Marie Corelli's first novel, published in 1886.
A Romance of Two Worlds is an Urban Fantasy that doubles as a religious treatise on Corelli's form of spirituality — more or less a blend of Christianity and mysticism or spiritualism (she dismissed the Spooky Séance type as nonsense, though). Some New Age believers promote it as a partly- or mostly-factual account and it was certainly taken seriously by the Rosicrucians and some Theosophists. Corelli's unnamed Author Avatar is afflicted with debilitating depression and anxiety. She takes a sabbatical in Cannes to try to lift her spirits. Here, she encounters an Italian artist named Raffaello Cellini, who seems to possess some bizarre power that is gradually improving her health. Cellini refers to her to a mysterious man named Heliobas for further treatment, which begins her journey into finding the truth about the nature of life, God, and the heavens.
Hint: It involves lots of electricity.
Marie Corelli was a Christian mystic/spiritualist and the author of many other Victorian fantasy-romances. Her stories often had strong Aesops about the hypocrisy of society, unfairness towards women, and cold rationality without compassion or spirituality. She believed in universal health care and women's right to vote. She was either a Lesbian or had a very strong Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with her housemate Bertha Vyver. She wrote of drug addiction in Wormwood, illegitimacy in Innocent and adapted the Faust legend in The Sorrows of Satan, which was made into a film. She was a friend of Ouida.
This Work Contains Examples Of:
- Author Avatar: Say, Marie Corelli was a short blonde half-Italian improvisational pianist, too. Another reason some people take much of the book as an autobiography — plus the Introduction is written by the narrator, and people may mistake it as being by the author. May or may not have been deliberate on her part.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Prince Ivan, who's in love with Zara and determined to marry her. Unfortunately, she's "engaged" to her twin soul, who is in the spirit world and just waiting for her to get there.
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Even after being killed by Zara when he tries to give her a Forceful Kiss and being brought back to life by Heliobas using spiritual electricity, Prince Ivan still doesn't believe in it?
- He-Man Woman Hater: Heliobas, to some extent. He thinks women and sex are a distraction from work, spiritual and otherwise. He also believes that most women care only for pretty clothes and just want to be healthy so they can look nice and be admired. He gadflies the narrator with this attitude when they first meet, earning him one hell of a Did You Think I Can't Feel? rant. His own twin flame up in heaven gets frustrated with his arrogance and sends him a message through the narrator.
- Informed Attribute: Heliobas' kindness. He usually comes off as a bit of a Jerkass along with being a Deadpan Snarker.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: Electricity is the key to the future, and to the nature of God and creation.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: None of the main characters' twin flames exist on Earth in the story, so they all remain single in a corporeal sense. When Prince Ivan tries to kiss Zara, he gets zapped by her electric jewel and she tells Heliobas that he tried to rape her. There's still plenty of hugging and kissing, but only between the narrator and Zara.
- Older Than They Look: Zara, who looks 17 but is really 38.
- Red String of Fate: According to Corelli's doctrine, every soul is destined to be with one other and him or her only. Any other relationship is doomed to fail. If your twin soul happens to be dead, you'll only reunite with them in the afterlife, so you're pretty much stuck being asexual here on Earth.
- This was believed by some Rosicrucians, adapted into Theosophy and evolved into New Age beliefs in Twin Flames or Twin Rays, but it goes all the way back to Plato's Symposium and Sufi sacred texts, and there are hints of it in Judaism note and Transcendentalism. Your twin flame, twin ray or mirror soul is the other half of you — you'll merge together and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (like Decker and Ilia) when your incarnations are complete; your soulmate is important throughout many lifetimes and will always remain close to you, but is a separate person. Zara and the narrator are probably soulmates.
- Science Marches On: Suffers badly from this. The novel tries to assert that the moon doesn't exist but is really an elaborate hologram and that Jupiter and Saturn are inhabited by advanced humanoid races. And electricity really cannot do everything. In a later novel, Corelli tried to visualize atomic energy this way.
- Women Are Delicate:
- The narrator, in her rant to Heliobas, asserts that this is true, but just because women are unable to accomplish what men do doesn't mean they don't aspire to greatness.
- Heliobas then inverts the trope, claiming that most women are actually not delicate, citing the Alpha Bitch, Fat Girl / Obsessed with Food, Gossipy Hens, Malicious Slanderers (who all have "thin lips and pointed noses"), The Scrooge, The Ditz, and otherwise refined, educated women who recite stuff with Double Entendre and Unfortunate Implications.note While Heliobas is meant to be a wise sage Corelli obviously doesn't want us to see him as perfect. She was also a William Shakespeare scholar and couldn't avoid knowing all that that implies.