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‘Let the miserable wrestle with his own shadows’: The beleaguered Edwardian male author in Oliver Onions’ ‘The Beckoning Fair One’

Brennan, Zoe

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Abstract

© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. This article argues that the much-anthologised ghost story ‘The Beckoning Fair One’ (1911) by Oliver Onions is usefully read as engaging with a number of contemporary anxieties centred on the Edwardian male writer. Onions stresses the economic and psychological cost to his protagonist, Oleron, of remaining true to his artistic conscience in an increasingly commercial publishing environment. I consider shifting ideas about gender roles that include the promotion of an ‘imperial’ masculinity of a type antithetical to the artistic identity. I also explore Oleron's attitude towards an admirer, a New Woman-type journalist and contrast her with a spectral femme fatale who represents for him a muse from an earlier time. This belief in the ghost leads to a breakdown which I frame in terms of Edwardian models of manliness and hysteria. This is a novel approach insofar as the few discussions of the story to date tend to focus on its hallucinatory qualities rather than Onions’ engagement with debates of the day.

Citation

Brennan, Z. (2017). ‘Let the miserable wrestle with his own shadows’: The beleaguered Edwardian male author in Oliver Onions’ ‘The Beckoning Fair One’. Literature and History, 26(2), 177-194. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306197317724665

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 20, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2017
Publication Date Nov 1, 2017
Journal Literature and History
Print ISSN 0306-1973
Electronic ISSN 2050-4594
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 2
Pages 177-194
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0306197317724665
Keywords ghosts, Edwardian, masculinity, femme fatale, hysteria, New Woman
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/878875
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1177/0306197317724665

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