Dark Tales Sleuth is Still On the Case!

Remember my other blog, The Dark Tales Sleuth? That’s where I’m tracking down the sources of the unattributed stories in the 1856 anthology, Evening Tales for the Winter, edited by Henry St. Clair. I’m still working on it!

MadelynMack books

After wrapping up Volume One, I started on Volume Two with what seemed like a straightforward case, which quickly turned super interesting. I began with what I thought was a plagiarism of one of the seven “horrid novels” from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and found what I think is an alternative (and earlier!) translation of the first section of the German source novel. Pretty cool!

Volume One wraps up with a post about an abbreviated version of the 1794 gothic novel The Cavern of Death, and two stories originally from a 1764 collection, Tales of the Genii, by James Ridley as “Sir Charles Morell.”

Volume Two opens with a story called “The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century.” I thought there wouldn’t be much to it, because Everitt Bleiler identified this story as the first part of a novel called Der Geisterbanner (1792), by Karl Friedrich Kahlert, way back in 1983. The English translation of Der Geisterbanner is called The Necromancer (1794), translated by Peter Teuthold, a pseudonym for translator Peter Will. The Necromancer was one of the novels listed in Northanger Abbey.

The text of “The Astrologer” is not the same as Teuthold’s text. At first I thought it was someone’s fairly blatant literary thievery — but the evidence suggests that it’s not. It may be an alternative translation of the first section of Der Geisterbanner— from 1793!!

I don’t know of any evidence that “T. Dutton, Esq.” translated the rest of Der Geisterbanner; judging from the (probably altered) conclusion he wrote for the end of the first part, I don’t think he ever intended to. While this diminishes the significance of his version, I still think it’s a pretty cool piece of literary trivia, and it makes me happy that I found it.


Image from Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective, by Hugh C. Weir (1914). Source: Internet Archive.

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