A Strange Story — Volume 01
108 Pages
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A Strange Story — Volume 01

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The Project Gutenberg EBook A Strange Story, by E. B. Lytton, Volume 1. #120 in our series by Edward Bulwer-LyttonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: A Strange Story, Volume 1.Author: Edward Bulwer-LyttonRelease Date: March 2005 [EBook #7692] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on April 22, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STRANGE STORY, LYTTON, V1 ***This eBook was produced by Andrew Heath and David Widger, widger@cecomet.netA STRANGE STORYby Edward Bulwer Lytton (Lord Lytton)PREFACE.Of the many illustrious thinkers whom the schools of France have ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook A Strange Story, byE. B. Lytton, Volume 1. #120 in our series byEdward Bulwer-LyttonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****Title: A Strange Story, Volume 1.
Author: Edward Bulwer-LyttonRelease Date: March 2005 [EBook #7692] [Yes,we are more than one year ahead of schedule][This file was first posted on April 22, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK STRANGE STORY, LYTTON, V1***This eBook was produced by Andrew Heath andDavid Widger, widger@cecomet.netA STRANGE STORYby Edward Bulwer Lytton (Lord Lytton)PREFACE.
Of the many illustrious thinkers whom the schoolsof France have contributed to the intellectualphilosophy of our age, Victor Cousin, the mostaccomplished, assigns to Maine de Biran the rankof the most original.In the successive developments of his own mind,Maine de Biran may, indeed, be said to representthe change that has been silently at workthroughout the general mind of Europe since theclose of the last century. He begins his career ofphilosopher with blind faith in Condillac andMaterialism. As an intellect severely conscientiousin the pursuit of truth expands amidst theperplexities it revolves, phenomena which cannotbe accounted for by Condillac's sensuous theoriesopen to his eye. To the first rudimentary life ofman, the animal life, "characterized byimpressions, appetites, movements, organic intheir origin and ruled by the Law of Necessity," [1]he is compelled to add, "the second, or human life,from which Free-will and Self-consciousnessemerge." He thus arrives at the union of mind andmatter; but still a something is wanted,—some keyto the marvels which neither of these conditions ofvital being suffices to explain. And at last the grandself-completing Thinker attains to the Third Life ofMan in Man's Soul."There are not," says this philosopher, towardsthe close of his last and loftiest work,—"thereare not only two principles opposed to eachother in Man,—there are three. For there arein him three lives and three orders of faculties.
Though all should be in accord and in harmonybetween the sensitive and the active facultieswhich constitute Man, there would still be anature superior, a third life which would not besatisfied; which would make felt (ferait sentir)the truth that there is another happiness,another wisdom, another perfection, at onceabove the greatest human happiness, abovethe highest wisdom, or intellectual and moralperfection of which the human being issusceptible." [2]Now, as Philosophy and Romance both take theirorigin in the Principle of Wonder, so in the "StrangeStory" submitted to the Public it will be seen thatRomance, through the freest exercise of its wildestvagaries, conducts its bewildered hero towards thesame goal to which Philosophy leads its luminousStudent, through far grander portents of Nature,far higher visions of Supernatural Power, thanFable can yield to Fancy. That goal is defined inthese noble words:—"The relations (rapports) which exist betweenthe elements and the products of the threelives of Man are the subjects of meditation, thefairest and finest, but also the most difficult.The Stoic Philosophy shows us all which canbe most elevated in active life; but it makesabstraction of the animal nature, andabsolutely fails to recognize all which belongsto the life of the spirit. Its practical morality isbeyond the forces of humanity. Christianityalone embraces the whole Man. It dissimulates
none of the sides of his nature, and avails itselfof his miseries and his weakness in order toconduct him to his end in showing him all thewant that he has of a succor more exalted." [3]In the passages thus quoted, I imply one of theobjects for which this tale has been written; and Icite them, with a wish to acknowledge one of thosepriceless obligations which writings the lightest andmost fantastic often incur to reasoners the mostserious and profound.But I here construct a romance which should have,as a romance, some interest for the generalreader. I do not elaborate a treatise submitted tothe logic of sages. And it is only when "in fairyfiction drest" that Romance gives admission to"truths severe."I venture to assume that none will question myprivilege to avail myself of the marvellous agencieswhich have ever been at the legitimate commandof the fabulist.To the highest form of romantic narrative, the Epic,critics, indeed, have declared that a supernaturalmachinery is indispensable. That the Drama hasavailed itself of the same license as the Epic, itwould be unnecessary to say to the countrymen ofShakspeare, or to the generation that is yetstudying the enigmas of Goethe's "Faust." ProseRomance has immemorially asserted, no less thanthe Epic or the Drama, its heritage in the Realm ofthe Marvellous. The interest which attaches to the
