Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand by Sheridan Le Fanu (1870s)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror March 10, 2015
With St. Patrick’s Day nearly upon us, reading Irish ghost stories is perfect with Irish Breakfast tea and piping hot soda bread. Curl up with author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. He was the leading ghost story writer of the nineteenth century, and no St. Patrick’s Day is authentic without reading one of his stories. Le Fanu fans will claim his demonic monkey in Green Tea is his best work. But today I chose the Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand, one of his stories that has been less read (and painfully absent from most of his literary collections) but full of the ghostly presence that Le Fanu is so admired for.
We are in the “Tiled House” in Dublin. Mrs. Prosser is sitting alone in her parlour when she spies a white hand, somewhat aged, and lying outside upon the window sill. This disembodied hand sends her screaming. Later that same night there are hasty tappings at the kitchen window. Thumpings. Angry rappings. Clenched knuckles at the back door. One night the hand is no longer wildly rapping to break a window pane outside. Instead, Mrs. Prosser begins to have nightmares.
Le Fanu builds a crescendo of hauntings, spooky moments, and chilling scenes of mystery. Don’t look for shock horror here. Le Fanu is famous for his style of eerie tones and disquieting ghosts.
I could not find an online text version of this story but did find the audio version and it’s very well done. This story is published in Classic Victorian & Edwardian Ghost Stories by Rex Collings and in Classic Ghost Stories by David Pickering and Horrific Fables by Thomas Huff on Amazon.com. Or check if your local library has it.
Listen to the audio short story online at YouTube here.
More audios of Le Fanu’s novels and stories are at Librivox.org here.
Selections of Le Fanu’s stories available online at ReadBookOnline.
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