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Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 January, 2016 10:09AM
Starting randomly with these four:

L. P. Hartley, "The Travelling Grave": When the animated mechanical coffin shockingly appears in a milieu of otherwise perfectly normal circumstances. That episode retrieved my lost faith in there being any more undiscovered worthwhile items left in weird fiction, and convinced me that there must be an endlessly overflowing cornucopia of weird treasures still to be found in corners and crevices, at least so to satisfy the senses of a human being's limited perspective.

Jack Vance, The Dying Earth: When Mazirian the Magician "...entered the forest of fable. On all sides mossy boles twisted up to support the high panoply of leaves. At intervals shafts of sunshine drifted through to lay carmine blots on the turf. In the shade long-stemmed flowers and fragile fungi sprang from the humus; in this ebbing hour of Earth nature was mild and relaxed. ...". The outer rim of trees is like a wall, a dimensional wall, to the land of fairy. Whenever I am out walking, and pad along the edge of a forest, and finally enter, I am reminded of those inspiring lines from the story. They have become part of my soul.

H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness: When Lovecraft, in uninhibited literary lines, while reaching story-telling ecstasy at the same time innocently reveals his own bizarre preferences of elevated cosmic company, by calling out "They were men!" of the vegetable barrel-shaped Old Ones with starfish heads.

Clark Ashton Smith, "The Black Abbot of Puthuum": "Noon, with its sun of candent copper in a blackish-blue zenith, found them far amid the rusty sands and iron-toothed ridges of Izdrel. ...". What colour, and theme! What powerful symbols, and painted reality, in one and the same! What a distinctly composed sense of decadence and smouldering, dying earth! The sky's last atmosphere, even at noon, is so thin that the cold abyss of relentless space threateningly peers through.

Which are your favorite moments? It would be interesting to hear.

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 21 January, 2016 03:29PM
I like some of the sly humorous moments in Lovecraft, a writer so many consider humorless. In an otherwise sober account, "Nyarlathotep," we suddenly encounter: "And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem..." That's hilarious.

In Fengriffen, by David Case, a Gothic novel that is extremely well-written and utterly effective, we have:
"The room was cold.
"Unbelievably cold, colder than air should be, and despite this frigid chill a foul ordour billowed about; an odour so heavy that it seemed to be visible. I crossed the room and threw the shutters closed. The fetid stench caused me to gag, and for a moment I leaned again the sill for support; shook my head to clear the lingering fumes before I turned to Catherin.
"'The baby,' she said. 'It has taken the baby."
We never see "it," the daemon that everyone assured the woman was naught but feverish delusion. Yet we feel its presence, potently.

From Carl Jacobi's "Revelations in Black": "It was the fountain at my side that had caught my attention first. Across the top of the water basin were five stone unicorns, all identically carved, each seeming to follow the other in galloping procession. Looking farther, prompted now by a madly rising recollection, I saw that the cupola, towering high above the house, eclipsed the rays of the moon and threw a long pointed shadow across the ground at my left. The other fountain some distance away was ornamented with the figure of a stone fish, a fish whose empty eye-sockets were leering straight in my direction. And the climax of it all--the wall! At intervals of every three feet on the top of the street expanse were mounted crude carven stone shapes of birds. And counting them I saw that those birds were twenty-six bluejays." He had just previously encounter'd ye description of the fountain in a strange obscure book. And then he encounters the eerie veiled woman and his mammoth hound.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 February, 2016 10:14PM
In "The Double Shadow", the repetition of the fate of each of the two preceding participants in the invocation, one of which was dead--a mummy, and one would think past all mortal threat or fear--was very very threatening and disturbing.

The is no escape.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 3 Feb 16 | 10:15PM by Sawfish.

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2016 01:32PM
What has really stuck in my mind is the scene in The Purple Cloud by M.P.Shiel where the main character comes to the large lake with the inscribed pillar in its center. Really intense. So is the part in The Dark Chapter by Leonard Cline where the old pseudo-scientist describes a strange dream which he once had and in which he was in the presence of gigantic and hideous reptiles in a tropic pool - it is not said in the story but from what he says it is quite clear it was not a dream but a fragment of something what he dug out of his ancestral memory and what had really happened – to his remote animal prehistoric forefather.
Also the final scenes in The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen with the main femine character turning into into the primal slime and then back into human form again before she dies are great.
I cannot but mention The Badlands by John Metcalfe where a neurotic hero finds a strange and dream-like house in woods and peeps into its old room with a spinning-wheel the padle of which moves all of a sudden without anybody being in sight.

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: jimrockhill2001 (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2016 07:10PM
Too many to list, but here are a few:

The alternation and weaving together of lyrical nature painting with supernatural phenomena in Le Fanu's "Ultor de Lacy", "The Haunted Baronet" and "The Child that Went with the Fairies". Sometimes the supernatural erupts into the scene as when the gigantic shrieking figure "came tumbling and bounding headlong down through the rocks, and fell with a fearful impetus just before his horse's hoofs and there lay like a huge palpitating carcass" before blocking the progress of the priest, but it usually emerges out of the landscape, adding a note of menace without disrupting any of its beauty.

The final line of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw" - so matter-of-fact, and yet so devastating.

The descriptions of the family falling prey to the "staring thing which bit and chewed at" them in Lovecraft's "The Shunned House".

The image of the hanged cat scorched into the wall of the burned home in Poe's "The Black Cat".

Prince Zotulla fighting against his mirror image as the macrocosmic stallions turn to the final building standing at the end of CAS's "The Dark Eidolon" and Thasaidon's pronouncement to the bewildered shepherd/king at the end of "Xeethra".

