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Black Water: The Book of Fantastic…
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Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature

by Alberto Manguel (Editor)

Other authors: Ryunosuke Akutagawa (Contributor), Hans Christian Andersen (Contributor), Anonymous (Author), Marcel Aymé (Contributor), Max Beerbohm (Contributor)60 more, Hilaire Belloc (Contributor), Stephen Vincent Benét (Contributor), Adolfo Bioy Casares (Contributor), Léon Bloy (Contributor), Jorge Luis Borges (Contributor), Ray Bradbury (Contributor), Italo Calvino (Contributor), Jean Cocteau (Contributor), John Collier (Contributor), Alex Comfort (Contributor), Julio Cortázar (Contributor), Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (Contributor), Walter de la Mare (Contributor), André Pieyre de Mandiargues (Contributor), Marco Denevi (Contributor), Charles Dickens (Contributor), Isak Dinesen (Contributor), Daphne du Maurier (Contributor), Lord Dunsany (Contributor), Howard Fast (Contributor), E.M. Forster (Contributor), David Garnett (Contributor), Joanne Greenburg (Contributor), Graham Greene (Contributor), João Guimarães Rosa (Contributor), L.P. Hartley (Contributor), Nathaniel Hawthorne (Contributor), Lafcadio Hearn (Contributor), O. Henry (Contributor), Hermann Hesse (Contributor), Robert S. Hichens (Contributor), George Hitchcock (Contributor), I.A. Ireland (Contributor), W.W. Jacobs (Contributor), Henry James (Contributor), M.R. James (Contributor), Franz Kafka (Contributor), Francis King (Contributor), Rudyard Kipling (Contributor), Manuel Mujica Lainez (Contributor), Flann O'Brien (Contributor), Silvina Ocampo (Contributor), Cynthia Ozick (Contributor), Giovanni Papini (Contributor), Virgilio Piñera (Contributor), Edgar Allan Poe (Contributor), J.B. Priestley (Contributor), Alexander Pushkin (Contributor), Horacio Quiroga (Contributor), Saki (Contributor), Bruno Schulz (Contributor), Robert Louis Stevenson (Contributor), Junichiro Tanizaki (Contributor), Jules Verne (Contributor), H.G. Wells (Contributor), Edith Wharton (Contributor), Oscar Wilde (Contributor), Charles Williams (Contributor), Tennessee Williams (Contributor), Marguerite Yourcenar (Contributor)

Series: Black Water (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
413842,586 (4.13)14
Seventy-two stories of fantasy and horror drawn primarily from England, the United States, and Latin America, whose authors include Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, and Tennessee Williams.
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» See also 14 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
So far, SO incredible! Alberto Manguel wrote one of my favorite reference books, "A Dictionary of Imaginary Places," and this is as imaginative, as literate, as carefully considered a collection as any I have ever, ever read, each piece lovingly introduced by the editor with all the necessary biography to put each piece in context and also bridge time & place seamlessly... from Jean Cocteau to Jules Verne to Borges and O. Henry with not a page out of place... highly recommended, one of the best anthologies I've ever encountered. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |


Alberto Manguel - Argentine-Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor. He is surely among the very greatest readers of books and lovers of world literature. Black Water collects 72 tales of the fantastic by such authors as Jean Cocteau, Marguerite Yourcenar, Herman Hesse, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, H.G.Wells, Franz Kafka and Ursula K. LeGuin. There is one story I particularly enjoy from a less well known author from Argentina, Manuel Mujica Láinez, and it is this story I have made the focus of my review. Hope you enjoy and take the opportunity to explore this outstanding collection on your own.

IMPORTANCE by Manuel Mujica Láinez
Great Lady: Mrs. Hermosilla del Fresno, widow, lady of very great importance, lives in her huge mansion with her many servants and presides over all the city’s important charities and parties. Great writers such as de Maupassant and Balzac have always understood one of the perfect ingredients for a good short story is a character puffed up by all their wealth and social standing. Manuel Mujica Láinez was familiar with the precariousness of family wealth: born into a distinguished and wealthy lineage of Buenos Aries nobility, by the time the family line reached his parents and Manuel, the vast majority of wealth vanished. Manuel had to earn a living as a literary critic and art critic for the city’s leading newspaper.

