Perdita by Hildegarde Hawthorne (1897)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, February 11, 2014 Women In Horror Month
Hildegarde Hawthorne (1871-1952) probably isn’t a name that comes quickly to mind to most fiction readers. Even if you are an avid classic reader, this author has been long forgotten and overlooked. Of course, you might guess she was related to the most famous Hawthorne. Hildegarde was the granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, daughter of Julian. She was a short story writer, poet, essayist, biographer, and reviewer—author of some 23 books.
Her short story featured here, Perdita, was originally published in Harper’s New Monthly and in the anthology Shapes That Haunt the Dusk in 1907. She is probably most famous for her biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Romantic Rebel in 1936. If you enjoy Perdita, you might also like The Faded Garden, which is a collection of all her ghost stories.
I can’t call Perdita a horror story. Even “quiet horror” is a stretch. This is a ghostly love story. Picture the beauty of the prairie, rolling alfalfa fields and big sky. You are sitting on a veranda with vines of roses and sweeping clean air. But there is a morbid quietness. There is … a young married couple, fresh from their honeymoon. There is sweet Aunt Agnes … There is … the power from beyond.
Read Perdita at Gutenberg.org (scroll down to the title)
Have you experienced the award-winning work of Caitlin Kiernan? Kiernan is known more as a dark fantasy author than horror author, although that dividing line is pretty blurry to me. She’s written novels, comic books, novellas, and over 100 short stories. Here’s one from Subterranean Press, The Belated Burial. Yeah, you guessed it … a tale of being buried alive. But nothing is predictable in the dark realms of Caitlin Kiernan.
The Belated Burial is short enough for a lunchtime read. I read it with a rare roast beef sandwich, tomato juice, and rich black Espresso coffee. We are in vampire land, after all.
I would certainly be interested in seeing some comments on this story. Did you find Kiernan’s The Belated Burial kindred to Poe’s The Premature Burial? (read story here) What did you think of Kiernan’s ending? If you have any thoughts, please post.
Listen to the audio at PodCastle Number 127
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