Friday, 29 May 1992

Dodo's Progress

Fiction ~ short story
First published in Lady's Realm, May 1897, as The Progress of Princess Waldeneck*
Collected in Desirable Residences and Other Stories (1991)
Approx. 5,100 words
(First read 29/05/1992) 

"Pull yourself together, woman!"
This story picks up exactly where the previous one, The Return of Dodo (1896), ended.  The day after her triumphant relaunch into London Society, Dodo goes to see her old pal Edith to try and make friends again.  During their interview Her Dodiness has a genuine moment of weakness: she breaks down in tears ('hopeless, desolating sobs', in fact) and tells Edie about the state of her horrible marriage to Prince Waldeneck.  Dodo and Edith are reconciled ~ well, whoop-di-doo.

As I said in my write-up for The Return of Dodo, I suspect EFB may have had a serialization in mind when he produced these two stories.  The fact that Lady's Realm left a gap of six months between the first and the second suggests that they weren't keen on the idea ~ if indeed it was an idea.  As far as I know, Dodo's next outing was the first sequel novel Dodo the Second (1914), so Fred may have realized that the whole world in fact wasn't itching to know what happened to his creation next.

* Why the editor of Desirable Residences felt he needed to change the title is anyone's guess. 

Dodo explains to Edith why it was she was swept away from marrying Jack at the end of Dodo: A Detail of the Day:
'I was blind, deaf, dumb: I could not, I was morally incapable of resisting.  If Waldeneck had told me to throw myself out of the window instead of coming to Paris with him, I should have done it.  I might have begged for a minute to put on my hat, but I should have done it.  He is strong ~ good heavens! he is strong.  You don't understand what that means ~ to find someone stronger than yourself, and who can beat down resistance as an iron bar can beat down a weaker thing.'
Yeah, whatever, Dodes.
[Mr Anthony Hope Hawkins, whose somewhat laboured attempt in a recent lecture to draw a clear distinction between a romance and a novel was not very successful, intends to produce a sequel to his romantic novel The Prisoner of Zenda. It is to be hoped that he will not afford such] an object-lesson of the dangers of 'continuations' as Mr E. F. Benson has lately offered us with regard to Dodo.
~The Morning Post, 20/05/1897

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