Introduced by John Updike and published in America for the first time, The Haunted Major recounts a golf match of epic proportions between adversaries. In this uproarious tale about human conceit and the supernatural, Major the Honorable John William Wentworth Gore, an English gentleman of sublime self-esteem, challenges crack golfer Jim Lindsay to a game for the chance to propose marriage to Mrs. Gunter, a beautiful American millionairess. Although "Jacky" Core, the narrator, alleges to be a marvelously accomplished sportsman, he has never set foot on a fairway and has only seven days to learn to pitch, putt, and drive the course like a veteran.
To prepare for the match, which is to take place on the fictitious St. Magnus links in Scotland (based on the Old Course at St. Andrews), Gore secretly hires a coach and transforms his hotel room into a golf studio, outfitted with turf, a moveable hillock, a bunker, and specially padded walls to absorb drives. Gore is set to win or lose like a gentleman when the revengeful ghost of a Scottish cardinal with some odd-shaped clubs materializes, adding an otherworldly twist to the story.
This new edition, with John Updike's spirited introduction and Harry Furniss's humorous original illustrations, fixes The Haunted Major in the uppermost tier of sports classics.
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ROBERT MARSHALL (1863-1910) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He attended the universities at St. Andrews and Edinburgh and then joined the Duke of Wellington's cavalry regiment, attaining the rank of captain. After his retirement in 1898, he made a name for himself as a playwright and novelist, publishing The Alabaster Staircase, The Lady of Leeds, and Shades of Night, among other works.From Kirkus Reviews:
This 1902 novel by a little-known Scots writer (18631910) makes a first US appearance in a new edition garnished with the lively original illustrations (by artist Harry Furniss) and an appreciative send-off by John Updike, who in his introduction calls it a curious amalgam of religious history, Edwardian foppery, and golfing madness.'' Just so, for this tale of spiritual possession and social comeuppance feels much like a lost work by P.G. Wodehousewho expressed admiration for Marshall's odd little masterpiece. The narrator and principal character is Major (of Hussars) John Gore, a supremely egotistical fellow and a self-renowned sportsman. When the widower Gore resolves to marry, handsome Katherine Clavering Gunter is discovered to be an ``ardent golfer''and, furthermore, the apparent cynosure of the annoyingly keen eye of championship golfer Jim Lindsay. Our hero thus subdues his contempt for a ``sport'' that offers no physical risk (and which he has never played) and challenges the affable Lindsay to a match whose prize will be the unobstructed path to Mrs. Gunter's hand. Gore's expertise at manly games like polo proves irrelevant (as his exasperated caddy observes, ``Ye'll no hae a hoarse to help ye at goalf''), and all seems lost . . . until the ghost of a Scots prelate, Cardinal Smeaton, offers supernatural aidthe unassuming Lindsay being, as the Cardinal confides, a descendant ``o` ane of my maist determined foes.'' The great match at St. Magnus is described in suitably mock-heroic accents; Gore vacillates suspensefully between employing the Cardinal's ``bewitched clubs'' and his own minimal skills; and the story concludes ridiculously well for all concerned, leading to an ingenious (triple) surprise ending. A most enjoyable rediscovery in the ``sporting'' tradition that extends back to the pre-Dickensian Jorrock's Jaunts and Jollities. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Jul 30, 1999, 1999. Book Condition: New. HC 1st edition / 1st printing. FINE in Fine wraps (dust jacket.) Cover as shown. As new. Bookseller Inventory # 05281408
Book Description Ecco, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0880016698