Tag Archives: witches

A Witch is a Witch

The Witch  by Anton Chekhov (1918)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 3, 2015

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The lovely and young Raissa, adorned with hair plaits that touch the floor, is a witch. Or maybe not. Her husband Savely is a red-haired, grouchy and repulsive  older man who believes his wife is a witch and blames her for the wicked snowstorm and cold they must endure in their little house in the countryside.

Our story opens in true Chekhovian style with descriptive atmospherics.

 

imgres“A plaintive lament sobbed at the window, on the roof, or in the stove. It sounded not like a call for help, but like a cry of misery, a consciousness that it was too late, that there was no salvation.”

A postman and his partner become lost in the storm and knock at their cabin door. Raissa opens the door to these strangers. And the postman becomes enchanted, or should I say bewitched, by Raissa’s lovely neck.

 

 

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Watch for the fascinating dark imagery that is the star of this story. Sexual and spiritual desires are themes in this fiction by the long acclaimed master of the short story, Anton Chekhov. He is famous for his anti-climactic endings that leave a reader to ponder Chekhov’s messages. And his prose! We can still marvel today at his talents.  Eudora Welty  said “Reading Chekhov was just like the angels singing to me.” For my writer followers here, in case you’ve not read Chekhov’s Six Principles of a Good Story, here they are. My favorite is #6. Chekhov certainly fulfilled that one.

  1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of a political-social-economic nature
  2. Total objectivity
  3. Truthful descriptions of persons and objects
  4. Extreme brevity
  5. Audacity and originality: flee the stereotype
  6. Compassion

 

150px-Anton_Chekhov_and_Olga_Knipper,_1901Chekhov’s death has been a well-known story in literary history. Raymond Carver fictionalized it in his short story Errand (read it here). If you’re a Chekhov fan, you must read Errand. Chekhov’s wife Olga  tells it like this.  “Anton sat up unusually straight and said loudly and clearly (although he knew almost no German): Ich sterbe (“I’m dying”). The doctor calmed him, took a syringe, gave him an injection of camphor, and ordered champagne. Anton took a full glass, examined it, smiled at me and said: “It’s a long time since I drank champagne.” He drained it and lay quietly on his left side, and I just had time to run to him and lean across the bed and call to him, but he had stopped breathing and was sleeping peacefully as a child.” [From Olga Knipper, Memoir, in Benedetti, Dear Writer, Dear Actress, 284]

 

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Read The Witch at the Classic Reader http://www.classicreader.com/book/394/1/

Unfortunately I could not find an audio of this story but there are many others here at Chekhov Audio.

[Art of nude witch is by Albert Joseph Penot, “Sabbat,” 1910]

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 Bibliophilopolis

Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     The Story Reading Ape Blog

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 Anton Chekhov, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literature, psychological horror, short stories, suspense, tales of terror, witches

Ancient Sorceries, Dabblers in the Dark Arts

Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 5, 2013

“Because of sleep and because of cats.” What an odd turn of phrase. Got you puzzled? There is a deep mystery in these words in Blackwood’s short story Ancient Sorceries. If a passenger on a train said these words to you while stopped at a small town in France, would you think it was a warning or a riddle?

Blackwood, a masterful writer of the supernatural, was a psychical researcher who believed secret powers lie in everyone. So it seems fitting to trust him to mesmerize us totally with his imagination. In Ancient Sorceries, he writes a seamless prose that moves along with a plot of witches, felines, demons, and reincarnation.

The psychiatrist, John Silence, is a doctor of the mind but also of the soul, a psychic physician with great spiritual sympathies for his patient, Arthur Vezin. Vezin, a timid and sensitive man, recounts an experience to the doctor that is so bizarre, that Vezin barely survives to speak of it—or at least Vezin thinks he survives.

Vezin is travelling to London by rail but exits the train at an unknown sleepy hill town in France. He is attracted to this little town and stays at a rambling ancient inn because it was so warm and still, making him want to “purr.” But he quickly discovers that there are secrets in this town and the people he sees. Enchanted with these secrets, Vezin likens this experience to a “softly-coloured dream which he did not even realize to be a dream.”

