The Lifted Veil by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) (1859)
Classic Tales of Terror From Women In Horror
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror February 24, 2015 WIHM
Author George Eliot will not be appearing on anybody’s Women In Horror Month posts. Most horror and supernatural readers don’t read her work. But did you know that Eliot wrote one story that qualifies as supernatural? I’m featuring her this month because I look for authors who reach beyond their fictional category and dabble in supernatural. The Lifted Veil is nothing like Eliot’s traditional style of portraying provincial life in her popular novel and literary masterpiece Middlemarch. Henry James reviewed The Lifted Veil as “woefully somber.” Eliot herself described it as a “dismal story.”
This Gothic tale, a dash more science fiction than horror, is about extrasensory perception, fate, telepathy, reviving the dead, and the unmasking of illusions. How frightening is it to foresee your own murder on a specific date: September 20 at 10 pm? Our narrator Latimer is a rather overwrought young man who has a vision of his own death; he sees his last moments as he gasps, his heart contracting. Fear, alienation, guilt, doubt, and false hope all play into this plot. And it’s not without a vaulting love story as Latimer falls for the lovely Bertha, a “slim willowy figure with luxuriant blonde hair,” but she possesses far more than just beauty. Evil is present.
Watch how cleverly Eliot uses a portrait of the infamous Lucrezia Borgia as an omen to warn Latimer of his opponent. Poetic passion at its finest.
“In the same instant a strange intoxicating numbness passed over me, like the continuance or climax of the sensation I was still feeling from the gaze of Lucrezia Borgia.”
I especially like how Eliot uses supernatural devices to illustrate the cynicism of human nature. She hits on the misestimates we all make during the dark places in relationships and the unknown presences that direct and redirect our lives.
What veils are we willing or unwilling to lift to see the harsh reality?
Read the short story (not quite the length of a novella)
Listen to the audio version of The Lifted Veil at Librivox.org
If you are a Goodreads member, check out this review of The Lifted Veil by Werner Lind:
Other Reading Web Sites to Visit
For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed
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