Friday, December 7, 2018

New fantasy and dime novels

Monroe St. Press' two newest vintage titles are the fantasy novel The Wood Beyond the World and the Civil War dime novel The Border Spy

The Wood Beyond the World (1894) by William Morris was written in a style reminiscent of medieval romances. It was among the first modern novels to blend an imaginary world with elements of the supernatural, and influenced later writers such as Lord Dunsany, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. 

Morris (1834-1896) was a British novelist, poet, artist, textile designer and social activist who was part of the Pre-Raphaelite circle and exerted significant influence on the culture of Victorian England. He helped revive traditional textile arts as well as interest in ancient and medieval epic tales. 

Morris' best known literary works include The Defence of Guinevere and Other Poems (1858), an early example of Pre-Raphaelite poetry; The Saga of Gunnlaug Worm-Tongue (1869), a translation of an Icelandic myth; News from Nowhere (1890), his utopian vision of a kinder, gentler and more pastoral 21st-century London; and The Well at the World's End (1896), a fantasy-adventure epic with some parallels to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Turning to American literature, The Border Spy; or, The Beautiful Captive of the Rebel Camp (1863) by Lt. Col. Hazeltine is a Civil War dime novel written during the war by a veteran of the conflict, and was among the earliest dime novel titles released by Sinclair Tousey's American News Company.  

The book depicts Union Gen. John C. Fremont's campaign to drive Confederate forces from southwest Missouri, culminating in the First Battle of Springfield (Mo.) in 1861. 

The author is not clearly identified, but may have been a Col. Harry Hazelton of the Benton Cadets, Missouri Infantry, who served in the campaign depicted in this book and its sequel, The Prisoner of the Mill. Some later editions of Prisoner are attributed to Hazelton. Both books combine historical figures and details of real-life military actions with a popular, dramatic dime novel storyline. 

Both titles are available through the Monroe St. Press website. 

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