By Terence McKenna
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The Fleece, 1757) Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles, celebrated Thomas Savery’s steam pump with all the incongruous neoclassical conventions of personification and helpful nymphs. ” Nymphs! You erewhile on simmering cauldrons play’d And called delighted Savery to your aid; Bade round the youth explosive steam aspire, In gathering clouds, and winged the wave with fire; Bade with cold streams the quick expansion stop, And sunk the immense of vapour to a drop— Pressed by the ponderous air the Piston falls Resistless, sliding through its iron walls; Quick moves the balanced beam, of giant birch, Wields his large limbs, and nodding shakes the earth.
From it grew the mysterious giant haunting the doomed Castle of Otranto. qxd 16 7/7/2005 11:46 AM Page 16 Victorian Fantasy provided the inspiration for the first Gothic novel, since it is itself such an essentially literary creation. The Castle of Otranto is a story of memorable images and a brooding atmosphere which, nearly (but not quite) compensates for a plot of cardboard passion and intrigue that usually seems both boring and preposterous to a modern reader. In fact, the plot did not matter: the book had two elements that were to become staples of nineteenth-century fantasy: a dream-like atmosphere and a monster.
Doré rarely seems to show either the sense of symbolism or of sheer space that Martin does. Paradoxically, his views of London are far more mysterious and haunting than his conceptions of heaven and hell. Blake had to invent his own methods of color printing, and many of his plates were hand-colored. qxd 28 7/7/2005 11:50 AM Page 28 Victorian Fantasy improved by Thomas Lupton’s innovations which earned him the Isis Medal from the Society of Arts in 1822) had made possible a much higher quality of detail in mass production.