HAGGARD, H. Rider. Stella Fregelius. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1904.
8vo. Original dark blue cloth, stamped in gilt to upper cover; pp. x, 361, [2, ads]; a very good copy with minimal scuffing, and some small water marks to the top edge.
First UK edition.
Haggard's epic tale of brooding romance and inevitable tragedy bears all the mandatory elements of English romance - a man who has just invented the telephone (or aerophone), an entirely avoidable death at sea, an unhappy marriage, and lots of uncomfortable subtext. The protagonist, Morris, is enchanted by the emotionally insubstantial Stella, but cannot marry her due to complicated personal reasons - a.k.a. money. Alas, she immediately and inconveniently dies after he tells her this in a series of unlikely events where a church collapses into the sea as Stella wanders about like a headless chicken. Morris goes on to marry his actual betrothed, and then starts trying to conjure Stella's spirit, forgoing food and sleep until he dies of exhaustion. There is undoubtedly a moral to this story, somewhere.