Some Reviews of The Lost Stradivarius

The Lost Stradivarius has long been regarded as one of the few really successful ghostly novels: spectres have always seemed to achieve their effects best in the short story form…

…It seems to be simply a well-told tale of a young, wealthy baronet dilettante (Sir John Maltravers) who becomes possessed by a force of evil which manifests itself through a piece of music, a violin, a portrait, and an Italian villa, all of them associated with an eighteenth-century hellfire rake, Adrian Temple. We witness Maltravers’ degeneration from a healthy, open-hearted, intelligent English landowner to a dissolute, dishonest and morbid obsessive…

…though the novel appears to be about possession, it is really about fear of transcendence, the leap from the known and rational world into the realms of mystical ecstasy…The Lost Stradivarius is the work of a man who recognised the vital attraction of a fierce, freethinking and forbidden faith, but was appreciative too of the stricter, steadier qualities of the old-established order.

…the author may be on the side of the angels, but perhaps some of them are fallen.

Mark Valentine in his introduction to

The Lost Stradivarius with A Midsummer Night’s Marriage and Charalampia

(Tartarus Press, 2000 ISBN 1 87262155 4)

The Lost Stradivarius ….set in Oxford and Naples in the 1840s…is a story of visitation from the dead and of occult possession by a violin and by a piece of seventeenth-century music, a Gagliarda. True to its genre, the ghost story, it first and foremost arouses a pleasurable terror. It is, however, constructed within a neo-Platonic metaphysical framework by which is examined on the one hand the nature and significance of psychical and occult experience, and on the other the relationship between beauty and morality – all preoccupations of the decade of its publication.

Edward Wilson in his introduction to

The Lost Stradivarius

(The World’s Classics, Oxford University Press, 1991 ISBN 0 19 282848 7)

A Gaslight etext of The Lost Stradivarius