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In a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu

In a Glass Darkly (1872)

by Sheridan Le Fanu

Other authors: Edward Ardizzone

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1042011,262 (3.78)1 / 101

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English (18)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is a collection of five stories - three short stories and two novellas, by this 19th century Irish author of supernatural and horror stories. The five stories are all linked as being supposedly papers from the collection of a scholar of paranormal phenomena, Dr Martin Hesselius. Of the five, by far the best is probably Le Fanu's most famous story, the vampire novella "Carmilla", a superb classic of horror literature and the most significant influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula and the horror film spin offs of the last century or so, containing all the tropes of vampire literature, i.e. the isolated castle somewhere in the middle of Europe, the extinct noble family with a dark secret, etc.

None of the other four stories are of the same standard, in my view. The other novella, "The Room in the Dragon Volant", about the adventures of an English milord in France in 1815 after Napoleon's fall, was rather long-winded, and indeed almost a full novel, consisting of 26 short chapters. It started off feeling a bit like a Conan Doyle Brigadier Gerard story and finished dramatically like an Edgar Allan Poe story, but meandered too much in between. The three short stories all featured people haunted to death by spectres, and all successfully built up an atmosphere of creeping dread, while lacking the majesty and rich atmosphere of "Carmilla". The best of these was probably "Mr Justice Harbottle", where an 18th judge is haunted to his death by the ghost of a man he wrongly convicted to the gallows. "The Familiar" was a similar haunting, though for a more ambiguous reason, while in "Green Tea", a man is haunted by a spectral monkey due to having drunk too much of the eponymous beverage, which allegedly unduly exposes the brain of the drinker to disembodied spirits (!). So, overall a mixed collection. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Dec 30, 2017 |
First things first, Wordsworth Classics is just the worst for evidently having zero editors on staff. They produce books cheaply, but it's because they seem to have pulled a free and poor-quality Project Gutenberg text and just printed it off in book form without even a cursory glance at whether their exclamation points have become the number "1" or if the "TH" in "the" has been read as a lower-case "B" somehow. It makes for a very frustrating read and I need to always remember this and never ever buy their books.

That major frustration aside, I chipped away at this book for quite awhile. I got through the first three stories mainly because I had a lot of time to kill in the repair shop lounge while getting our car ready for a cross-Canada trip that it never ended up taking. Then I skipped on to "Carmilla" because that was the real draw, and there I was not disappointed.

"Carmilla" deserves its fame and fascination. It persists as one of the greatest vampire stories, and that's after more than a century of imitations and derivations. I always meant to read it and wish I hadn't waited so long because it's such a maddeningly perfect Gothic tale. I knew about the "lesbian vampires" reputation before reading it, but that only made me expect it would be way more of an undertone. I thought I'd have to read pretty deeply into the text. I thought I'd have to rely on my knowledge of 19th-century inferences to sexual deviance. I didn't expect it to be as blatant, as passionate, as... endearing? I loved it.

I was also surprised at how much I liked "The Room in the Dragon Volant," which I read a bit later. I thought it would be work the way "Green Tea" or "The Familiar" was, but I ended up really enjoying the naive narrator, self-absorbed and utterly human for it, and even without a trace of the supernatural it was still the most shiver-inducing of all the stories in its climax.

I feel I've got to read [b:Uncle Silas|49190|Uncle Silas|Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1367864839s/49190.jpg|2847087] still, and then likely feel done with Le Fanu for the time being. Maybe in the lead-up to Hallowe'en next year. ( )
1 vote likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
Carmilla alone deserves a 5 star (incredible vampire story that inspired Bram Stoker). However, I felt the rest of the short stories were very repetitive. ( )
  hglotzbach | Jul 29, 2016 |
Not quite as thrilling as I'd expected. The Room in the Dragon Volant was my favourite story. A quick read if you like old school ghost and mystery tales. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
Excellent collection of five short stories! Comparable to O'Henry and Maupassant in quality. I like to refer to these stories as 19th century twilight zones. I especially liked "Mr Justice Harbottle" and "The Room of Dragon Volant", both of which had great turns at the end. The last story, Carmilla, also had a great twist, but was much more predictable (although still very suspenceful). ( )
1 vote MathMaverick | Dec 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sheridan Le Fanuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ardizzone, Edwardsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Breyer, ChrisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell-Notman, FinnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, PatrickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGrath, PatrickForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pritchett, V.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tracy, RobertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Though carefully educated in medicine and surgery, I have never practiced either.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Oxford World's Classics edition contains short stories: In a Glass Darkly, Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr Justice Harbottle, The Room in the Dragon Volant, Carmilla.
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Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Includes Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr Justice Harbottle, The Room in the Dragon Volant, Carmilla.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 185326265X, Paperback)

Wordsworth Classics covers a huge list of beloved works of literature in English and translations. This growing series is rigorously updated, with scholarly introductions and notes added to new titles.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:21 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A collection of tales of the supernatural, in which the patients of Dr. Heselius are plagued by malignant apparitions and vampires, or are drugged into a state of living death.

» see all 6 descriptions

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