Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Disraeli, Benjamin

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(1804-1881) UK statesman and writer, created the first Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876 during his second term in office as Prime Minister. Most of his fiction, beginning with Vivian Grey (1826-1827), takes a satirical or reformist attitude to UK society; and his stories of the fantastic tend similarly to be understandable primarily as commentaries on contemporary events. The Voyage of Captain Popanilla (1828) is a Fantastic Voyage in the mode of Jonathan Swift, though in the opposite direction: the eponymous captain travels to England and finds it remarkably surreal; the existing version constitutes BD's rewriting of his first novel, «The Adventures of Mr Aylmer Papillon in a Terra Incognita», which he had sent in 1824 to the publisher John Murray, who burned it (Murray also burnt Byron's journal). The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, and The Rise of Iskander (1833; vt Alroy: A Romance 1846) is a Fantasy of History in which Alroy, a Prince of the Captivity (i.e., a descendant of King David), founds a world-dominating kingdom centred in 12th-century Baghdad. Ixion in Heaven (1832-1833 Colburn's New Monthly; 1925 chap) and The Infernal Marriage (1833-1834 Colburn's New Monthly; 1929 chap) both appeared in various collections, including Alroy; Ixion in Heaven; The Infernal Marriage; Popanilla (coll 1845) and Ixion; The Infernal Marriage; Popanilla; Count Alarcos (coll 1853). The two tales are Satires of contemporary England set in the world of the ancient Greek Myths. The "infernal marriage" of the second is that of Proserpine to the King of Hell; the grim fate of Ixion – a treacherous monarch who is bound to a wheel of fire in Hell because he boasted of having slept with Hera – is treated by BD, fairly lightly, as an analogue of the treatment meted out to himself as a Jew attempting a political career in 19th-century Europe. [JC]

other works: The Tragedy of Count Alarcos (1839), a narrative poem; Tales and Sketches by the Right Hon. Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (coll 1891), including several fantasies; Alroy; Popanilla; Count Alarcos; Ixion in Heaven (coll 1906); Popanilla, and Other Tales (coll 1926); The Dunciad of To-Day: A Satire; and The Modern Aesop (1826 The Star Chamber; 1928 chap) (see Aesopian Fantasy).

Benjamin Disraeli


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.