Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Mummies

Mummies provide a particularly striking imaginative link between present and past, and they are frequently invoked as key images in Timeslip fantasies and tales of Reincarnation. Early uses of the motif include the bizarre futuristic fantasy The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (1827) by Jane Loudun (1807-1858) and the ironic "Some Words with a Mummy" (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe. Théophile Gautier's The Romance of a Mummy (1856) and "The Mummy's Foot" (1863) are prime examples of the mummy's capacity to act as an imaginative stimulus. Reanimated mummies are, of course, a staple of cheap Horror Movies, but tales displaying a more earnest fascination, including tales of revivification which are more sentimentally than horrifically inclined, enjoyed a considerable vogue at the end of the 19th century. Notable examples include Pharaoh's Daughter (1889) by Edgar Lee, Iras: A Mystery (1896) by Theo Douglas (Mrs H D Everett), The Prince of Gravas (1898) by Alfred C Fleckenstein, An Egyptian Coquette (1898) by Clive Holland (1866-1959) and The Mummy and Miss Nitocris (fixup 1906) by George Griffith (1857-1906). Griffith's The Romance of Golden Star (1897) features a rare South American mummy, while Nitocris is revived again in Nile Gold (1929) by John Knittel (1891-1970), the best of the Egyptian Revenant tales. The romantic spirit of these works is echoed in Anne Rice's The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned (1989), but "Nofrit" (1947) by Eliot Crawshay-Williams treats the theme with an ironic suspicion. The 1890s mummy boom was roundly sent up at the time by C J Cutcliffe Hyne (1866-1944) in "The Mummy of Thompson-Pratt" (1904), but it also extended to offbeat melodramas like "The Ring of Thoth" (1890) and "Lot No. 249" (1892) by Arthur Conan Doyle and the confused and ultimately self-contradictory Pharos the Egyptian (1899) by Guy Boothby (1867-1905). Sax Rohmer's mummy stories – of which the best is The Brood of the Witch-Queen (1918) – are thrillers of a similar stripe. Algernon Blackwood's "The Nemesis of Fire" (1908), in which a mummy is linked to a fire Elemental, is more interesting than the work which presumably inspired it, Bram Stoker's incoherent The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903). Most recent works that feature mummies are horror, but The Third Grave (1981) by David Case and Cities of the Dead (1988) by Michael Paine are among those which also warrant consideration as fantasy. Two theme anthologies are Mummy! (anth 1980) ed Bill Pronzini and Mummy Stories (anth 1990) ed Martin H Greenberg. [BS]

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.