Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Dead Grey Eye

The Vampyre   by John Polidori (1819)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    June 24, 2014

 

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If you are a True Blood fan, and haven’t read the first vampire short story in this genre, here it is. No horror blog would be worthy without including this tale.  In terms of historical literature, LeFanu’s Carmilla was the second vampire story in 1847 and then Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Some people think Vlad the Impaler was the first vampire story but Vlad was actually a blood-thirsty Romanian (1400s) who actually impaled his enemies and was known as Dracula of Wallachia. Vlad was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s masterpiece. If we want the absolutely first work of vampire literature we have to recognize the German poem in 1748, The Vampire, by Heinrich August Ossenfelder and of course Goethe’s The Bride of Corinth in 1797.

Our author Dr. John Polidori was a friend of poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and author Mary Shelley. It’s commonly known that they all decided, one stormy evening at Lake Geneva (1816), to challenge each other by writing a horror story. The most famous result of that challenge was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Polidori’s The Vampyre was inspired by Byron’s story The Burial: A Fragment. There is a popular quote by Polidori explaining this inspiration: “The fact is that though the groundwork is certainly Lord Byron’s, its development is mine.” Polidori wrote The Vampyre in a matter of days and it was his only work of fiction. He died at age 25, just two years after its publication.

 

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In The Vampyre, Lord Ruthven is a mysterious, British nobleman with a dead grey eye, who had a mesmerizing effect on young society woman. Aubrey is a young and wealthy man and becomes a friend to his Lordship Ruthven and his traveling companion. Aubrey falls in love with the lovely and innocent Ianthe in Greece, and I don’t have to tell you what happens to the charming Ianthe—who by the way, knows and understands these nocturnal fiends.

Dark romance, blood, supernatural, and madness is a winning combination today and was in 1819. This story was wickedly popular, translated into French, German, Spanish and Swedish, and adapted into a stage play all within a two-year period.

 

Polidori writes with an addictive prose and has created characters that are still alive and thriving in this nearly 200-year old fiction. Do you have a favorite vampire story? What do you think of Polidori’s?

 

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Read The Vampyre  at East of the Web

Listen to the audio at Librivox

 

And here is Lord Byron’s poem that he wrote in 1813, The Giaour, about vampires. I couldn’t resist!

But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corpse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

 

 

 

 

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Murder, Mysticism, and Shadows

The Curse of the Fires and of the Shadows   by William Butler Yeats (1893)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    June 17, 2014

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In Ireland, 1642, Sir Frederick Hamilton, under the direction of Thomas Cromwell, went on a murdering rampage and killed the townsfolk of Sligo, women and children. Survivors were sold off as slaves and shipped to the Caribbean. W.B. Yeats wrote a short story about this murdering rampage. Supernatural, mystery, mysticism, and symbolism all feature in this fiction based on Irish history.

We are in the province of Connacht, Ireland, at the Sligo Abbey (The Dominican Friary of the Holy Cross).

 

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The White Friars with their holy candles are kneeling on the altar.  As Sir Hamilton and his Puritan troopers invade and are given the order to shoot, deep shadows from the holy candles dance a warning. The troopers proceed with their order and leave the monks dead on the altar, their white habits stained with blood.

Set fire to the house!’ cried Sir Frederick Hamilton…”

The dance of the shadows passed away, and the dance of the fires began. The
troopers fell back towards the door in the southern wall, and watched
those yellow dancers springing hither and thither.

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But there is more–another dance is to come: the dance of white moon-fires, a haunted river, madness of the horses, and the Lug-na-Gael.

This story reminded me of Yeat’s poem Death.

NOR dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
A man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all;
Many times he died,
Many times rose again.
A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone —
Man has created death.

That last line, ‘Man has created death’ is a popular Yeat’s quotation and can be interpreted many ways. I couldn’t help but hear in the poem that while animals are unaware of their mortality and humans so very aware, the acts of murderous men create their own deaths as well.  Yeatsian scholars would likely differ, but I found the mystical symbolism of his story and this poem to create a haunting symmetry.

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This story is a short read, and so worthy of your time if you enjoy a mix of imagination, mysticism, and symbolism, and especially if you are a Yeats fan.

