Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Beetle.

Came across a copy of the book The Beetle by Richard Marsh in a visit to an Oxfam bookstore. It is a book I have been keeping an eye open for since first hearing of it being mentioned during a documentary on the life of the writer Robert Aickman I watched a couple of years back. I think Marsh was a distant past relative of Aickman, which just goes to show the truth of Conan Doyle's statement about how art in the blood can take the most curious forms. The book was published in 1897, the same year as Dracula, and in its day actually sold better than Stoker's classic horror novel. I fear it quite forgotten about these days as I have not seen it mentioned anywhere else. Some things last all the ages while others do not.
           I am enjoying it. It is quite barmy. A swarthy Victorian supernatural melodrama all purple hues and quirkily humorous prose. Oh yes, there is a sense of humor at play among the various beastly and ghastly situations that beset the upright British sensibilities that abound and a cigar and port imbiding old boys club eccentricity about it. Like a tale emerging from the recesses of the comfortable familiarity of an old red leather armchair in a swathe of hand rolled Turkish cigar smoke. A tale almost too terrible to tell, or so it keeps warning us. They should release a talking book version with The League of Gentlemen cast performing it. Respectfully off course. I mean it as a compliment.
              It is quite a weird read. The story involves a group of crusty upper echelon Victorians and their travails surrounding  Egyptian scarab chicanery,where a shape shifting Egyptian Supernatural entity seeks revenge on and upcoming Member Of Parliament, cloaked in the cultural prejudices and misunderstandings of the day. Politicians are upright and virtuous, foreigners are shady and shifty and ladies always stand by their men no matter how trivial they are treated.
              I do love the idea that in Germany this book was called Der Skarabus...
              Now that really sounds like Victorian Melodrama to get ones teeth into. Dracula Be Damned!