Chink in the Armor: Unfortunately, there is one small fact diminishing the Señora’s splendid importance: her family background is somewhat less than splendid. That’s right, sad but true, she comes from a dubious bloodline. Also unfortunate for Señora, certain obscure relatives occasionally have the temerity to pop up at the wrong time forcing Señora to cloak their kinship with a wry smile and arched glance “while her vanity spits and snarls inside her like a crouching tiger.” Ah, a second valuable ingredient for a good short story featuring a puffed up character: a hidden flaw.

Piety Counts: Señora believes in God as well as in heaven and hell. And equally notable, Señora also firmly believes, a belief bolstered by her assistants and employees, that she has unquestionably earned her rightful place in Paradise. Such a worldview as the Señora’s has always amused me, a worldview shared by fundamentalists of whatever stripe I’ve encountered: there’s a heaven and hell and I’m the one going to heaven. All the rest of you people who don’t believe exactly what I believe will go to hell – good riddance!

The Fantastic: As it turns out, there’s an excellent reason why this story is included in Alberto Manguel's anthology of fantastic literature: one morning Señora wakes up only to discover she is dead. That’s right, all her very, very important servants gather in her room, wailing and crying over the fact that their beloved Señora has died. Of course, Señora is frightened and a tad astonished at this event since deep down Señora really and truly believed she is immortal. Let’s face it, all of us are not that different from Señora – a characteristically human way of viewing life: suffering, old age and especially death are things that happen to other people, certainly not me since, well . . . life is all about me!

The Unexpected: After one hour, two hours, three hours, Señora thinks enough is enough, where are heavenly angels to carry me off to paradise? Instead, exactly the beings she does not want to appear, appear: her dubious cousins, nephews and, damn, her most dreaded half-sister show up in open view of those upper crust ladies Señora has always tried her hardest to impress. Oh, my, what a bummer for someone who has spent their life molding an identity around wealth, status and bloodline. Sidebar: In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition with their Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead), the biggest mistake we can make at the time of our death is to cling to our past life and relationships rather than letting go.

Bad News: Señora's upper crust lady friends actually exchange pleasantries with her lowly relatives rather than paying any attention to her. What is happening here? Señora grows impatient, life is not cooperating with her wishes and desires. On top of this, after six distasteful, highly unpleasant days, Señora’s lawyer shows up on the scene and, contrary to her interests in perpetuating her good name by leaving her wealth to her chosen charities as clearly expressed in her will, the nefarious rascal denies there is any such will and boldly states all her monies will be distributed to her relatives. Ahhh! Señora wants to raise her arms to heaven and shout out the truth, but, alas, inhabiting a ghostly, otherworldly space, she cannot move her limbs or open her mouth.

Even Worse: The bad news continues, her cousins, nephews and half-sister move into her house, rummage through her drawers and closets, put on her clothes and jewelry, have lewd sex on her bed right next to her ghostly body, speak of her as prudish, vain and haughty. Here is how Manuel Mujica Láinez ends his tale: “Until, gradually, Mrs Hermosilla del Fresno (who cannot even escape into the haven of madness) understands, with surprise and despair, the she will never be taken away, not even to be guided to an unexpected Hell. Because this, however strange, absurd, unconventional and antitheological it might seem, this is Hell.”

Manuel Mujica Láinez (1910-1984) - Argentine novelist, essayist, literary critic and art critic ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
A wonderful collection—uneven as they usually are, but the high notes are unforgettable. Hunt it down if you like hard-to-classify, weird fiction. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |


Alberto Manguel - Argentine-Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor. He is surely among the very greatest readers of books and lovers of world literature. Black Water collects 72 tales of the fantastic by such authors as Jean Cocteau, Marguerite Yourcenar, Herman Hesse, Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, H.G.Wells, Franz Kafka and Ursula K. LeGuin. There is one story I particularly enjoy from a less well known author from Argentina, Manuel Mujica Láinez, and it is this story I have made the focus of my review. Hope you enjoy and take the opportunity to explore this outstanding collection on your own.

IMPORTANCE by Manuel Mujica Láinez
Great Lady: Mrs. Hermosilla del Fresno, widow, lady of very great importance, lives in her huge mansion with her many servants and presides over all the city’s important charities and parties. Great writers such as de Maupassant and Balzac have always understood one of the perfect ingredients for a good short story is a character puffed up by all their wealth and social standing. Manuel Mujica Láinez was familiar with the precariousness of family wealth: born into a distinguished and wealthy lineage of Buenos Aries nobility, by the time the family line reached his parents and Manuel, the vast majority of wealth vanished. Manuel had to earn a living as a literary critic and art critic for the city’s leading newspaper.

