The Elixir of Lifeby William Harrison Ainsworth
Auriol, written 1844, is slightly unusual in the Ainsworth repertoire as the action is entirely couched as a fantasy, so that the supernatural element (which occurs also, for
Auriol: or, The Elixir of Life is a novel by British historical novelist William Harrison Ainsworth. It was first published in 1844 in serial form, under the title Revelations of London.
Auriol, written 1844, is slightly unusual in the Ainsworth repertoire as the action is entirely couched as a fantasy, so that the supernatural element (which occurs also, for instance, in his Guy Fawkes and his Windsor Castle) can take comparatively free rein. The story is accordingly a thoroughly gothic romance. It is in effect Ainsworth's contribution to the Faust genre. There is also a distinct connection with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in the kidnapping of girls theme, and in that the story concludes in the atmosphere of the lunatic's confinement (and possible recovery), and the villain of the story is his keeper. Indeed, the use of the phantasmagorical aspects of the story to create a nightmarish commentary on contemporary society of the 1830s and 1840s anticipates (in the early 19th century) the expressionism of Robert Wiene's Caligari. German interest in English literature of this period is also suggested in the works of Edward Bulwer Lytton (Rienzi and The Coming Race). Similarly it was John Gay and Dr Pepusch who provided the source-structure in The Beggar's Opera for Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera. There is an excellent and characteristic series of illustrations by 'Phiz'.
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