The Necromancer (Karl-Friedrich Kahlert)

41-wXQVve2L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Onward with the Northanger 7. The cover credit for “Peter Teuthold” conceals not one but two pseudonymous individuals, those being its translator Peter Will and its original author, “Lawrence Flammenburg”, who was known to his parents as Karl-Friedrich Kahlert. To complicate things, “Teuthold” also wrote an entirely new concluding section for the book (the art of translation in 1794 was not quite what it is today, clearly) which Kahlert liked so much he appropriated it himself for a revised new edition a few years later… Anyway, The Necromancer is evidently the only one of the Northanger 7 to have had much of a life on its own after its original publication (the others being essentially forgotten for over a century afterwards); at the time there was a kind of vogue in England for German literature, which fed into the burgeoning Gothic publishing boom. Castle of Wolfenbach had kind of posed as a “German” story, but this was the real thing; in it, two old friends meet after decades away from each other and relate their adventures, which share the common element of the titular necromancer, Volkert; the rest of the book is taken up with a manuscript one gives the other that expands upon the mystery of this individual. The Necromancer apparently has a reputation for being difficult to follow, but I think that’s overstated; if the plot is undeniably loose and not always exactly linear, I never had any difficulty keeping track of where I was in it, and Kahlert is perhaps overly pedantic in making sure loose ends are tied up. Quite enjoyed this, even if it didn’t have the courage to actually go for the proper supernatural (I thought your Schauerroman was supposed to be less afraid of that sort of thing than Mrs Radcliffe and her followers)…

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