Faulconstein Forest

Faulconstein Forest. A Romantic Tale

Author: Unknown
Publisher: T. Hookham, Junior, and E. T. Hookham
Publication Year: 1810
Language: English
Book Dimensions: 12.3cm x 19cm
Pages: 176
University of Virginia Library Catalog Entry, Sadleir-Black Collection: PZ2.F384 1810



Material History

The full title of this text— Faulconstein Forest. A Romantic Tale.—appears on the spine of the book, the title page, and the half-title page. The author of this novel is never named anywhere within its pages. However, on the dedication, it is stated that this novel was “inscribed as a trifling memorial by his sincere friend.” This is the only time within the novel that the author is referenced. 

Additionally, before the story begins there are several interesting pages of this novel. There is an errata page, which is used to track publisher errors throughout the novel, and a page with a copyright notice. The copyright notice reads “Entered at Stationers’ Hall,” which meant that only this specific publisher could publish this book. The publisher of this novel is T. Hookham, Junior, and E. T. Hookham. When this book was published, the publisher and the printer were frequently two separate entities. There is a stamp on one of the pages after the title page that mentions the printer of this novel, reading Brettell & Co. Printers in London. 

The pages featuring the story have extremely large margins with the words written in a large font. Occasionally, there are letters, sonnets, and songs embedded in the story, and these are written in a slightly different, smaller font, distinguishing these pieces of the story from the majority of the prose. On some pages, there are letters at the bottom of the page that increase alphabetically throughout the novel; these letters are signatures used by the printer, indicating that this novel was printed on a few large sheets of paper and then folded and cut to produce the novel’s smaller form. 

This physical copy of Faulconstein Forest. A Romantic Tale is 12.3cm x 19cm with 176 pages total. Overall, this physical book looks very plain, with no illustrations and a very simple cover. The only distinguishing feature on the outside of this book is a small scrap of paper with the title of the novel that was glued onto the spine. Over time, parts of this glued-on portion have fallen off slightly but the title is still recognizable. This copy contains many different sizes of pages, due to the way that this book was printed. The smaller pages seem to have been better protected by the larger pages over the years, making them less brittle. The pages also have deckled edges, which means that the pages do not align perfectly and do not have straight edges. Frequently, a novel having deckled edges was a sign of trying to print it cheaply, as it cost more to have straight edges. This particular copy of this novel was made with thick, cardstock-like paper, that was sewn into the spine of the book. 

This copy has been well used, as evidenced by how yellowed, brittle, and splotched the pages are. It also has a handwritten signature on the inside of the front cover, most likely of the name of one of its previous owners. This copy of Faulcontsein Forest. A Romantic Tale has another handwritten note on the page before the title page that appears to read “published @ 6/6” or “G/G.” It is unclear what exactly this means or who put the markings there, but one possibility is that there were different iterations of this book and that it was a cataloging note.

Textual History

Faulconstein Forest. A Romantic Tale is a novel by an unknown author that was published in 1810 by T. Hookham, Junior, and E. T. Hookham in London. The University of Virginia’s edition has been microfilmed and is now available through many libraries. There are also online versions of Faulconstein Forest available on Google Books. Other libraries that own a copy—either digital or physical—are Yale University, Harvard University, John Hopkins University, University of Adelaide, University of Alberta, and the British Library Reference Collections. This novel was also, at one time, a part of the Library of the Royal Institution of Great Britain as evidenced by an 1821 catalog of this library where “Faulconstein Forest, a Romantic Tale, cr. 8vo. 1810” is listed under the category of “Romances, Novels, Fabulous Voyages, &c.” (Burney 245).

There are many contemporary reviews of Faulconstein Forest from the early nineteenth century. One review published in The Critical Review in June 1810 praises the novel and uses a very long extract from Faulconstein Forest to provide evidence for the reviewer’s praise and recommendations (“ART V”  157–63). Another review of this novel published in The Monthly Review in May of 1810 is more critical, arguing that the novel was published at a “somewhat undigested phase” (97). Although the reviewer registers these small critiques, the review is overall very favorable toward the novel, even noting that they are overlooking some of their critiques because of how much they enjoyed reading Faulconstein Forest. The timing these two reviews suggests that Faulconstein Forest was published in 1810 sometime before May. 

