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The Virgin of the Seven Daggers (1955)

by Vernon Lee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1372203,137 (3.43)9
I entered the church...It struck me suddenly that all this crowd of men and women standing all round, these priests chanting and moving about the altar, were dead... Vernon Lee was a polymath whose copious writings include deeply learned studies of art, music, literature, and history, but also a small but exquisitely crafted group of Gothic tales, most of which first appeared in fin de siècle periodicals including the iconic Yellow Book. In these stories of obsession and possession, transgressive desire reaches out from the past -- through a haunting portrait, a murdered poet's lock of hair, the uncanny voice of a diabolical castrato -- dragging Lee's protagonists to their doom. Among those haunted by Lee's 'spurious ghosts' was Henry James, who praised her 'gruesome, graceful...ingenious tales, full of imagination'. This new edition includes Lee's landmark 1890 collection Hauntings complete, along with six additional tales and the 1880 essay 'Faustus and Helena', in which Lee probes the elusive nature of the supernatural as a 'vital...fluctuating...potent' force that resists definite representation. Aaron Worth's contextual introduction, drawing upon Lee's newly published letters, reassesses her place in the pantheon of the fantastic. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.… (more)
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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
"These are supernatural horror stories full of things that cause obsessions."
read more at: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/virgin-of-seven-daggers-vernon-lee... ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Aug 15, 2012 |
The British Victorian author Violet Paget (1856–1935) was considered an authority on Italian Renaissance art and aesthetics, along with Walter Pater and John Addington Symonds. She was born in France to English parents, and spent most of her life in Italy, living in Florence for many years. Using the pseudonym Vernon Lee, she published a number of works on aesthetics, such as Euphorion: Being Studies of the Antique and the Mediaeval in the Renaissance and Renaissance Fancies And Studies Being A Sequel To Euphorion.

Beside this body of non-fiction and essays on art and travel, she published several novellas and short story collections of ghost stories and supernatural fiction. The Virgin of the Seven Daggers. Excursions into fantasy, published by Penguin Books in 2011 is a representative selection from her fiction.

The first in the collection is Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady, which originally appeared in 1895. This is a rather long (60 pp.) brooding story about a young prince who becomes obsessed by a mermaid or snake-like woman featured on a tapestry in his room. His obsession eventually drives him insane. Most stories are set in Italy and feature ghosts or out-of-body experiences. The last story in the collection, The Virgin of the Seven Daggers is set in Spain.

Most stories have a slow start, and do not really become interesting until in the final pages. However, the twist at the end is in most cases surprising and original, though not very frightening. The scene of most of the stories is very Italianate. Descriptions are very elaborate, and some turns of the authorial voice in the stories seemed to suggest that the stories were written to be read aloud to the family. Perhaps, these stories could best be enjoyed as an audio-book. ( )
2 vote edwinbcn | May 4, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee, VernonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Worth, AaronIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worth, AaronEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worth, AaronNotes Bysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Penguin's collection The Virgin of the seven daggers contains the same stories as Arena's Supernatural Tales, in the same order: 1. Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 2. A wedding chest 3. Amour Dure 4. A Wicked Voice 5. The Legend of Madam Krasinska 6. The Virgin of the Seven Daggers.
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I entered the church...It struck me suddenly that all this crowd of men and women standing all round, these priests chanting and moving about the altar, were dead... Vernon Lee was a polymath whose copious writings include deeply learned studies of art, music, literature, and history, but also a small but exquisitely crafted group of Gothic tales, most of which first appeared in fin de siècle periodicals including the iconic Yellow Book. In these stories of obsession and possession, transgressive desire reaches out from the past -- through a haunting portrait, a murdered poet's lock of hair, the uncanny voice of a diabolical castrato -- dragging Lee's protagonists to their doom. Among those haunted by Lee's 'spurious ghosts' was Henry James, who praised her 'gruesome, graceful...ingenious tales, full of imagination'. This new edition includes Lee's landmark 1890 collection Hauntings complete, along with six additional tales and the 1880 essay 'Faustus and Helena', in which Lee probes the elusive nature of the supernatural as a 'vital...fluctuating...potent' force that resists definite representation. Aaron Worth's contextual introduction, drawing upon Lee's newly published letters, reassesses her place in the pantheon of the fantastic. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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