The strains of "Oranges and Lemons" underlining the progress of the avenging ghost in Hartley's "A Visitor from Down Under".

The bird spreading un-parrot-like pinions and snatching up the soul of the dying man at the end of John Collier's "Bird of Prey".

The interview with the inhabitants of the hypertrophied doll house at the end of Aickman's "The Inner Room".

The nightmare encounter with the dead mother in Bierce's "The Death of Halpin Frayser".

The crackling family awaiting the protagonist in his home in Ramsey Campbell's "In the Bag", the monkey "relishing each separate word" that pronounces the children's doom at the end of "The Trick" and source of the echo in "The Pattern".

What lies waiting in Grabinski's "Area".

If I don't stop now, I never will.

One moment after another in Dunsany, especially the first 4 story collections.

The spiders described as kittens in M. R. James's "The Ash-Tree" and the third lock falling onto Wraxall's foot in "Count Magnus".

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: Avoosl Wuthoqquan (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2016 03:40PM
Fun thread! Here are some of my faves.

From Suldrun’s Garden (Lyonesse book 1), by Jack Vance:

The surviving magicians, with the exception of Desmëi, invoked pressures which Sartzanek could not repugn. He was compressed into an iron post seven feet tall and four inches square, so that only upon careful scrutiny might his distorted features be noted. […] The Sartzanek post was implanted at the very peak of Mount Agon. Whenever lightning struck down, Sartzanek’s etched features were said to twitch and quiver.

From ‘A Narrow Escape’, by Lord Dunsany:

[The magician] decided one evening over his evil pipe, down there in his dank chamber, that London had lived long enough […].

From Figures of Earth, by James Branch Cabell (this passage is a satirical response to the legal kerfuffle over the perceived obscenity of Cabell’s book Jurgen; the brilliantly weird bit comes at the end):

“[...] The point is that the babies of the Philistines are brought to them by the stork; and that even an allusion to the possibility of misguided persons obtaining a baby in any other way these Philistines consider to be offensive and lewd and lascivious and obscene.”

“Why, how droll of them! But are you sure of that, Manuel!”

“All their best-thought-of and most popular writers, my dear, are unanimous upon the point; and their Seranim have passed any number of laws, their oil-merchants have founded a guild, especially to prosecute such references. No, there is, to be sure, a dwindling sect which favors putting up with what babies you may find in the cabbage patch, but all really self-respecting people when in need of offspring arrange to be visited by the stork.”

“It is certainly a remarkable custom, but it sounds convenient if you can manage it,” said Niafer. “What I want is the baby, though, and of course we must try to get the baby in the manner of the Philistines, if you know that manner, for I am sure I have no wish to offend anybody.”

So Manuel prepared to get a baby in the manner preferred by the Philistines. He performed the suitable incantation, putting this and that together in the manner formerly employed by the Thessalian witches and sorcerers, and he cried aloud a very ancient if indecent charm from the old Latin, saying, as Queen Stultitia had told him to say, without any mock-modest mincing of words:

Dictum est antiqua sandalio mulier habitavit,
Quae multos pueros habuit tum ut potuit nullum
Quod faciundum erat cognoscere. Sic Domina Anser.

Then Manuel took from his breast-pocket a piece of blue chalk and five curious objects something like small black stars. With the chalk he drew upon the floor two parallel straight lines. Manuel walked on one of these chalk lines very carefully, then beckoned Niafer to him. Standing there, he put his arms about her and kissed her. Then he placed the five black stars in a row,--

* * * * *

--and went over to the next line.

The stork having been thus properly summoned [...]”

The Vance and Dunsany examples really fire my imagination: what does it look like exactly when someone is “compressed into an iron post”, especially by “invoked pressures” which he could not “repugn”? And how can a pipe be evil (a beautiful pathetic fallacy)?

The Cabell example jumped out at me, because its breaks the fourth wall, making the fictional world have an immediate effect in the world of the reader, reminding you that you are reading a book, but somehow enhancing the experience, rather than taking you out of the story. It’s hard to explain. Academics may have a fancy word for it; I call it magic.

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 September, 2016 07:44PM
Arthur C. Clarke, The City and the Stars: A slideway (wide sidewalk or road) that transports people around the city, instead of vehicles. The further in on the slideway you step, the faster it moves. The moving material under your feet is some weird form of substance in-between solid and liquid. If you have not read this novel, I bet you can not guess what happens to the slideway at the end station!

David Lindsay, The Haunted Woman: The old house of a downland estate has hidden rooms into another metaphysical dimension, that makes visitors see things more truthfully in themselves and others, without mental or social restraints. The window in one of these rooms looks out on a view of the past (1700s), when the downs were more green and pastoral. Below the window, on a sloping lawn, sits someone with his back toward the window, well dressed in roquelaure and other typical clothes of the time. He has beautiful strangely long hair, and is playing a haunting a fiddle. (Is this possibly one of the trolls, said in the beginning of the book to have haunted the estate in the past? This is not the traditional way I picture a troll, which makes the situation all the more unsettling.) Finally the fiddler rises, and turns around, ... we never actually see his face. ... But we see the face of the viewer at the window, and his reaction. ... He goes mad.
I found this scene very creepy.

Re: Favorite weird and supernatural moments in literature.
Posted by: GreenMan (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2016 10:39AM
Lafcadio Hearn's short story "Mujina" is little more than a page long, and to my mind the perfect horror story. The last line always evokes a shudder when I read it.
"...And, simultaneously, the light went out."

It can easily be found online and down-loaded.

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