browne]. Auriol; Or, The Elixir of Life..

Ainsworth, Harrison [Illus. H.K. Browne]. Auriol; Or, The Elixir of Life..

London: George Routledge and Sons., [1880’s].

Author’s Copyright Edition. 8vo. 246pp. Contemporary half green calf gilt over marbled boards, a spot of scuffing and wear to extremities, but a very good, handsome copy. Red title label, top edge gilt. Internally clean and fresh, illustrated throughout in fine manic goth style by Hablot Knight Browne, aka the matchless Phiz. The narrative madness of mid 19th century fiction is often subsumed beneath the erroneous impression that everyone was walking about being all starchy and repressed in very severe clothing. Should anyone wish for a crash course in just how crazed and frothing 1840’s serialised fiction could be, might do worse than read this; 200 year old fiends, crooks, thieves, swindlers, and dog fanciers (a professional dog thief) with names like Sandman and Tinker, and a storyline that jumps between 1599 and 1830 via an elaborate interlude in 1800, a vengeful dwarf called Flapdragon, the Illuminati, Rosicrucians, possible time travel, the elixir of life, and a hefty dose of who on earth has any idea what is happening. It makes the tortuous floundering of Varney the Vampire look like taut, precise plot building. It’s fantastic, in every meaning of the word and this kind of scattergun, two fingers up to classification deliriousness needs a renaissance.

[Ref: 965] £150

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