London: Richard Bentley. 1886. [Strange Tale] New Edition, being Bentley's second single-volume edition. Octavo (19 x 13cm), pp.viii; 456. Contemporary blue half calf over marbled sides, edges and endpapers, full gilt back. Internally very clean, engraved bookplate of Chesterfield House (a grand townhouse in Mayfair built by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield), neatly rebacked with original spine laid down. A very good copy of a scarce edition. Part mystery, part history, The House by the Churchyard begins with a prologue in the voice of an old man, Charles de Cresseron, that is set in Chapelizod, Ireland, roughly a century after the events of the novel proper. This prologue details how, during an interment at the churchyard of the title, a skull is accidentally unearthed, which bears the marks of two crushing blows to the head and – even more disconcertingly – a small hole from a trepanning. The novel itself is Cresseron's reconstruction of the history related to this grisly item. Apart from the fact that as a novel it is charming, funny and sinister by turns, it is also described as a key source for Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. Item #52903
HUBIN: Crime Fiction IV.
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