A Drama of Paris
  • Publication Date: April 8, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551114194 / 1551114194
  • 407 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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A Drama of Paris

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2004
  • ISBN: 9781551114194 / 1551114194
  • 407 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Though disparaged by literary critics of her day, Marie Corelli was one of the most popular novelists of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. Wormwood (1890) is a lurid tale of unrequited love, betrayal, vengeance, murder, suicide, and addiction. The novel recounts the degeneration of Gaston Beauvais, a promising young Parisian man who, betrayed by his fiancée and his best friend, falls prey to the seductive powers of absinthe. The impact of Gaston’s debauchery and addiction on himself, his family, and his friends is graphically recounted in this important contribution to the literature of fin de siècle decadence.

This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and a generous selection of contextualizing documents, including excerpts from Corelli’s writings on art and literature, nineteenth-century degeneration theories, and clinical and artistic views on absinthe.


“Marie Corelli’s novels are breathtakingly inventive, often defiant interjections in the late-Victorian literary scene, one-of-a-kind mixtures of romance, decadence, aestheticism, naturalism, and the New Woman fiction. This Broadview edition of Wormwood, Corelli’s attack on Paris absintheurs, provides an able introduction to the author’s life, helpful glosses on Corelli’s creative use of many French words and phrases, and extensive background on bohemian Paris, British francophobia, and contemporary controversies surrounding naturalism and degeneration theory. The appendices contextualize the novel’s fascination with addiction and art, passion and pathology. This edition is the most thorough and responsible treatment of Corelli’s work to date.” — Annette R. Federico, James Madison University

“This edition makes Wormwood, arguably Marie Corelli’s most controversial novel, available once again. Kirsten MacLeod’s astutely selected appendices, including materials about degeneration theory and naturalism, translations of cited French poems and songs, contemporary reviews, and epistolary extracts conveying Corelli’s aesthetic philosophy, serve well to culturally contextualize this work, making this edition the obvious choice.” — Carol Margaret Davison, University of Windsor

“Yahoo! I’m so glad you’re publishing Corelli! The most unique collection of rare texts on the planet! Thanks!” — Curt Herr, Kutztown University

Marie Corelli: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
Corelli’s Introductory Note

Wormwood: A Drama of Paris

Appendix A: Translations of French Poems and Songs in Wormwood

  1. Charles Cros, “L’Archet” (1873)
  2. Anonymous, “Le Pauvre Clerc”

Appendix B: Letters from Corelli to George Bentley about Wormwood

Appendix C: Reviews of Wormwood

  1. From The Athenaeum (15 November 1890)
  2. From the Pall Mall Gazette (27 November 1890)
  3. From The Graphic (29 November 1890)
  4. From The Academy (29 November 1890)
  5. From Kensington Society, qtd. in Academy (13 December 1890)
  6. From Literary World (17 January 1891)
  7. From The Times (23 January 1891)
  8. From The Spectator (28 February 1891)
  9. From County Gentlewoman, qtd. in Academy
    (11 July 1891)
  10. From Kent Carr, Miss Marie Corelli (1901)

Appendix D: Corelli on Literature and Art

  1. Letter to George Bentley, 11 March 1877
  2. Letter to George Bentley, 6 April 1877
  3. From “‘Imaginary Love’” (1905)
  4. From “The ‘Strong’ Book of the Ishbosheth” (1905)

Appendix E: British Views of Naturalism

  1. From W.S. Lilly, “The New Naturalism” (1885)
  2. From H. Rider Haggard, “About Fiction” (1887)
  3. From the National Vigilance Association, Pernicious Literature (1889)

Appendix F: Nineteenth-Century Degeneration Theories

  1. From E. Ray Lankester, Degeneration: A Chapter in Darwinism (1880)
  2. From Gina Lombroso-Ferrero, Criminal Man (1911)

Appendix G: Clinical and Artistic Views of Absinthe

  1. Findings of Dr. Legrand, The Times (4 May 1869)
  2. From the New York Times (12 December 1880)
  3. Charles Cros, “Lendemain” (1873)
  4. Arthur Symons, “The Absinthe-Drinker” (1892)
  5. Ernest Dowson, “Absinthia Taetra” (1899)

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Kristen MacLeod specializes in the British and American fin de siècle and modernist literary culture.