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Geistergeschichten. by Joseph Sheridan Le…
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Geistergeschichten.

by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (Author)

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191991,532 (4)None
From "Schalken the Painter" "There exists, at this moment, in good preservation a remarkable work of Schalken's. The curious management of its lights constitutes, as usual in his pieces, the chief apparent merit of the picture. I say APPARENT, for in its subject, and not in its handling, however exquisite, consists its real value. The picture represents the interior of what might be a chamber in some antique religious building; and its foreground is occupied by a female figure, in a species of white robe, part of which is arranged so as to form a veil. The dress, however, is not that of any religious order. In her hand the figure bears a lamp, by which alone her figure and face are illuminated; and her features wear such an arch smile, as well becomes a pretty woman when practicing some prankish roguery; in the background, and, excepting where the dim red light of an expiring fire serves to define the form, in total shadow, stands the figure of a man dressed in the old Flemish fashion, in an attitude of alarm, his hand being placed upon the hilt of his sword, which he appears to be in the act of drawing. . . ."In addition to M. R. James, several other writers have expressed strong admiration for Le Fanu's fiction. E. F. Benson stated that Le Fanu's stories "Green Tea", "The Familiar", and "Mr. Justice Harbottle" "are instinct with an awfulness which custom cannot stale, and this quality is due, as in The Turn of the Screw, to Le Fanu's admirably artistic methods in setting and narration". Benson added, " Le Fanu's] best work is of the first rank, while as a 'flesh-creeper' he is unrivalled. No one else has so sure a touch in mixing the mysterious atmosphere in which horror darkly breeds".… (more)
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Title:Geistergeschichten.
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Geistergeschichten. by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

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Le Fanu is, or ought to be, as great and influential a dark fantasy writer as H. P. Lovecraft and I regret that the circumstances of my reading kept me from making ratings and reviews for each individual tale. Oh, well, I must admit that this is easier.

I can arrange his stuff into three broad categories. First of all, there are his mystery stories. "The Evil Guest" is a mystery with a very obvious solution, readable in spite of the hackneyed plot and the irritating melodramatic dialogue because of the considerable psychological insight shown by the author. "A Chapter in the House of a Tyrone Family" is so much like Jane Eyre that I checked up on the publication dates to see who plagiarized whose plot. (Charlotte Bronte, for shame!) "The Murdered Cousin" can be read as a first draft for his famous novel "Uncle Silas," but I think that the shorter story, about a helpless girl in the power of a smooth phony and his ruffian son, is more effective, as a mystery and a horror story.

I and others regard Le Fanu as a near genius for his ghost stories, including "Green Tea," "Mr. Justice Harbottle," "The Familiar," "Schalken the Painter," "The Haunted Baronet," "Madam Crowl's Ghost," "Squire Toby's Will," and of course "Carmilla," arguably the finest literary vampire story written. I find his stories so effective because he describes better than anyone else I've read what the psychological experience of being haunted or targeted by a vampire feels like.

He also towards the end of his life wrote many good stories based on Irish folklore. These included tales of children or women led astray, not only from virtue but from reality in a physical sense, by that supernatural race who seem to co-exist with humans in the Irish countryside. I couldn't help but compare these stories to Tana French's "In the Woods," which I read in the same month and also concerned children who vanished into the Irish countryside. I also shuddered again over "Sir Dominick's Bargain," the most terrifying account of a Faustian bargain that I've read.

The book closes on a large number of pulp stories that read as if they were written early in Le Fanu's career for, although entertaining, they lack his mature virtues. I was shocked at the end to find "What Was It?" presented as a Le Fanu tale. That is not true; it is a work by Fitz-James O'Brien, it was in "American Supernatural Tales" which I read and annotated earlier this year. After a blunder that that, I had to wonder if any of the rest of the crap at the end had been written by him. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Nov 23, 2014 |
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From "Schalken the Painter" "There exists, at this moment, in good preservation a remarkable work of Schalken's. The curious management of its lights constitutes, as usual in his pieces, the chief apparent merit of the picture. I say APPARENT, for in its subject, and not in its handling, however exquisite, consists its real value. The picture represents the interior of what might be a chamber in some antique religious building; and its foreground is occupied by a female figure, in a species of white robe, part of which is arranged so as to form a veil. The dress, however, is not that of any religious order. In her hand the figure bears a lamp, by which alone her figure and face are illuminated; and her features wear such an arch smile, as well becomes a pretty woman when practicing some prankish roguery; in the background, and, excepting where the dim red light of an expiring fire serves to define the form, in total shadow, stands the figure of a man dressed in the old Flemish fashion, in an attitude of alarm, his hand being placed upon the hilt of his sword, which he appears to be in the act of drawing. . . ."In addition to M. R. James, several other writers have expressed strong admiration for Le Fanu's fiction. E. F. Benson stated that Le Fanu's stories "Green Tea", "The Familiar", and "Mr. Justice Harbottle" "are instinct with an awfulness which custom cannot stale, and this quality is due, as in The Turn of the Screw, to Le Fanu's admirably artistic methods in setting and narration". Benson added, " Le Fanu's] best work is of the first rank, while as a 'flesh-creeper' he is unrivalled. No one else has so sure a touch in mixing the mysterious atmosphere in which horror darkly breeds".

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