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THE DEEP ONES: "No. 252 Rue M. le Prince" by Ralph Adams Cram

The Weird Tradition

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Oct 5, 7:56pm Top

I'll read this in the Tartarus Press reprint of Black Spirits and White.

Edited: Oct 9, 3:28pm Top

A tale of devil worship without the devil worshippers! Not even the "King of the Sorcerers" Sar Torrevieja shows up in person. I expected that his corpse might at least be found in the smoking ruins at the end, but even that was not to be. I enjoyed the story, though. The haunted rooms were really intriguing and there was a fair amount of diabolic atmosphere. I also appreciated that la Bouche d’Enfer fittingly ends up in flames.

I have to wonder why Sar Torrevieja wasn't wanted for theft since he emptied the house of all it’s belongings.

The major, seemingly supernatural, event - the narrator's encounter with some kind of sinister entity during his living death, reminded me of David Gray's funeral and paralyzed encounter with the ancient life-draining crone in Dreyer's 1932 film, VAMPYR.

Oct 9, 5:35pm Top

>3 KentonSem: Like you I enjoyed the story but it was more atmosphere than sophisticated tale. Still, an interesting diversion with a sense of chill.

Oct 9, 7:01pm Top

I enjoyed this story as well. There is something about it though, I wasn't sure if I was imagining a slight hesitancy in the technique because I knew Cram wasn't a full time author, or if it was simply the air of artifice typical of a product of the fin de siéicle - that lack of sophistication noted in >4 pgmcc:, perhaps.

I don't know for what historical reasons the occult seems to have been more about satanism, than theosophy or spirit mediums in France, but it's present and correct here and forming an essential part of the atmosphere of the story.

The paralysing effect of the entity reminded me of Vampyr as well, although the text draws attention to (or owns up to?) a possible source of inspiration in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's "The Haunted and The Haunters".

Sar Torreviaja wouldn't be troubled by the authorities because he is "The old Spanish sorcerer to whom Mllle. de Tartas had left her personal property".

Presumably he conjured up the entity - no more motive required than that he is a bad man who wanted the house as well - but the ghostly Walpurgisnacht revellers reportedly heard in the empty house are left unexplained (or at least, I don't have an explanation).

Oct 9, 10:23pm Top

>5 housefulofpaper:

"The old Spanish sorcerer to whom Mllle. de Tartas had left her personal property".

Aha! Thanks.

I'll add "The Haunted and The Haunters" to the brainstorming thread.

Oct 10, 6:15am Top

By coincidence I am reading Eric Ambler's The Mask of Dimitrios. This has nothing to do with the Weird Tradition, other than the description of a house in Paris where two of the characters meet. It is located in an L-shaped cul de sac, and is one of three houses, two of which are deserted, in a terrace. I had the same sense reading about the approach to this house as when I was reading of the approach to la Bouche d’Enfer.

In addition, one of the rooms in the house was described as having been painted with deep blue distemper with gold stars sipersed across the ceiling and walls.

Edited: Oct 11, 5:47am Top

>3 KentonSem: - A tale of devil worship without the devil worshippers! Not even the "King of the Sorcerers" Sar Torrevieja shows up in person.
Yes, I was rather disappointed by the hares Cram started and did not follow up. Felt a little cheated.

About that naked woman looming over that room: I'm fairly sure I hadn't previously read this, but she rings bells--is she used in someone else's story, or perhaps an actual feature of late-Victorian Satanism, or a feature in some ancient religion, perhaps?*

ETA - * It's probably more likely that I've read it decades ago and forgotten.

Oct 12, 4:19pm Top

>8 alaudacorax:

I had a memory of a room decorated in the style of an ancient Egyptian burial chamber. The ceiling decorated as the night sky with the goddess Nut stretching naked across - from horizon to horizon, as it were. Is it Stoker's The Jewel of Seven Stars?

Edited: Oct 14, 9:14am Top

I enjoyed this one. It left a lot of unanswered questions but that's to be expected. It's just the narrator's one-time brush with the weird.

>5 housefulofpaper: I hadn't considered the possibility the "succubus" is conjured up by Sar.

>9 housefulofpaper: I also had a feeling of familiarity with the red woman, and I think you've nailed it. She is rather like Nuut.

I wonder if Cram, a spiritual man it seems, was making a point that evil can appear in simple surroundings. It's in the plain room that the narrator is threatened, not any of the bizarre rooms his companions keep watch in.

Incidentally, I see, from Cram's wiki entry, that I pass by one of his churches fairly frequently.

He's got to be the only author we've covered who has his own feast day.

Oct 14, 6:47pm Top

>10 RandyStafford:

I see, from Cram's wiki entry, that I pass by one of his churches fairly frequently.

It's a surprisingly satisfying thing when you find you have a connection to one of these stories, no matter how faint that connection might be. I've enjoyed the coincidence of the last three stories being set in Paris all the more for having been there (albeit I've only walked the short distance between the train stations Gare du Nord and Gare de L'est each time!)

Edited: Oct 14, 10:47pm Top

Nothing to add to these comments, I enjoyed the story but for whatever reason it didn't have the same pull as stories we've ready by E.F. Benson, or Lafcadio Hearn, or H. Russell Wakefield. Still, I'd be motivated to read another of his stories, and I have an eBook edition of Black Spirits and White ....

>10 RandyStafford:
>11 housefulofpaper:

As architecturally sensitive as Chicago is, I didn't recognise the name nor his very visible work on the Magnificent Mile, the Fourth Presbyterian Church. It is a satisfying thing to find a living link to my own world.

Edited: Oct 15, 11:08am Top

I liked this one, and I found the description of the voided ritual chambers especially satisfying.

I also thought it was kind of funny (but doubtless realistic) that the "couple of rake-hell fellows" who were Eugene's accomplices were medical men. It put me in mind of Machen's doctors.

Oct 15, 12:52pm Top

>13 paradoxosalpha:

...Eugene's accomplices were medical men.

Grave robbers the lot of them.

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