Originally called “The Way It Came”, this one has James not piling subordinate clause on subordinate clause as other tales of his I’ve read. It’s still full of digression and is very elipitical in the sense that this seven part story names none of its characters.
Part I has an anonymous writer presenting this to someone as an account from someone he knew. The story was first published in Embarassments, a James collection of James.
The rest of the story, starting with Part II, is related by a woman. She starts out by blaming herself for the coming events by first speaking of her to him. The woman in question had what modern paranormal researchers would call a “crisis vision” of her father the day he died hundreds of miles away. That was when she was 18, and she’s told the story several times to her circle of friends.
Recently the Criterion Club in London found itself placed in receivership and selling its assets off. In a hidden bookcase, this journal, a collection of lost literary works by club members and visitors transcribed (and perhaps touched up a bit) by Arthur Conan Doyle was found.
The quality of Meikle’s imitations of those writers I can’t, for the most part, speak to. I haven’t read all these authors, and some I have only read a few works by. (I’ll put the putative authors of each story in parentheses next to the relevant title.)
I do think I’ve read enough of H. G. Wells to say that “Farside” is a convincing imitation in style and theme. Its narrator tells us about a demonstration of a Chromoscope, a machine of spinning colored plates that light is passed through and projected onto a wall. It’s a creation of his inventor friend, Hoskins. Hoskins and friends find out, by putting their hands between the projector and the wall, that they have rainbow auras about their hands. Well, all except Dennings who has a “sickly glow, all green” around his. Perhaps its no coincidence that he dies three days later. But why is that green glow now around Hoskins’ hand? Being a Wells’ fan, I was inclined to like this.
I enthusiastically liked so many stories (nine out of 14) that I can’t really call them favorites. Continue reading →
The Lovecraft series continues with a famous critical essay he wrote.
Raw Feed (2005): Supernatural Horror in Literature, H. P. Lovecraft, 1927.
I’d heard for decades that this is a classic essay of criticism in the horror field, and I can see why.
Lovecraft cast a far net and in many languages for stories containing an element, a sensation (even if only a passing one in the rationalistic Gothics of Ann Radcliffe), of supernatural horror.
He read a lot of authors like Oliver Wendall Holmes, Henry James, and E. M. Forester not normally associated with the supernatural but who produced a few such works.
Most important, though, is what all this reading reveals about Lovecraft.
I don’t know when he read these various works — the essay’s publication goes back to 1927 — so it’s hard to state what works inspired his works, but a lot of images and motifs from Lovecraft’s work are mentioned, particularly in regards to Gothics: lurkers in the cellar (“The Alchemist“), evil portraits (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward), and family curses. Continue reading →