Monthly Archives: November 2013

Nocturnal Adventures Full of Dark

The Severed Hand  by Wilhelm Hauff  (1826 and 1869) 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 26, 2013

A man in a scarlet cloak … in Florence, Italy … on the Ponte Vecchio, the bridge over the Arno River … exactly at midnight.

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In Wilhelm Hauff’s The Severed Hand, our narrator Zaleukos, a young surgeon agrees to meet this red-cloaked stranger in the shadowy cold night. With a sabre in his gird, Zaleukos walks the bridge and within a few minutes he sees the cloaked man approach. ‘In three bounds I had reached him, seized him by his cloak, and cried still louder, whilst laying hold of my sabre with my other hand. His cloak, however, remained in my hand, and the stranger had disappeared.’

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Zaleukos brings the cloak home and discovers it is made of the finest Genovese velvet, fur trimmed, and with embroidered gold. Might it be haunted? Or cursed? Once more, he is invited to meet the stranger on the Ponte Vecchio at the last stroke of midnight. And he is to bring the red cloak with him and receive 400 glittering sequins for payment. Naturally, he can’t resist the offer. But this time, Zaleukos finds the stranger wearing a mask. And the man has need of Zaleukos’ surgical skills … but not on the living.

If any story can make you shudder, this one will, for our young and quite innocent Zaleukos succumbs to a most gruesome adventure with his masked stranger.

I thought it appropriate to feature Wilhelm Hauff this month since his birth date is November 29th and his death date is November 18th. Today Wilhelm is a forgotten author who was appreciated as highly talented among 19th century German prose writers. You’ll not find folks these days posting tweets or Facebook comments about this author on his anniversary date. He wrote a good number of fairy tales and short fiction, his most popular novel Lichtenstein, a historical romance. Also The Wine-Ghosts of Bremen. Some of his short story titles are The Memoirs of Satan, The Little Glass Man.

The Severed Hand is truly an inventive little gem, most deserving of resurrection this month.

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Read The Severed Hand at Gutenberg.org

Listen to the narration at Librivox Recordings

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

GoodKindles.net      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Image of the “Red Man” from ScaryforKids.com

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Evil of the Stars

The Beast of Averoigne  by Clark Ashton Smith (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   November  19, 2013

Inside the dark woods not far from the Abbey of Perigon, Brother Gerome beholds a black abomination of head and limbs.

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“The horror stood erect, rising to more than the height of a tall man; and it swayed like a great serpent, and its members undulated, bending like a heated wax. The flat black head was thrust forward on a snakish neck. The eyes, small and lidless, glowing like coals from a wizard’s brazier, were set low and near together in a noseless face above the serrate gleaming of such teeth as might belong to a giant bat.”

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Our tale is narrated by Luc le Chaudronnier, a local sorcerer in Averoigne. With the coming of a red comet in the summer of 1369, a foul evil descends upon the woods of Perigon, woods that are already haunted with vampires and werewolves.  Brother Gerome and the Benedictine monks hear from the locals about gruesome attacks on animals, on the dead inside their graves, and now on the peasants and woodcutters.

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Panic sets in when the beast is seen gliding along the monastery walls. The monks go forth with crosses and holy water to hunt this devil in its lair. When all fails, Abbott Theopile summons Luc to use his superior occult knowledge, wizardry, and his oracular “Eibon’s Ring.”  But is Luc a match for a most powerful darkness from the stars?

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The author of The Beast of Veroigne, Clark Ashton Smith is known as one of the Big Three of Weird Tales with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. This story is tightly written and has an exciting mix of horror and fantasy. Smith was a poet, painter, and sculptor. His prose carries high suspense as this writer is certainly a master of the art.

You might find this tale predictable, but even so, it doesn’t take away from the thrilling occult action. Did you find it predictable?

Read The Beast of Averoigne  at Classic Horror Stories

Listen to the narration at Librivox Recordings by Matthew Knight

You can read more of Clark Ashton Smith’s fantasy and horror  tales at Eldritchdark.com

UPDATE 11-22-13.  I just discovered this link to a podcast about Smith’s writing of this story from Welsh Andy. You might like this discussion by Tim, Phil, and Ruth at TheDoubleShadow.com: http://thedoubleshadow.com/episode-8-beast-of-averoigne/

Art is by Mike Mucci and I couldn’t resist showing  this off to you. Spectacular work!

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

GoodKindles.net      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Keep the Ghosts Off

 Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, My Lad  by M.R. James  (1904)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   November 12, 2014

If you’ve never read M.R. James’ Oh, Whistle, And I’ll come to You, My Lad you will find this to have all the classic elements of a good old-fashioned supernatural tale. If you’ve ever lay in your childhood darkened bed and shivered at the thought of some spook lurking about, this story will recall that heart-pounding fear and dread. M.R. James was a master of ghost stories and Oh, Whistle is thought to be one of his finest and most popular.

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Do you really believe in ghosts? Do you believe that the human dead might retain their nature, their very essence in this world? If your answer is no, you might like Professor Parkins, a precise young man, scrupulously honest and polite, and a Professor of Ontograpy at St. James College, who does not believe in ghosts. Parkin’s scholarly pride prevails here: Ontograpy is the study of the nature and essence of things, specifically that which is concerned with the responses of organic beings to their physical environment.

SeascapeWhistleMRJamesProfessor Parkins takes a holiday to the shore at Burnstow, lodging at the Globe Inn. Desiring solitary walks along the cliffs and beach—and a bit of golf—tea and tobacco and the acquaintance of Colonel Wilson, the professor sets out to stroll by the ruins not far from the inn. These ruins are known to be the preceptory of the Knights of Templars. Parkins comes upon what was likely a church altar, broken mortar and bricks, and something else intrigues him. He digs up a metal tube of considerable age. He is certain of its historic value and pockets the odd piece.

Alone on the cliffs in the approaching night sky, the sea goes dim. Murmurings flow off the churning waves as a bitter wind kicks up. Is that someone behind him? A figure? A wavy figure? He might have imagined a childhood fantasy of a darkened figure with horns and wings. But no. This is just another lonely soul wandering the coastal cliffs. Or is it?

Once back in his room at the Globe Inn, Parkins examines the odd metal piece and concludes that this is an old whistle. He finds an inscription quis est iste qui uenitWho is this who is coming?

Who indeed, Parkins wonders and tests it out, not just once but twice he blows the whistle. What do you think emerges at such a call from a man who does not believe in spirits? And how will he spend the night in his bed, in a restful sleep or …?

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Read the short story Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come to You, My Lad here at Gaslight.

Narrations of James’ stories are a special treat. His stories lend themselves to read-alouds far more than most authors, I think, because they are written so fluently and create an intimacy that is irresistible.

For a full text narration of Oh, Whistle, you can read it here at Tales to Terrify. An excellent production, narrated by Jack Calverley. Sit back, close your eyes and let this narrative take you into the shadowy world of M.R. James.

For an adapted text version, the famous Robert Powell reads a very haunting version of Oh, Whistle from a traditional English study by lamplight and fireside. Very atmospheric if you want to see your reader telling you the story.  Listen to Part One here at YouTube and Part Two at YouTube (total time about 20 minutes)

 

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And, you might like the 1968 film adaptation on YouTube,  by BBC TV directed by Jonathan Miller, staring Michael Hordern and Ambrose Coghill. Not a whole lot of dialogue going on here, but that haunting quiet adds to the spooky mood of the thrashing sea and descending winds, not to mention some fine photography of the eastern English coastline. At the inn, there is an interesting debate between the intellectual Parkins and  the Colonel on the survival of the personality at death. (run time is 42 minutes) Watch it here at YouTube.

 

 

 

Please post if you have other M.R. James’s stories that you would like to recommend. The Ash Tree is one of my favorites and is featured here in January 2012 archives.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

GoodKindles.net      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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What is Between the Darkness and the Dawn?

You know that moment when the softness of the night fades and the day peeks open to the rise of the sun? There is a fleeting time between the darkness and the dawn. What if, in that sliver  of light, the past could shutter open? What would you experience? What glimmering shadows would you see?

My latest short story Between the Darkness and the Dawn is now published live on the Whistling Shade Literary Journal web site. This is a ghost story set in the Old Manse, the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Concord, Massachusetts.

I hope you’ll read this historical supernatural mystery with literary flavor and ghostly atmospherics; I would so love a comment or a review:

Between the Darkness and the Dawn  by Paula Cappa

 

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An Unquiet Spirit

 The Haunted Orchard   by Richard Le Gallienne  (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 5, 2013

 

With so many dark tales dominating our reading time for October, I thought a gentle ghost story might be refreshing—something atmospheric and soothing with glittering prose to refresh our literary consciousness. English author and poet Richard Le Gallienne wrote such a story in The Haunted Orchard.

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The time of year is the silvery warm summertime. Solitude, still fashionable in the 1890s, is what our narrator is thirsting for, so he travels from the dusty city to the blue and green coast of Connecticut. The greening silence of leafy trees in the quiet breezes opens his mind and sets it to rest.

 

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He stumbles upon an abandoned farmhouse fully furnished with charming tables, old books, inviting china, and wayside flowers in the meadows. Unable to resist taking a holiday in this sweet little house, he rents it for the summer.

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Just after settling in and while having a lazy afternoon with a book—Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy—under an old apple tree, he hears singing. The song is strikingly more beautiful than any birdsong he  had ever heard and far more mysterious. He is totally enchanted and must discover the source.

 

The Haunted Orchard is a simple story with wholesome characters, charged with a hypnotic quality that Le Gallienne’s writing is esteemed for. Let the vivid images he describes stream you along to aerial spaces that only a haunted soul can enter.

 

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Read it at East of the Web

As wonderful as it is to read this story because of the poetic elements, I hope you will listen to the Librivox Recording by Jessica Snyder. She has a melodious voice and does the story much justice, especially the little French songs. I did find that the narrated ending here was shortened and not true to the author’s intent—a mistake by my standards. So, after listening, I recommend you at least read the last paragraph of the printed story to enjoy the full denouement.

 Librivox Recordings, The Haunted Orchard, Narrated by Jessica Snyder

 

Le Gallienne wrote a number of novels, poems, and short stories and you can find more of his work at Gutenberg.org.  I found The Haunted Restaurant to be a  romantic tale that was a great lunchtime read (goes well with a French Brie, apples and slice of hot crusty bread). Enjoy!

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

GoodKindles.net      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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