The Quest for Unusual & Adventurous International Notations & Tales (QUAINT), presented by Jess Nevins, is an ongoing series featuring historical literary examples from pulp and speculative fiction. All of the entries are abbreviated excerpts from the World Fantasy Award-nominated book The Encyclopedia for Fantastic Victoriana. They are re-published here with special permission from Jess Nevins and may not be re-posted elsewhere, though people are free to link back to the original link on Beyond Victoriana.
Entries selected for the QUAINT series focus on the Victorian era and Victorian era-related portrayals of the non-West and non-Western peoples in fantastical fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, historical novels, dime novels, penny dreadfuls, and story papers. As the series progresses, exclusive preview entries from Jess Nevin’s upcoming Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes will also be featured here.
All featured material is researched and written by Jess Nevins and has been edited for length. The purpose of this series can be best described in Jess’ own words from Fantastic Victoriana‘s Introduction:
I could have written dry plot analyses and dispassionate character descriptions, but books like Bleiler’s and the Trouser Press Record Guide are always the most fun when the authors laud the worthy and savage the vile, and that is what I have tried to do.
This book is prescriptive rather than descriptive. I’m attempting to be both critic (and explain why a book or story is good or bad) and reviewer (and explain why you should or shouldn’t read it). Like any critic, I have biases. My tastes are idiosyncratic and perhaps not always defensible (for example, I think Stanley Weyman is a better writer of historical novels than Sir Walter Scott). I couldn’t write otherwise and haven’t bothered to try.
Jess’ entertaining, insightful, and informative critical analysis has been a boon to my research for Beyond Victoriana. The non-West and marginalized peoples in Western literature have been written about in a myriad of ways by writers during the Victorian era, and Jess’ mindful eye refuses to be blind to the prejudices of the period. Research like his is invaluable to understanding the history of how the cultural and racial Other has been portrayed. Moreover, his inclusion of writers outside of Europe provides a side-by-side comparison that is informative to expert and general audiences alike. It is with great honor and excitement that he’s agreed to support this blog with this feature.
The full listing of this series is below. We’re temporarily on hiatus, until Fall of 2012, when we’ll be premiering excerpts from Jess’s upcoming Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes.
#1 Raphael Aben-Ezra from Rev. Charles Kingsley’s Hypatia
#2 Buena Rejon from “The Mexican Ranchero” by Charles E. Averill
#3 Hawkeye from The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
#4 Kala Persad from “The Divinations of Kala Persad” by Francis Edward Grainger
#5 Ayesha from She: A History of Adventure and other Novels by H. Rider Haggard
#6 Hajji Baba from “Hajji Baba of Ispahan” & “Hajji Baba in England” by James Morier
#7 “A Question of Reciprocity” by Robert Duncan Milne
#8 Tokeah from the White Rose by “Charles Sealsfield” aka Karl Anton Postl
#9 Jigong (“Crazy Ji”) from Jigong Drum Song & other tales
#10 Cahina from “A Royal Enchantress” by Leo Charles Dessar
#11 Salome da Costa from “The Story of Salome” by Amelia B. Edwards
#12 Lady Jaguar, the Robber Queen by William H. Manning
#13 Hagar of the Pawnshop, The Gypsy Detective by Fergus Hume
#14 The Land of Agartha from “Mission de l’Inde en Europe, Mission de l’Europe en Asie” by Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves
#15 Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert
#16 Vathek: An Arabian Tale by William Beckford
#17 “The Doomswoman” by Gertrude Atherton
#18 Assowaum from “The Regulators of Arkansas” by Friedrich Gerstäcker
#19 Roots of the Yellow Peril, Part I
#20 Roots of the Yellow Peril, Part II
#21 The Lost Race Story
#22 “Les Xipéhuz” (The Shapes) by J.H. Rosny
#23 The Hellenes in “Gobi or Shamo: A Story of Three Songs” by G.G.A. Murray
#24 Sufrah, Geomancer by Marcel Schwob
#25 Pedro Arbuez d’Espila in “The Torture of Hope” by Villiers de l’Isle Adam
#26 He Yufeng from “The Gallant Maid” by “Yanbei Xianren” (a.k.a. Wen K’ang)
#27 Arbaces from “The Last Days of Pompeii” by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
#28 A PARISIAN SULTANA by Adolphe Belot
#29 The Engine from A MEXICAN MYSTERY by W. Grove
#31 Don Q, Created by Kate and Hesketh Prichard