Chink in the Armor: Unfortunately, there is one small fact diminishing the Señora’s splendid importance: her family background is somewhat less than splendid. That’s right, sad but true, she comes from a dubious bloodline. Also unfortunate for Señora, certain obscure relatives occasionally have the temerity to pop up at the wrong time forcing Señora to cloak their kinship with a wry smile and arched glance “while her vanity spits and snarls inside her like a crouching tiger.” Ah, a second valuable ingredient for a good short story featuring a puffed up character: a hidden flaw.

Piety Counts: Señora believes in God as well as in heaven and hell. And equally notable, Señora also firmly believes, a belief bolstered by her assistants and employees, that she has unquestionably earned her rightful place in Paradise. Such a worldview as the Señora’s has always amused me, a worldview shared by fundamentalists of whatever stripe I’ve encountered: there’s a heaven and hell and I’m the one going to heaven. All the rest of you people who don’t believe exactly what I believe will go to hell – good riddance!

The Fantastic: As it turns out, there’s an excellent reason why this story is included in Alberto Manguel's anthology of fantastic literature: one morning Señora wakes up only to discover she is dead. That’s right, all her very, very important servants gather in her room, wailing and crying over the fact that their beloved Señora has died. Of course, Señora is frightened and a tad astonished at this event since deep down Señora really and truly believed she is immortal. Let’s face it, all of us are not that different from Señora – a characteristically human way of viewing life: suffering, old age and especially death are things that happen to other people, certainly not me since, well . . . life is all about me!

The Unexpected: After one hour, two hours, three hours, Señora thinks enough is enough, where are heavenly angels to carry me off to paradise? Instead, exactly the beings she does not want to appear, appear: her dubious cousins, nephews and, damn, her most dreaded half-sister show up in open view of those upper crust ladies Señora has always tried her hardest to impress. Oh, my, what a bummer for someone who has spent their life molding an identity around wealth, status and bloodline. Sidebar: In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition with their Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead), the biggest mistake we can make at the time of our death is to cling to our past life and relationships rather than letting go.

Bad News: Señora's upper crust lady friends actually exchange pleasantries with her lowly relatives rather than paying any attention to her. What is happening here? Señora grows impatient, life is not cooperating with her wishes and desires. On top of this, after six distasteful, highly unpleasant days, Señora’s lawyer shows up on the scene and, contrary to her interests in perpetuating her good name by leaving her wealth to her chosen charities as clearly expressed in her will, the nefarious rascal denies there is any such will and boldly states all her monies will be distributed to her relatives. Ahhh! Señora wants to raise her arms to heaven and shout out the truth, but, alas, inhabiting a ghostly, otherworldly space, she cannot move her limbs or open her mouth.

Even Worse: The bad news continues, her cousins, nephews and half-sister move into her house, rummage through her drawers and closets, put on her clothes and jewelry, have lewd sex on her bed right next to her ghostly body, speak of her as prudish, vain and haughty. Here is how Manuel Mujica Láinez ends his tale: “Until, gradually, Mrs Hermosilla del Fresno (who cannot even escape into the haven of madness) understands, with surprise and despair, the she will never be taken away, not even to be guided to an unexpected Hell. Because this, however strange, absurd, unconventional and antitheological it might seem, this is Hell.”

