There is no necessity to invent fables nowadays - the fictionist need never torture his brain for stories either of adventure or spectral horror"
CORELLI, Marie. Wormwood London, Richard Bentley & Son,1890.
8vo. 3 vols. Original green cloth, embossed with miniature gilt serpent device to upper covers, title gilt to spine, with publishers red ribbon tags attached to front and rear covers, decorative endpapers with Richard Bentley monogram; a very good set of a rare work retaining some of the red ribbon still neatly attached to covers, a little occasional toning or light foxing as usual but nevertheless a superior copy.
First edition. A scandalous novel about drugs, sex and murder in which the protagonist Gaston Beauvais develops a destructive absinthe habit after his fiance cheats on him with his best friend. He proceeds to murder his friend and drive his ex-fiance to suicide, and the whole thing ends in tragedy,
As one of the most popular authors of the late Victorian/early Edwardian period, Marie Corelli took her responsibility as an author very seriously, which is why she dedicated the entire forward to explaining how "the morbidness of the French mind is well known," that "if a crime of more than the usual cold blooded atrocity is committed, it generally dates to Paris, or near it" and "if a book or a picture is produced that is confessedly obscene, the author is, in nine cases out of ten, discovered to be Parisian". Corelli blames this perceived lack of morals almost entirely on Absinthe [characterised as the villain of Wormwood] which was at the time the victim of a growing campaign against it, leading to its prohibition across France in 1914.
The title is derived from the main ingredient of absinthe, Grande Wormwood, which Corelli links to Revelation 3:11 - "And the name of the star is called Wormwood, and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they became bitter."