In addition to discussing the implications of names in Persuasion, Barchas explores issues ranging from Austen's "promiscuity" in her borrowings across the political spectrum to ironies of geography in Northanger Abbey to the Hell-Fire Club
resonance of the name "Dashwood." In each of her explorations, she provides a wealth of painstakingly researched detail.
Sir, - In your edition of May 6, Mr Richard Edmonds reviewed a book about a notorious Hell-Fire Club
and commented that 'Within these strange rituals and initiation rites, there is scope for comparison with freemasonry.'
The Hell-Fire Club
is dispatched in three non-informative sentences.
It denounced <IR> COTTON MATHER </IR> for advocating vaccination against smallpox--Mather called the contributors to the Courant the <IR> HELL-FIRE CLUB
The Hell-Fire Clubs
: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies.
Ashe traces the allure of Rabelais' emancipatory fantasy through the Restoration into the 'hell-fire clubs
' of Georgian England, notably those associated early with the Duke of Wharton and later with Sir Francis Dashwood at Medmenham Abbey, near High Wycombe.
Geoffrey Ashe's account of the Hell-Fire clubs
is probably the nearest we come to the British equivalent of the excesses of the Marquis de Sade (and we have to remember that the inheritance of all this curiously dangerous playing with occult fire was passed on to Lord Byron - mad, bad and dangerous to know).