BASIL NETHERBY. Arthur Christopher BENSON.


London: Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, Paternoster Row. No Date (1926). First Edition. Octavo, original red cloth lettered and ruled in black on spine panel, front panel lettered in black and bordered in blind, Upper and fore-edges trimmed, other edges untrimmed. 211 pp + 20 pp publisher's catalogue at rear, dated Autumn, 1926. Inner rear hinge starting; faint remnants of a lending library label on inner front cover, mild foxing. Later bookplate of William Henry Escott on front paste-down. A few small scuffs to the cloth; light stress marks to spine. Overall, about a very good copy of an extremely scarce book. Item #311921

¶ Two previously unpublished novellas discovered by E. F. Benson among his late brother’s papers, both of which deal with the lingering influence of a dead student of the black arts. In “Basil Netherby,” the titular character is a musician whose personality has undergone a significant change since he has taken up residence at Treheale, an isolated rural estate. Netherby’s previously unremarkable compositions have become complex, unbridled celebrations of all that is sensual and passionate in life, and his friend from college, Leonard Ward, fears that Netherby has been possessed by the restless spirit of the former owner of the manor. Narrated by John Hartley, a journalist, “The Uttermost Farthing” recounts Hartley’s adventures with Hector Bendyshe at Hebden Hill, a large Sussex estate, whose former owner, Hugh Faulkner, was believed to have used black magic to kill members of the local village who held him in contempt because of his checkered past. Hartley and Bendyshe investigate various paranormal occurrences at Hebden Hill, which culminate in a confrontation with Faulkner’s ghost over a hidden journal detailing Faulkner’s experiments in the occult. Both novellas are beautifully written and contain excellent period detail about architecture and landscapes, but each novella, particularly “The Uttermost Farthing,” is marred by a somewhat saccharine ending of love and redemption that does not logically follow from the genuine scenes of terror, some quite well done, that precede it.

Price: $750.00

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