Tag Archives: death

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

Where is Death?

Death and the Woman   by Gertrude Atherton  (1892)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, February 25, 2014    Women In Horror Month

220px-MortDeath as persona is a classic technique in horror stories. Today, I thought I’d try something different: instead of creating an introduction of the story, I’d string a few lines from the text to tempt you to read this author, Gertrude Atherton. She wrote some 40 novels and five volumes of short stories as well as nonfiction. Her fiction was quite modern for the American woman seeking emancipation at the turn of the century. A woman writing about women, their inner conflicts and struggles in society, politics, and sexuality, and in this story, Death and the Woman, a wife facing the terror of her husband’s death.

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If you’ve ever stood at the bedside of a dying relative or friend, this story will certainly punctuate that experience of awe and fear. If you’ve never witnessed death enter, well, this story will give you a foreboding peek into the final moments of life.

Where was Death?

She had heard of the power of the corpse to drive brave men to frenzy, and had wondered …

She knew that it was Death who was coming to her through the silent deserted house; knew that it was the sensitive ear of her intelligence that heard him, not the dull, coarse-grained ear of the body.

The dying man took no notice of her, and she opened his gown and put her cheek to his heart, calling him again.

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Read Death and the Woman at ReadBookOnline.net

Listen (by candlelight as flickering shadows will add a thrilling atmosphere to the fine prose) to the audio at Librivox 

Read more short stories by Gertrude Atherton at Short Story Archive

1796515_10152579730360558_1087184371_nWomen In Horror Month (WiHM). One of the most prolific authors in gothic and dark literature in our modern day is without question Joyce Carol Oates. Who doesn’t know this author’s reputation for her visceral and surreal twisted stories and psychological horrors. Many know her work in this genre from Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque. You won’t find a ghost haunting a house so much as you’ll find the inner hauntings of the self and these are often times more horrific than any mere ghost.

Oates says in Reflections on the Grotesque … “…This is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo—that evil is not always repellent but frequently attractive; that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices.”

Where Are You going, Where Have You Been? (1996) is about a teenage girl and a sinister stalker. This is not a typical horror story, but a powerful and chilling tale with high tension writing. Do read it slowly and thoughtfully to get full potency. If you’ve ever felt yourself alone and vulnerable, this tale will get into your head and under your skin. Some find the ending powerful; others find it too subtle. You decide.

Read Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? at University of San Francisco

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Joyce Carol Oates

http://www.usfca.edu/jco/

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

WiHM Contemporary Horror Short Stories at Sirens Call Publications

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

Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


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Filed under fiction, haunted mind, Hauntings, horror, literary horror, short stories, tales of terror, Women In Horror

French Zombies, Anyone?

Was It A Dream? by Guy De Maupassant (188-s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 9, 2013

The drama factor in Was It A Dream is at the high end. And the chill factor, yeah, this one will get you.

There is something about De Maupassant’s writings that make me feel like I’m living the events with the character—a right-in-the-moment quality. And this story was written over a hundred years ago but it still delivers. De Maupassant was a best-selling author in his day; he wrote over 300 short stories and received much acclaim and praise.

The theme of this shortie is love and death. Such a combination cannot fail to affect with the skills of this author.

The story opens with the exclamation, “I had loved her madly!”  I dare you to stop reading.

By the fourth paragraph, tragedy strikes and our narrator laments his lost love. There is quite a lot of exclamation here, clear prose, a heavy dose of reality, and vivid descriptions that our author is known for—quite sensuous, I might add (Flaubert was De Maupassant’s mentor so of course there’s quite a bit of flair).

The central action of the story takes place in a cemetery. I will tell you, I’m not a zombie fan but these zombies are my kind of zombies! After reading this story, you won’t likely forget it.

Try this exhilarating short read, less than 2000 words at The Literary Gothic:

http://www.litgothic.com/Texts/maupassant_dream.html

Follow me on Twitter  https://twitter.com/PaulaCappa1

Next week’s Tale of Terror will by Henry James in honor of his birth date.

http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Filed under Dreams, fiction, ghouls, horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

Obsessions: Love, Art, Death. Poe’s The Oval Portrait

The Oval Portrait   by  Edgar Allen Poe (1842)

Tuesday’s Tales of Terror, January 22, 2013

The setting: deep midnight at an abandoned château in the snowy Apennines Mountains.

The narrator: a wounded soldier takes refuge in this château, stays the night in one of the turret bedrooms “decorations rich, yet tattered and antique.” His room is filled with flickering light from “tongues of a tall candelabrum.” The soldier’s vision is captured by a great number of “very spirited modern paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque on the walls.”

Can you see this? Very inviting, I think. This week being the anniversary of Poe’s birth date, I chose The Oval Portrait because it represents Poe, not for his grisly writings, but for the romance, passion, and the hypnotic effect of obsessions.

On the soldier’s pillow lay a small volume, handwritten in “quaint words.”  And a stunning portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood hangs in the niche of his room. The flashing of the candlelight plays on her face and shoulders for hours … until the soldier can sleep no more. There is a secret in this portrait, one that the soldier feels compelled discover.

The soldier takes up the little volume and begins to read. The volume is written by the artist. He describes how he painted the portrait of his beauty on the wall. The artist did “not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her.”

What does this mean? Ah-haa. Herein tells the destiny of fatal beauty and the obsession of art. Art and romance! I think it was Emerson who said art is a jealous mistress.

Read it here:  http://poestories.com/read/ovalportrait

Another of Poe’s romantic stories is Ligeia about a love object, written in the Germanic romantic tradition. The setting here is gray and decaying— even the sun and moon fall with a “ghastly luster.” This woman, Ligeia, is an exquisite beauty with dark curly hair and brilliant black eyes. But Ligeia is possessed with “a strangeness” the narrator describes … “She came and departed as a shadow.”  When Ligeia dies … the story takes a wicked turn into an obsession with death.

Read it here:   http://www.online-literature.com/poe/2126/

And stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under fiction, horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror