The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Captain Frederick Marryat (1839)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror August 13, 2013
Here we are … lycanthropes! These shape-shifting wolves take us to the wildest regions of the imagination. You might recall the famous An American Werewolf in Paris. American Werewolf in London. Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolfman. In Frederick Marryat’s story (this short taken from an episode in his novel The Phantom Ship), our narrator is Hermann Krantz, an endearing and healthy young man who is sailing, with his friend Philip, in a tiny ship up the Straits to Pulo Penang. During this sail, Hermann tells Philip a story about his family from Transylvania.
Infidelity and murder drive Hermann’s father and the Krantz family to the Hartz Mountains in Germany where the desolate pine trees and vast valleys protect them from the authorities. Marcella, Hermann’s five-year-old sister, a sweet beautiful child endures the unkindness of their father, until one day when a howl of a wolf outside their cottage door changes everything.
Hermann does not know what lies in the wilderness at Hartz Mountain. He does not know what his father might find when he ascends the mountain for his hunt. An evil spirit? A destiny? The father brings back with him a woman. She is named Christina, full of magnetic beauty, hair glossy as a mirror, penetrating eyes, dressed in stunning white fur robes. She enters the Krantz family cottage—along with her “spirit-hunter.”
Hermann believes that the destinies of man are foreknown. Evil may fulfill evil. There may be warning voices—premonitions—a kinder spirit that offers preparation. Will Hermann hear that warning cry … or will he hear the wolf’s howl?
This story is a thrilling ride, pulsing with symbolisms of female sexuality, motherhood, and male domination of the 1800s. It is probably one of the earliest werewolf tales written, and I will say, quite satisfying in theme and message.
Have you a favorite werewolf short story? Please drop us a comment.
Portrait of Captain Frederic Marryat
Read The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains at Gutenberg.net. This story is followed by another short, the Legend of the Bell Rock by same author.
Some worthy web sites for reading …
For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed