British Fiction, 18001829

OLLIER, Charles. Inesilla (1824)

Contemporary Reviews

La Belle Assemblée, n.s. 29 (Mar 1824): 125.

All who recollect the delightful story of ‘Altham and his Wife,’ by Charles Ollier, will rejoice in the announcement of another volume from the same pen, under the title of ‘Inesilla, or the Tempter, a Romance; with other Tales.’ Altogether there are four tales in the volume. The first, from which it takes its title, is based on the supernatural; and, though wild and terrific, is rich and fanciful, beautiful and interesting, in an extraordinary degree. ‘The Convict,’ another of the stories, is written in a style of the humblest simplicity; yet, like the homely sketches of Crabbe, it finds its way to the inmost recesses of the heart: it is deeply, painfully affecting. Why does not the author expatiate in a wider field?

Monthly Review, 2nd ser. 103 (Mar 1824): 329–30.

We could find much cause both for praise and blame in the wild and fantastic but at the same time powerful story of Inesilla. As a work of imagination and strong feeling, it possesses very considerable merit, but in point of composition and good taste it is [329/330] very deficient. It is a terrific spectral tale, full of the most extraordinary horrors, and quite unfit even for a sober-minded person to read immediately before he retires to his pillow; recording the history of two young lovers, tormented by a sort of wandering Jewess, who some centuries before had received the boon of perpetual beauty, on the condition of seducing her own descendants to evil. The story itself has clearly nothing very edifying, nor is the mode in which it is treated altogether unexceptionable. Should Mr. Ollier add a little more coloring to some of his pictures, they would certainly attract the eyes of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, who are no friends to gentlemen with warm imaginations.

We feel very strongly inclined, also, to expostulate with Mr. Ollier on the style which he has chosen to adopt, and which to us is peculiarly unpleasing. There is an affectation of novel phrases in it which destroys the simplicity of the narrative. What are we to understand by such images as the following?

‘She looked into her lover’s face, and with a low murmuring voice like the faint edge of a calm wave, which wanders not breaks amongst the pebbles, she said ––’

Notwithstanding these faults, many beauties in the volume attest that it is the production of a man of ability.

Notes: Mistakenly listed under ‘Monthly Catalogue: Poetry’. Format: 12mo; price 7s. Boards. Publisher: Lloyd & Son.

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