Sir Edmund Orme by Henry James (1891) [Birth date April 15]
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, April 16, 2013
If one were to look for a precise opposite of Henry James’ style of writing, we can look no further than Hemingway’s sharp and snappy prose. James writes long sentences with long clauses that have a mesmerizing quality that you might find glorious to sink into. We know James to write fiction a bit like a psychologist—more suggestive than direct— and that’s why some of us love his work because there’s so much to discover between the lines.
This short story, Sir Edmund Orme is not as famous as The Turn of the Screw, but this ghostly little romance moves along with high suspense and at the same time you can sink into the hypnotic prose of the narrator.
When seeing a ghost (in literature, that is), we are often excited that whoever has died still exists in some form of consciousness and returns to haunt. But the horror of actually seeing a ghost dramatizes death as well as making it so mysterious that we often want to explore more. Our narrator, a dashing young man, is curious about such ghosts.
“The place is haunted, haunted!” I exulted in the word as if it stood for all I had ever dreamt of.
We meet him flirting with the lovely Charlotte Marden on a soft Sunday in November in Brighten. He falls in love with Charlotte. But Charlotte’s mother, Mrs. Marden, has “intuitions” that trouble her; she confesses these troubles to our narrator. Almost immediately, our narrator begins to “see” a ghost.
Is this ghost truly a relic of the dead … or an experience of Mrs. Marden’s that infects our narrator? Or maybe some monstrosity from beyond?
Read it at East of the Web:
And if you really want to read James’ absolute best ghost story, here’s the link to The Turn of the Screw at Read Book Online:
Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror. Next week, H.G. Wells.
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