THE ISLE OF FEMININE. Charles Elliot Niswonger.

THE ISLE OF FEMININE. Little Rock, [Arkansas]: Press of Brown Printing Company, [1893]. Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi-vii [viii] [9] 10-160, original decorated cloth. front cover stamped in gold and blind, spine panel stamped in gold, rear cover stamped in blind. First edition. A brief and curious fantasy which weaves together threads from the occult romance or wisdom quest; the shipwreck/desert island/lost race yarn; and the utopian/dystopian dialectic, with a feminist twist. Most critics have misunderstood the tale. A shipwreck victim, Andrew Lowe, is marooned on an unknown island ruled by Diana, an immortal queen with occult powers. (Diana was the Roman counterpart of the virgin Greek goddess, Artemis.) Diana's subjects are descended from an ancient people of unknown origin who were shipwrecked on the island 3,500 years ago. With the help of a sage, Diana has mastered the occult lore contained in a scroll in the possession of her people, including the power of bestowing immortal life or death (she can also revive the dead). The only immortals are the queen and seven princesses. The remainder of her subjects are servants and slaves. Lowe, the only outsider to visit the island during Diana's reign, is well received by the queen, who values his knowledge of the outside world and his teachings about Christianity (some aspects of which are prefigured by the ancient scroll). Diana makes Lowe the first prince of the island kingdom and grants him immortality. Lowe falls in love with Vesta, the youngest princess, who is horrified by his proposal. (The cult of Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth, was served by the Vestal Virgins.) "[R]ecall those dreadful words. Knowest thou not that the great secret of perpetual life is the total absence of passionate love between the sexes?" Under Diana's reign, the island, has been transformed from a rough wilderness into a "paradise of beauty." Diana is converted to Christianity and decides she would like to be like the son of God and rule her subjects by love. However, she has a vision in which she finds the "tree of life" (which she has been seeking in vain for centuries) and sees Jesus who "shall pluck for me the golden fruit." Diana makes Lowe the king of the island and charges him to rule her people "with justice and mercy." She takes the journey across the dark river to be at His side. Unfortunately, when her power is gone, only Lowe and Vesta, both recently made immortal, survive. The other immortals shrivel and die. The remaining islanders go berserk and Lowe, the "serpent in Eden," and Vesta flee the island in his boat. The island is destroyed when volcanic gases are ignited by a lamp made by Lowe to penetrate the darkness of a deep cavern where the islanders disposed of their dead. Clareson, Science Fiction in America, 1870s-1930s 597. Roemer, The Obsolete Necessity, p. 195. Sargent, British and American Utopian Literature, 1516-1985, p. 99. Teitler 925. Bleiler (1978), p. 148. Reginald 10697. Wright (III) 3971. Not in Lewis or Negley. A tight, bright, nearly fine copy. Rare. This copy is from the Stuart Teitler collection of lost race fiction. (#151781).

Price: $1,250.00

See more items by
Printing identification statement for this book:
No statement of printing.