supernatural is sought in the earliest ProseRomance which modern times take from theancient, and which, perhaps, had its origin in thelost Novels of Miletus; [4] and the right to invokesuch interest has, ever since, been maintained byRomance through all varieties of form and fancy,—from the majestic epopee of "Telemaque" to thegraceful fantasies of "Undine," or the mightymockeries of "Gulliver's Travels" down to suchcomparatively commonplace elements of wonderas yet preserve from oblivion "The Castle ofOtranto" and "The Old English Baron."Now, to my mind, the true reason why asupernatural agency is indispensable to theconception of the Epic, is that the Epic is thehighest and the completest form in which Art canexpress either Man or Nature, and that withoutsome gleams of the supernatural, Man is not mannor Nature, nature.It is said, by a writer to whom an eminentphilosophical critic justly applies the epithets of"pious and profound:" [5]"Is it unreasonable to confess that we believein God, not by reason of the Nature whichconceals Him, but by reason of theSupernatural in Man which alone reveals andproves Him to exist?… Man reveals God: forMan, by his intelligence, rises above Nature;and in virtue of this intelligence is conscious ofhimself as a power not only independent of,but opposed to, Nature, and capable of
resisting, conquering, and controlling her."[6]If the meaning involved in the argument, of which Ihave here made but scanty extracts, be carefullystudied, I think that we shall find deeper reasonsthan the critics who dictated canons of taste to thelast century discovered,—why the supernatural isindispensable to the Epic, and why it is allowable toall works of imagination, in which Art looks onNature with Man's inner sense of a somethingbeyond and above her.But the Writer who, whether in verse or prose,would avail himself of such sources of pity or terroras flow from the Marvellous, can only attain hisobject in proportion as the wonders he narrates areof a kind to excite the curiosity of the age headdresses.In the brains of our time, the faculty of Causation isvery markedly developed. People nowadays do notdelight in the Marvellous according to the oldchildlike spirit. They say in one breath, "Veryextraordinary!" and in the next breath ask, "How doyou account for it?" If the Author of this work haspresumed to borrow from science some elementsof interest for Romance, he ventures to hope thatno thoughtful reader—and certainly no true son ofscience—will be disposed to reproach him. In fact,such illustrations from the masters of Thoughtwere essential to the completion of the purposewhich pervades the work.That purpose, I trust, will develop itself in
That purpose, I trust, will develop itself inproportion as the story approaches the close; andwhatever may appear violent or melodramatic inthe catastrophe, will, perhaps, be found, by areader capable of perceiving the various symbolicalmeanings conveyed in the story, essential to theend in which those meanings converge, andtowards which the incidents that give them thecharacter and interest of of fiction, have beenplanned and directed from the commencement.Of course, according to the most obvious principlesof art, the narrator of a fiction must be asthoroughly in earnest as if he were the narrator offacts. One could not tell the most extravagantfairy-tale so as to rouse and sustain the attentionof the most infantine listener, if the tale were toldas if the taleteller did not believe in it. But when thereader lays down this "Strange Story," perhaps hewill detect, through all the haze of romance, theoutlines of these images suggested to his reason:Firstly, the image of sensuous, soulless Nature,such as the Materialist had conceived it; secondly,the image of Intellect, obstinately separating all itsinquiries from the belief in the spiritual essence anddestiny of man, and incurring all kinds of perplexityand resorting to all kinds of visionary speculationbefore it settles at last into the simple faith whichunites the philosopher and the infant; and thirdly,the image of the erring but pure-thoughtedvisionary, seeking over-much on this earth toseparate soul from mind, till innocence itself is ledastray by a phantom, and reason is lost in thespace between earth and the stars. Whether inthese pictures there be any truth worth the
implying, every reader must judge for himself; andif he doubt or deny that there be any such truth,still, in the process of thought which the doubt ordenial enforces, he may chance on a truth which itpleases himself to discover."Most of the Fables of AEsop,"—thus saysMontaigne in his charming essay "Of Books"[7]—"have several senses and meanings, ofwhich the Mythologists choose some one thattallies with the fable. But for the most part 't isonly what presents itself at the first view, and issuperficial; there being others more lively,essential, and internal, into which they had notbeen able to penetrate; and"—adds Montaigne—"the case is the very same with me."[1] OEuvres inedites de Maine de Biran, vol. i. Seeintroduction.[2] OEuvres inedites de Maine de Biran, vol. iii. p.546 (Anthropologie).[3] OEuvres inedites de Maine de Biran, vol. iii. p.524.[4] "The Golden Ass" of Apuleius.[5] Sir William Hamilton: Lectures on Metaphysics,p. 40.[6] Jacobi: Von der Gottlichen Dingen; Werke, p.424-426.[7] Translation, 1776, Yol. ii. p. 103.