May 22 2011: The Mark of the Beast by Sydney Watson (W.Nicholson & Sons, c.1931)

If you’re reading this post, it would appear the promised Apocalypse and Rapture scheduled for 6pm GMT on the 21st May failed to materialise (though doubtless a few swift recalculations will be being processed at fundamentalist churches as I type, and some rationale for this latest delay to the Second Coming will be wheeled out shortly: perhaps there were leaves on the line, or one of the Archangels failed to turn up at the office on Saturday morning). While I can’t say I’m entirely surprised, it’s something of a shame, as the morning of the day it was all supposed to happen was the very moment that brought Sydney Watson’s The Mark of the Beast into my possession, a novel published sometime in the early 1930s, and no doubt intended as a sign – though who it was directed at, I have no idea.

As you can read in the blurb below (click on the image to enlarge it) this is nothing less than a fictional account of the Tribulation, a period of 153 days’ rule by the Antichrist ahead of the Final Judgement. Had today gone to plan, this would have given me until October to draw what I could from Sydney Watson’s prose and prepare myself. Instead, this will now be a mere curiosity among all the others I own rather than an immediately useful volume. While I don’t know if the dates coincide with other scheduled Apocalypses, it’s also a novel that seems to have had several reprints over the years: editions from the early 1970s and mid-1980s are listed online, so perhaps it will come in useful another day. And let’s be honest: 153 days isn’t really that long. We’ve already had more than twice that of the Coalition.

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