What a very weird place to be.

He meets a woman with “red lips” and “laughing white teeth.” He falls in love. His intense longing for her versus his intense dread for her propels the story with great suspense. This woman’s dark magic ensnares him. Can he resist the adventure or does he succumb to the Dance that never dies?

Blackwood does not disappoint his readers with this “sweet and fearful fantasy of evil.” Ancient Sorceries will certainly leave you spellbound. Perhaps Blackwood is right that there is a force secretly hidden in all of us.

Read it here:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blackwood/algernon/john-silence/chapter2.html

Stop back next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under dark fantasy, demons, fiction, horror, reincarnation, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, witches

Dreams in the Witch House … Lovecraft

Dreams in the Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,   November 30, 2012

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PICTURE THIS:  A bleak winter’s night. One candle light flickers. You are in the gabled attic bedroom of a 235-year-old house in Arkham, Massachusetts, not far from Salem.  The sinister scratching of scurrying rats from the wormy walls keeps you awake. Above is a cobwebbed sealed loft. A triangular gulf of darkness hangs to your left from the odd angles of the garret roof: slanted walls, peaked ceiling like a witch’s hat,  red, sticky fluid is smeared on a wall above a chewed out rat hole.

Now really, could you fall asleep? Don’t we love to be afraid like this? Well, at least in the safe confines of fiction, we do.

Walter Gilman, the main character in  Dreams in the Witch House  by H.P. Lovecraft, knows his garret bedroom in the old Witch House is likely haunted. That’s why he moved there. Mathematics and quantum physics are his studies; magic, legend, and three-dimensional space much occupy his mind. But more than that is his attraction to the story of old Keziah Mason’s witch trial back in the 1600s and how she vanished from that very attic room by casting her spells on the walls’ lines and curves  into points that created a dark spinning passage into the beyond.  Poof!

A dark passage into a fourth- or even a multi-dimensional reality, you ask? Walter believes this is possible, and he wants to find it. What he doesn’t count on is old Keziah and her darting sharp-tooth furry rodent with a bearded face, and tiny sets of human hands, who sucks the witch’s blood and relays messages between Keziah and the devil.

I ask again, why do we like this grisly stuff? Aren’t you dying to know what happens to our poor Walter?

When the nightmares begin, Walter is certain it is due to his brain-fever. Well, of course! But soon these dreams go far beyond ordinary nightmares:  Walter dreams of unspeakably menacing darkness with wild shrieking and roaring confusion, a labyrinth of hideous bubbling and choking, which plunge him into muddy abysses.  Oddly enough, when he wakes he finds this disgusting mud inside his bed. The dream becomes reality?

In another dream he actually meets Kaziah. The old crone is bent back, her face long-nosed with a shriveled chin. She drags him away by his pajama sleeve into a “violent-litten” peaked space.

Does Walter succeed in his exploration of space and dimensions? What sphere of points does he enter? Does the old witch and her fanged furry horror win? There’s no spoiler going to happen here. You’ll have to read The Dream in the Witch House yourself.

Dreams and nightmares will continue to puzzle and haunt us.  But fiction about nightmares can create deliciously scary tales that we really can’t resist. For another classic short about the supernatural power of nightmares, try The Leather Funnel by Arthur Conan Doyle. You won’t be disappointed in this chilling adventure.

Below is a link to The Dream in the Witch House.  And please take a look at my page of published short story links on another blog page; none are about nightmares. But my novel, Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural, certainly is.

The Dreams in the Witch House by Lovecraft: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/dwh.asp

The Leather Funnel by A.C. Doyle: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0700561h.html#s2

Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural by Paula Cappa

http://www.amazon.com/Night-Journey-Tale-Supernatural-ebook/dp/B009ONWSC2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350058974&sr=1-1&keywords=Night+Sea+Journey+paula+cappa

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Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, Ghosts, horror, mysteries, Nightmares, occult, short stories, supernatural