There were also some advertisements printed for Faulconstein Forest. One advertisement was printed in the book A Picture of Verdun, also published in 1810 by T. Hookham, Junior, and E. T. Hookham. Within A Picture of Verdun, the advertisement for Faulconstein Forest included a segment of the praise from the Monthly Review as well as a short poem. Another newspaper notice appeared on June 22, 1810, in The Morning Chronicle, in an advertisement for A Picture of Verdun that also included the same snippet about Faulconstein Forest from The Monthly Review

Since the nineteenth century, Faulconstein Forest has not featured centrally in studies of Gothic literature. This novel is catalogued in Montague Summers’s Gothic Bibliography, with the title, publisher, year of publishing, and the setting: “the scene Hungary” (321).

Narrative Point of View

Faulconstein Forest is narrated using a third-person point of view, with an omniscient, anonymous narrator who is never revealed in the text. This narrator relays the thoughts and feelings of the characters, as well as a great deal of description of physical settings and appearances. Additionally, there is a large amount of dialogue used in the text as a form of narration of what is going on in the novel, as well as what has happened in the past. The dialogue also allows the reader to see more clearly the thoughts and feelings of the characters who are speaking. 

Sample Passage of Third-Person Narration: 

Her blue eyes sparkled with affection as he lifted the ringlets, which almost hid them, and printed a kiss on her ivory forehead. She had never appeared to him so beautiful : her slender foot yet rested on a pedal of the instrument ; and though the robe, which shadowed her delicate limbs, fell over them in a thousand folds, the frame of the harp pressing against her, betrayed the Grecian symmetry of her form. (Faulconstein Forest 7)

Sample Passage of Dialogue: 

“O thou,” she cried, “who was once a suffering creature like myself, and though divinely pure, art endued with more than female softness, intercede for me before the throne of mercy ; strengthen me, that I may vanquish the fatal passion which would fill me with remorse : if I am too weak to resist its power, let me, while yet I may be ranked among the good, sink down beneath those spreading cypresses, and die.” (Faulconstein Forest 29)

Throughout the novel, the use of omniscient third-person narration helps to inform the reader of many different characters’ thoughts and opinions at once. In some scenarios, this technique creates dramatic irony. For example, the reader knows that Casimir loves Frederica and that he saved her, but she does not know this information yet. This contrasts with the use of dialogue as a type of dramatic narration that helps to make some scenes more personal, clarifying and externalizing how a character is thinking and feeling. This narrative combination paints a very clear picture both of what is happening in the story and also of the emotions within the story.

Summary

This book does not contain a list of characters, however these are the notable characters who appear within the plot:

  • Count Casimir Faulconstein: best friend to Leopold and brother of Ernestine
  • Ernestine Faulconstein: sister of Casimir and bride-to-be of Leopold
  • Leopold: a marquis, son of Princess Vedova, brother of Prince Vedova, and cousin to Queen Frederica
  • Queen Frederica: reigning monarch of Hungary
  • Prince Vedova: brother of Leopold 
  • Friuli: a previous tyrant, now monk working with Prince Vedova

The tale opens by describing a war between Hungary and Turkey, from the point of view of the Hungarians. Ernestine Faulconstein is in love with a man named Leopold, who Ernestine’s brother, Count Casimir Faulconstein, recently learned was the object of Queen Frederica’s desires. Casimir asks Ernestine to renounce her love for Leopold to help their country. If the Queen does not marry Leopold, a marquis, then she will be forced to marry his brother, Prince Vedova, who wants to usurp the Queen. Ernestine is unsure what to do, caught between her love for her country and her love for Leopold. She decides that she is unable to let go of her one true love and goes on a walk through the forest to clear her head. While on her walk she gets lost with a cold storm approaching, and eventually stumbles upon a convent. 

The story then switches to Leopold’s perspective and describes his status as a war hero who spends all of his free time longing for Ernestine. After he serves in the army, he decides to pay respects to his Queen before going to his bride. While meeting with the Queen he sees his good friend Casimir, who tells him that Ernestine has perished in the snow outside the convent. The two men go to Ernestine’s grave in the convent and Leopold grieves for his lost love. After finding out that Ernestine is gone, Leopold spends his time in the Palace with Queen Frederica, whose love for him continues to grow. While visiting the Count’s home, Leopold is haunted by Ernestine’s ghost. Although continuing to grieve over his lost love, Leopold begins to develop feelings for his cousin Frederica. Additionally, Count Faulconstein has very strong feelings for Frederica, but chooses not to say anything as to put his country before his desires. 

On Frederica’s birthday, there is a large party at her palace, where she is kidnapped by Prince Vedova. While on the kidnapper’s boat, Vedova and Federica lose an oar and are in perilous danger. Leopold happens to be walking by and tries but fails to save his Queen. Instead, Casimir saves Federica and realizes that he loves her. Federica feels very grateful towards Casimir for saving her life. After the Queen’s close encounter with death, Casimir decides that he will not see Frederica again until after she is married to Leopold. Unbeknownst to the Queen, Vedova survived the boating accident as well, and is planning to kill Leopold to marry her. Vedova, with the help of a corrupt monk Friuli, plans to poison Leopold’s wine while he visits Ernestine’s grave. The assassin in charge of the task is struck down and dies before he can deliver the poison to Leopold. While visiting Ernestine’s grave on the night of his intended death, Leopold sees the ghost of his deceased bride-to-be. She tells him that his brother is planning to kill him and to be safe. While disclosing this information, Leopold learns that Ernestine is alive. She explains that she had been close to death in the snow before being saved. She subsequently decided to fake her death so that Leopold would marry the Queen and save the fate of their country. 

Once Ernestine finishes telling Leopold her story, she runs from him into the monastery. Following her, Leopold is met with Vedova’s knife. Ernestine tries to protect her love and ends up being stabbed by Vedova as well. Casimir, who happens to be walking by the convent, sees what happens and chases after Vedova, eventually catching and killing him. Federica also hears what happens at the convent and proceeds to check on the wounded Ernestine. The Queen takes Ernestine back to her palace and with the luck of God, Ernestine lives. Federica and Ernestine become close friends, and the Queen explains that she is not jealous of the love between Leopold and Ernestine. Since Vedova is struck down, Federica no longer needs to immediately marry in order to protect Hungary. Ernestine and Leopold are engaged to be married. On the wedding day, the Queen learns of Casimir’s love for her but remains skeptical of him and his intentions. Yet during the wedding, Federica announces that she is going to be married to Casimir, much to his surprise and delight.


Bibliography

“Advertisements and Notices.” Morning Chronicle, issue 12829, 22 June 1810.

“ART. V.–Faulconstein Forest, a Romantic Tale, 1 Vol.” The Critical Review, Or, Annals of Literature, vol. 20, no. 2, 1810, pp. 157–63.  

Burney, Charles. A Catalogue of the Library of Royal Institution of Great Britain, second edition. 1821, www.babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433069143604&seq=7

Faulconstein Forest. A Romantic Tale. London, T. Hookham, Junior, and E. T. Hookham, 1810.

“The Monthly Catalogue.” The Monthly Review, London, May 1810, pp. 95–112, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=chi.79231604&seq=111&q1=faulconstein 

A Picture of Verdun, or the English detained in France: their arrestation, detention at Fontainbleau and Valenciennes, confinement at Verdun, incarceration at Bitsche … characters of General and Madame Wirion, list of those who have been permitted to leave or who have escaped out of France, occasional poetry, and anecdotes of the principal detenus. From the portfolio of a detenu, volume 2. London, T. Hookham, Junior, and E. T. Hookham, 1810, www.babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/ptid=mdp.39015064566964&seq=10&q1=faulconstein 

Summers, Montague. A Gothic Bibliography. New York, Russel & Russel, 1964.


Researcher: Jessica Mark


How to cite this page:

MLA: “Faulconstein Forest.” Project Gothic, University of Virginia, 2024, https://gothic.lib.virginia.edu/access-the-archive-2/faulconstein-forest/