Bennett, Arnold

Tagged: Author

(1867-1931) UK journalist and author whose more ambitious work – in particular the Five Towns novels, the best known of these being The Old Wives' Tale (1908) – made no use of the fantastic. In the 1890s some fantastical tales, and several book reviews, were published as by Sarah Volatile; the fiction was assembled with other work, as Arnold Bennett's Uncollected Short Stories 1892-1932 (coll 2010) edited by John Shapcott. Bennett was a friend and associate of H G Wells, and was long thought to be a writer of comparable stature. He published at least two novels of the supernatural. The opening chapters of The Ghost: A Fantasia on Modern Themes (1900 Hearth and Home as "For Love and Life"; 1907; vt The Ghost: A Modern Fantasy 1911), set in London, are narrated with some of the intensity of the Urban Fantasy, particularly when the Grand Babylon Hotel is described as an Edifice; the story itself, though it hints at a Trilby-like melodrama of mesmerism (see Hypnosis; George du Maurier; Music), refreshingly bestows genuine talent upon the young opera singer who enthrals all, and suggests that she will continue to sing after the Ghost is defeated and she has married the rich young doctor who narrates the tale. The Glimpse: An Adventure of the Soul (4 November 1909 New Age; much exp 1909) has some of the characteristics of the Posthumous Fantasy [for Edifice, Ghost Stories, Posthumous Fantasy and Urban Fantasy see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; the protagonist gains a vision of the entire cosmos before awakening from his not-quite death.

Of more direct sf interest is The Statue: A Story of International Intrigue and Mystery (1908) with Eden Phillpotts, in which a conspiracy involving an advanced radio (see Inventions), and the eponymous Robot-like work of apparent statuary, is roundly defeated. [JC]

Enoch Arnold Bennett

born Burslem, Staffordshire: 27 May 1867

died London: 27 March 1931

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