Auriol: or, the elixir of life

Auriol; Or, the Elixir of Life (Dodo Press) - William Harrison Ainsworth Read this in the "edition de Luxe" with illustrations by Phiz. The subtitle of this novel is "The Elixir of Life", and it is suitably Faustian/Wandering Jew-ish. The ending is almost Shelleyishly peculiar and unsatifactory (I am thinking of P.B. Shelley's youthful Gothic novels, of course, not Mary Shelley's masterpiece). Auriol is restored to his own century and the situation seems to be as it was in the first chapter - excpet that we are given to understand that this is all a (literally) devilish trick, and that he is, in fact, still in the nineteenth century where he has just delivered up yet another woman he loves to death-in-life. The volume closes with two short pieces - a rather tedious evocation of Christmas-time and description of an "old London merchant"; and a fairly effective "night's adventure in Rome" which is strangely reminiscent of - or anticipatory of, I suppose - James' Daisy Miller or (even more) Hawthorne's Marble Faun, though much more melodramatic than either. Ainsworth is a curiously uneven writer - some things he does veyr well, but you get the feeling he's doing them by imitation. [These notes made in 1983:]