Manuel Mujica Láinez (1910-1984) - Argentine novelist, essayist, literary critic and art critic ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
So enjoyable that I regret that I've come to the end. I really recommend it if you can find a copy. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Nov 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Manguel, AlbertoEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Akutagawa, RyunosukeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andersen, Hans ChristianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
AnonymousAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aymé, MarcelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beerbohm, MaxContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belloc, HilaireContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benét, Stephen VincentContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bioy Casares, AdolfoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloy, LéonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borges, Jorge LuisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, RayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Calvino, ItaloContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cocteau, JeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collier, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Comfort, AlexContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cortázar, JulioContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Alarcón, Pedro AntonioContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de la Mare, WalterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Mandiargues, André PieyreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Denevi, MarcoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dickens, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dinesen, IsakContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
du Maurier, DaphneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dunsany, LordContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fast, HowardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forster, E.M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garnett, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greenburg, JoanneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greene, GrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guimarães Rosa, JoãoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hartley, L.P.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hawthorne, NathanielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hearn, LafcadioContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Henry, O.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hesse, HermannContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hichens, Robert S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hitchcock, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ireland, I.A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, W.W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, HenryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, M.R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kafka, FranzContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
King, FrancisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kipling, RudyardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lainez, Manuel MujicaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, FlannContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ocampo, SilvinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ozick, CynthiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Papini, GiovanniContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Piñera, VirgilioContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poe, Edgar AllanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Priestley, J.B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pushkin, AlexanderContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Quiroga, HoracioContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
SakiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schulz, BrunoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, Robert LouisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tanizaki, JunichiroContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verne, JulesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wells, H.G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wharton, EdithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilde, OscarContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, TennesseeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yourcenar, MargueriteContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Contents:
  • Foreword
  • House Taken Over / Julio Cortazar
  • How Love Came to Professor Guildea / Robert S. Hichens
  • Climax for a Ghost Story / I.A. Ireland
  • The Mysteries of the Joy Rio / Tennessee Williams
  • Pomegranate Seed / Edith Wharton
  • Venetian Masks / Adolfo Bioy Casares
  • The Wish House / Rudyard Kipling
  • The Playground / Ray Bradbury
  • Importance / Manuel Mujica Lainez
  • Enoch Soames / Max Beerbohm
  • A Visitor from Down Under / L.P. Hartley
  • Laura / Saki
  • An Injustice Revealed / Anonymous
  • A Little Place off the Edgware Road / Graham Greene
  • from 'A School Story' / M.R. James
  • The Signalman / Charles Dickens
  • The Tall Woman / Pedro Antonio de Alarcon
  • A Scent of Mimosa / Francis King
  • Death and the Gardener / Jean Cocteau
  • Lord Mountdrago / W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Sick Gentleman's Last Visit / Giovanni Papini
  • Insomnia / Virgilio Pinera
  • The Storm / Jules Verne
  • A Dream / Anonymous
  • The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar / Edgar Allan Poe
  • Split Second / Daphne du Maurier
  • August 25, 1983 / Jorge Luis Borges
  • How Wang-Fo Was Saved / Marguerite Yourcenar
  • from 'Peter and Rosa' / Isak Dinesen
  • Tattoo / Junichiro Tanizaki
  • John Duffy's Brother / Flann O'Brien
  • Lady into Fox / David Garnett
  • Father's Last Escape / Bruno Schulz
  • A Man by the Name of Ziegler / Hermann Hesse
  • The Argentine Ant / Italo Calvino
  • The Lady on the Grey / John Collier
  • The Queen of Spades / Alexander Pushkin
  • Of a Promise Kept / Lafcadio Hearn
  • The Wizard Postponed / Juan Manuel
  • The Monkey's Paw / W.W. Jacobs
  • The Bottle Imp / Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Rocking-Horse Winner / D.H. Lawrence
  • Certain Distant Suns / Joanne Greenburg
  • The Third Bank of the River / Joao Guimaraes Rosa
  • Home / Hilaire Belloc
  • The Door in the Wall / H.G. Wells
  • The Friends / Silvina Ocampo
  • Et in sempiternum pereant
  • Charles Williams
  • The Captives of Longjumeau / Leon Bloy
  • The Visit to the Museum / Vladimir Nabokov
  • 'Autumn Mountain' / Ryunosuke Akutagawa
  • The Sight / Brian Moore
  • Clorinda / Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues
  • The Pagan Rabbi / Cynthia Ozick
  • The Fisherman and His Soul / Oscar Wilde
  • The Bureau d'Echange de Maux / Lord Dunsany
  • The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas / Usual K. LeGuin
  • In the Penal Colony / Franz Kafka
  • A Dog in Durer's Etching 'The Knight, Death and the Devil' / Marco Denevi
  • The Large Ant / Howard Fast
  • The Lemmings / Alex Comfort
  • The Grey Ones / J.B. Priestley
  • The Feather Pillow / Horacio Quiroga
  • Seaton's Aunt / Walter de la Mare
  • The Friends of the Friends / Henry James
  • The Travelling Companion / Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Curfew Tolls / Stephen Vincent Benét
  • The State of Grace / Marcel Ayme
  • The Story of a Panic / E.M. Forster
  • An Invitation to the Hunt / George Hitchcock
  • from 'The American Notebooks' / Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Dream / O. Henry
  • The authors
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