on 5 November 2013
I have read this one for a course I have been doing on Gothic Literature and it is, so far, my favourite text to date. The story features the fantastic Victoria, who is the real protagonist of the novel (Zofloya, the eponymous character, not making an appearance until the last 100 pages). Victoria is everything a hero should be (I say hero, because she is very manly in the way she takes control of her situation - in fact, there is not much of the typical early 19th Century heroine about her). Indeed, it could be argued that she really doesn't need to sell her soul to Zofloya at all as she is perfectly determined and capable enough of achieving her own ends through her own stubborn will. There is something so wonderful about her - she is so resolute and determined. In contrast to her, there is her rather weak-willed brother, Leonardo, reduced to becoming a would-be assassin and leader of banditti, and at the mercy of another resolute strong woman, Megalena.
This is a fantastic story. Zofloya, or the devil made flesh, is undeniably sexy as Dacre renders him and there is no denying the attraction which Victoria feels for him, almost simultaneously with the fear he invokes within her. His supernatural nature is subtly rendered for the reader - filling Victoria's chamber with silvery mist just before he materialises at the end of her bed and all those mysterious appearances and disappearances, just when he is wanted most.
Not to be missed - I'd never heard of this book before the course but would definitely recommend it for any one who is interested in Gothic or 19th Century literature.
I particularly liked the Broadview Literary Texts edition as it had a great piece on Nyphomania at the end which informed Dacre's work, some fantastic contemporaneous reviews (it was largely slated which just goes to show what critics know!) and a fabulous example of a gothic chapbook which completely plagiarises the work. Definitely worth the extra expense for this edition.