We don’t often think of Yeats as writing occult fiction (although there are shades of it in his poetry), but he was a student of the occult and a practicing magician. He also wrote an unfinished novel The Speckled Bird, which is autobiographical about his mystical enlightenment. In a letter to his friend John O’Leary, Yeats said “Mysticism is the center of all that I do and all that I think and all that I write.” (1892)

 

 

Read The Curse of the Fires and of the Shadows at Online-Literature.com

Listen to the audio at Librivox Recordings (16 minutes)

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above for more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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Hanuman, the Monkey-God

The Mark of the Beast   by Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    June 10, 2014

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It’s New Year’s Eve and we are east of the Suez, in the exotic land of India where the powers of gods and devils struggle. Three men are celebrating the holiday. Our narrator is a guest at the home of Mr. Stickland, an officer of the police. Mr. Fleete is a local land owner, also a guest. After drinking too much whiskey and sodas at the club, Fleete becomes intoxicated. On their way home, they pass the temple of Hanuman. Fleete is in a riotous state of mind and grinds his cigar-butt into the forehead of the stone image of Hanuman, the monkey god. Our narrator is aghast for he suspects what this insult to the religion will cause. And he’s right.

Then, without any warning, a Silver Man came out of a recess behind the image of the god. He was perfectly naked in that bitter, bitter cold, and his body shone like frosted silver, for he was what the Bible calls ‘a leper as white as snow.‘ ”

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If you’ve only read Kipling in school you will remember him for The Jungle Book of short stories: a “man cub” named Mowgli in the Indian jungle and the snake-fighting mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. Some of you might know The Phantom Rickshaw, Kipling’s most notable ghost story.

 

220px-KiplingNaulaka_kplng_studyToday you will find The Mark of the Beast to be a menacing horror tale. The audio version (link below) has an authentic style that shows off Kipling’s riveting storytelling at its best.

 

Read The Mark of the Beast at ReadBookOnline.net

 

Listen to the audio (an excellent reading!) at Classic Audio Books

 

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Also available is the 2012 film Mark of the Beast, directed by Jonathan Gorman & Thomas Edward Seymour at IMDb.com

 

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

 

Image of Hanuman from DollsofIndia.com

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Night Sea Journey Earns 5-Star Reviews on Amazon

Greetings:

Just a quick note for those of you asking about how Night Sea Journey is doing with its new release in trade paperback.  Amazon.com reviewers are coming in with lots of 5-stars. Five new reviews this past month and all 5 stars. Ebook is still $2.99.

Latest Reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Night-Sea-Journey-Tale-Supernatural-ebook/product-reviews/B009ONWSC2/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

 

In the dark caverns of her dreams … a firehawk. 

Want to go with her?

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Buy it now on Amazon, ebook at $2.99  Trade softcover discounted at $13.92

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The Hurrying Blackness

A Journey   by Edith Wharton (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 3, 2014

 

images-2This odd little story has a ghostly presence and Edith Wharton’s well-sustained tones and imagery conjure a deep oppressive mood.

A woman is traveling with her husband on a long-distance train to New York. She is on her way back home to her family. Her husband is seriously ill.

The opening lines at the start of her journey, “As she lay in her berth, staring at the shadows overhead, the rush of the wheels was in her brain …” are the polar opposite of what happens at the end of her journey.

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We are inside this woman’s “circles of wakeful lucidity” but there’s much more going on. I like what is not being said as much as what is communicated.

 

As the days pass, this lovely and devoted wife tries to attend to her husband’s needs, protect him, and  keep everyone else on the train away from him for his privacy. Her anxiety, loneliness, and frightening helplessness prevail as the train zooms across the countryside.

 

 

On this journey, death is also a passenger.

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When her journey is over and she thinks her worst terror has past, there is one more drama to come. I read the ending again and ever so slowly. That last image inside the darkened Harlem tunnel is the true haunting in this story

 

Edith Wharton is most famous for her skills of subtle irony and drama. We know her best works to be The Age of Innocence and House of Mirth, and of course her ghost stories.

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Read A Journey at ReadBookOnline.net.

No audio available for A Journey but Librivox does have a number of her short reads on their Tales of Men edition. It includes The Eyes and Afterward and others you might like. Listen to the audio of Edith Wharton’s short stories here at Librivox.

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors

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Filed under fiction, Hauntings, literary horror, psychological horror, short stories, tales of terror