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In a Glass Darkly (1872)

by Sheridan Le Fanu

Other authors: Edward Ardizzone

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,3072212,416 (3.77)1 / 107
This remarkable collection of stories, first published in 1872, includes Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr. Justice Harbottle, The Room in the Dragon Volant, and Carmilla. The five stories are purported to be cases by Dr. Hesselius, a 'metaphysical' doctor, who is willing to consider the ghosts both as real and as hallucinatory obsessions. The reader's doubtful anxiety mimics that of the protagonist, and each story thus creates that atmoshphere of mystery which is the supernatural experience. This new annotated edition includes an introduction, notes on the text, and explanatory notes.… (more)
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 Gothic Literature: Reading Group #6: 'Green Tea'42 unread / 42frahealee, December 2018

» See also 107 mentions

English (21)  Swedish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This was wonderful. I enjoyed how each story has a different take on the supernatural occurrences. Some have “scientific” explanations, on the fence between hallucinations and actual spirits. One story only seems to be supernatural to advance the plot. And then, of course, Carmilla is firmly a supernatural story. Spoiler- it’s the best one in this collection. It’s a great example of suspense where the reader knows but the characters don’t. I dropped it down a star for “The Room in the Dragon Volant,” which is not as interesting, is too long and has a clunky and too sudden conclusion ( )
  psalva | Nov 1, 2022 |
Arguably the first great ghost story collection in the Western canon. There is one weaker entry, The Room in the Dragon Volant which is really a gothic mystery not a ghost story, albeit a pretty good one. The chump protagonist Beckett is a classic example of being led by the dick, Victorian sensibilities aside.

Carmilla is the first great vampire story, not to mention having a strong lesbian theme that somehow sneaked right by Victorian censors. Green Tea and The Familiar, the latter a story of supernatural revenge, are still chilling after 150 years. The Familiar is somewhat weakened by Le Fanu giving away the revenge motivation in a postscript.

Harbottle is fine although its edge has been blunted by the billion similar ghost stories that have come after it. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Five supernatural (or are they?) tales from Le Fanu, the best of which, is the longest; The Room in the Dragon Volant, an amusing historical romance set in a politically unstable France, complete with mysterious beautiful woman in distress, gentleman hero, mysterious circumstances, oriental magic, conspiracy, secrets and jealousies. This story is eclipsed in fame by the last, Carmilla, despite it really being not as good; that's what feeding Victorians with such sensations as lesbian vampires will do! The story builds a tremendous mood of Goffick mystery and horror only to blow it with the denouement which has no tension at all. Such a waste.

The other stories are less memorable but not bad and I would suggest that any fan of the Goffick or supernatural really needs to read this collection. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
I enjoyed these subtly creepy tales. ( )
  charlie68 | Jan 9, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 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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Epigraph
Dedication
TO
BRINSLEY HOMAN, ESQ.
THESE VOLUMES ARE INSCRIBED,
WITH MUCH AFFECTION,
BY HIS OLD FRIEND

THE AUTHOR.
First words
Though carefully educated in medicine and surgery, I have never practiced either.
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(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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Wikipedia in English (3)

This remarkable collection of stories, first published in 1872, includes Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr. Justice Harbottle, The Room in the Dragon Volant, and Carmilla. The five stories are purported to be cases by Dr. Hesselius, a 'metaphysical' doctor, who is willing to consider the ghosts both as real and as hallucinatory obsessions. The reader's doubtful anxiety mimics that of the protagonist, and each story thus creates that atmoshphere of mystery which is the supernatural experience. This new annotated edition includes an introduction, notes on the text, and explanatory notes.

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