About This Edition

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Alroy, Edited by Sheila A. Spector

About This Edition

The Editor

Sheila A. Spector, recipient of the Carl H. Pforzheimer, Jr. Research Grant, awarded by the Keats-Shelley Association of America, is an independent scholar who has devoted her professional career to exploring the intersection between the British and Jewish cultures, primarily during the Romantic Period. She has approached the subject in a number of ways: bibliographically, compiling Jewish Mysticism: An Annotated Bibliography on the Kabbalah in English; critically, writing a two-part study of Blake as a Kabbalist—“Glorious incomprehensible”: The Development of Blake’s Kabbalistic Language, and “Wonders Divine”: The Development of Blake’s Kabbalistic Myth; and collaboratively, collecting two volumes of original essays by major scholars—British Romanticism and the Jews: History, Culture, Literature, and The Jews and British Romanticism: Politics, Religion, Culture.

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The commonplace of modern publishing—that a book requires an already-existing audience before it will be accepted for publication—has proved poignantly true with Alroy. Certainly after September 11, 2001, if not before, I had assumed that publication would be a snap: this is a novel about a failed Jewish messiah who lived in the Middle East during the period between the first two crusades; it contains a multi-cultural cast of Jewish, Muslim and Christian characters; it was written by a future British prime minister who, not coincidentally, would be instrumental in the purchase of the Suez Canal. Yet, lack of interest has been palpable. Because the book has never been made accessible to the modern audience, it has never been read, and consequently, it has been erroneously relegated to the position of a minor novel by a minor novelist, thus ignoring its deeper significance, not only literary but historical, not only political but cultural. Therefore, my acknowledgments to those who have helped make this edition an internet reality are especially heartfelt and sincere. In my research, I have received assistance from Michael Bott, Keeper of Archives and Manuscripts at the Library of the University of Reading, as well as the staffs at the libraries of Emory University, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and the University of California at Berkeley. Daniel E. Spector and Reeva Spector Simon both advised me about lacunae of Middle East Studies; Patrick W. Conner assisted with the Latin translation; Kathryn F. Hilt and Susan M. Hunter helped with editorial problems; Janice Peritz and Dorothy Graham contributed suggestions for publication. Gilad J. Gevaryahu provided information used in the annotations, and Nanora Sweet, who used the manuscript for a text in her course on Oriental Literature, shared with me her own and her students' responses to the edition. Also, I would like to thank the following for permitting me to reprint their work: Thompson-Gale for Richard A. Levine, Benjamin Disraeli (New York: Twayne, 1968), 51-7; the University of California Press for selections of Robert OKells “The Autobiographical Nature of Disraelis Early Fiction,” originally published in Nineteenth-Century Fiction 31 (1976): 262-66; John Vincent for Disraeli (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 67-70; 90-2; Daniel R. Schwarz for his Disraeli’s Fiction, (New York: Macmillan, 1979), 42-51, as well as his “‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin: Jewish Perspectives in Disraelis Fiction,” in Disraeli’s Jewishness, ed. Todd M. Endelman and Tony Kushner (London and Portland, Or.: Vallentine Mitchell, 2002), 44-9; and Nadia Valman, for her “Manly Jews: Disraeli, Jewishness and Gender,” in Disraeli’s Jewishness, ed. Todd M. Endelman and Tony Kushner (London and Portland, Or.: Vallentine Mitchell, 2002), 72-5. Most important, I would like to thank Neil Fraistat and Steven E. Jones, General Editors of Romantic Circles, for agreeing to include Alroy among their electronic editions, and most especially Joseph Byrne, Site Manager at Romantic Circles, for his diligence in reproducing such a complex edition. Finally, it is customary to conclude most sections like these with a nod to anyone inadvertently omitted. Unfortunately, my computer crashed immediately before publication, sending off into cyberspace the full list of those whose assistance made this edition possible. Therefore, to those who have not been mentioned, I offer a special thanks for all they did to help with the publication of this book. The strengths of this internet edition derive from the full collaboration of all of the contributors; its weaknesses are mine.

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The Text

The Wondrous tale of Alroy along with The Rise of Iskander, was first published by Saunders and Otley in 1833; “A new edition” was issued in 1834. Two more editions were published during Disraelis lifetime. In 1846, under the title Alroy, Colburn issued a heavily revised edition, containing a preface dated July 1845. The 1871 edition, that is included along with Ixion in Heaven, The Infernal Marriage, and Popanilla, as volume 8 of the Longmans collected edition, is based on the edited version of 1846.

The choice of a copy text is always problematic, there being equally strong reasons for believing that the earliest version of a work is closest to an author's original intention, and that the last—especially when carefully supervised by the author—reflects the evolution of intellectual and cultural attitudes; needless to say, both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. While I have chosen the 1871 edition as having the imprimatur of the mature Disraeli, I have also included in this edition a transcript of the original Dedication to his sister, and polemical Preface, to indicate his youthful attitude towards the novel (and possibly his sister), as well as possible reasons for excising what he might have deemed as potentially troublesome sections right when he was planning a major political campaign.

This is a diplomatic edition of the 1871 Longmans, the last overseen by Disraeli. With the exception of a few obvious typographical errors, which have been silently corrected, I have reproduced all factual errors and misquotations found in the text and Author's Notes, reserving all substantive corrections and bibliographical information for the Editor's Notes at the end. In order to differentiate between the Author's and Editors Notes, I have retained Disraelis own numbering system for the former, and indicated the editor's annotations with asterisks.

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The Design

This hypertext edition was designed and marked up at the University of Maryland by Joseph Byrne , Site Manager at Romantic Circles. Making extensive use of tables and style sheets for layout and presentation, it will work best when viewed with Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator versions 5.0 and 4.7, respectively, and higher. The HTML markup is HTML 4.01/Transitional compliant, as set out by the World Wide Web Consortium.

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Published @ RC

January 2005