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All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2018 10:52AM
Hi,

Does anybody know what was the source of the "haunting" in All-Hallows by Walter de la Mare? since I read the short story years ago, I have been wondering what influence could it be that was at work in the old cathedral ...

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2018 05:41PM
I read this story a bunch of times because what I think de la Mare accomplished, masterfully, is narrative uncertainty. Not only are we not sure what the source of the "haunting" is, we're not even absolutely sure that there <i>is</i> one--the narrative POV, the guy who hiked down to All Hallows, is very ambivalent about what he's seeing/hearing/experiencing.

But if we assume that there is any objective accuracy in what the verger claims, it seems nothing less than a Manichaen struggle of absolute good versus absolute evil.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2018 11:34PM
This is one of my least favorite de la Mare stories, whether it be well written or not. I just don't find the idea of evil forces attacking the foundations and stone of a church convincing conceptually, but rather silly.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 July, 2018 11:48PM
I do believe that houses can be haunted, and that it indirectly can lead to deterioration of the house by neglect from the lodgers.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 July, 2018 11:33AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is one of my least favorite de la Mare
> stories, whether it be well written or not. I just
> don't find the idea of evil forces attacking the
> foundations and stone of a church convincing
> conceptually, but rather silly.


In spirit of Mel Brooks' declaration that "It's comedy when you fall down the stairs, but tragedy when <i>I</i> fall down the stairs...", what can be seen as silly by one can be seen as oddly inexplicable, and hence fey, by another. I'm seeing the piecemeal replacement of the holy motifs by distorted travesties as both original and metaphysically threatening.

But switching my perceptions slightly, I can see the idea of a sort of Satanic "This Old House" restoration project as pretty funny, as you suggest.

I don't know: I guess I am attracted to narratives that are from what may be a distorted POV--in this case it is the verger's POV as related by the daytripper. I really liked <i>The Tin Drum</i>, for that reason.

Thanks for the exchange!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22 Jul 18 | 11:37AM by Sawfish.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2018 02:09AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> In spirit of Mel Brooks' declaration that "It's
> comedy when you fall down the stairs, but tragedy
> when I fall down the stairs...",

That is just plain mean. He is not funny. He is a bombastic loudmouthed jerk. Typical overpowering Hollywood product, shoved upon American/European people.

And he is hardly applicable in the same context as a subtle and elevated artist like Walter de la Mare. Or mystical genius Clark Ashton Smith.

> what can be seen as silly by one can be seen as oddly inexplicable,
> and hence fey, by another.
>

But I understand what you say, and I know from reading your posts that you have a passionate and deep appreciation for fantastic literature. De la Mare can surely be read and interpreted on several levels. Perhaps if I reread "All-Hallows", I will notice more of its fey qualities, and let go of my first impression of its concept being unconvincing and silly.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2018 02:22PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Does anybody know what was the source of the
> "haunting" in All-Hallows by Walter de la Mare?

If the verger's ideas can be trusted, it is demons; devils; the forces of Satan.

It is evil imagined, not merely as a force of decay and dissolution, but as an active force within the World, that reshapes the World (and in this case parts of the cathedral) to its own ends.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 24 Jul 18 | 02:31PM by Platypus.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2018 02:29PM
Sawfish Wrote:
> But if we assume that there is any objective
> accuracy in what the verger claims, it seems
> nothing less than a Manichaen struggle of absolute
> good versus absolute evil.

The verger is our only real perspective on the phenomenon, and the verger is not a Manichaean. But he does believe that real demonic forces are actually at work in the World, and in the cathedral.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 24 July, 2018 03:02PM
Knygatin Wrote:
> > In spirit of Mel Brooks' declaration that "It's
> > comedy when you fall down the stairs, but
> tragedy
> > when I fall down the stairs...",
>
> That is just plain mean. He is not funny. He is a
> bombastic loudmouthed jerk. Typical overpowering
> Hollywood product, shoved upon American/European
> people.

True enough, I suppose. But he has occasionally succeeded in making me laugh. And offends me far less than some others.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 25 July, 2018 02:48PM
Thanks a lot for the answers.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2018 12:46PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> > But if we assume that there is any objective
> > accuracy in what the verger claims, it seems
> > nothing less than a Manichaen struggle of
> absolute
> > good versus absolute evil.
>
> The verger is our only real perspective on the
> phenomenon, and the verger is not a Manichaean.
> But he does believe that real demonic forces are
> actually at work in the World, and in the
> cathedral.

I don't think that the theological stance of the observer of the phenomenon matters, except, perhaps, as it relates to how he frames his observation. So what we've got is an old guy, Manichean or otherwise, committed his whole life to the promise of Christ's supremacy, relating that even in the house of Christ, evil is battling good. This sure sounds like the basic "good vs evil" duality that's present in a lot of splinter interpretations. Sort of that good ol' Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainu struggle--no shades of gray, you're either with us or against us... :^)

What gives this story additional weight is that evil is contesting not for the imperfect soul of an individual, but is confronting the powers of good on its home turf--a cathedral--and apparently gaining ground. This adds a sort of urgency to the situation--much more threat than otherwise.

It operates something like an anecdote in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, where some captured American soldiers are loaded into a cattle car and transported, in terrible, terrible conditions, to Germany.

Almost all of the soldiers, many of them young and inexperienced, are quite distressed and frightened, fearing for their lives. One of the captives is an older man, who had been a wandering tramp, and had experienced a lot of privation and hardship. He tells the young soldiers, "You think this is bad, you should have been living out-of-doors in Chicago, like I did, in the winter of '38. This is nothing...".

Of course, this gives them a bit of perspective, and coincidentally, hope.

The next morning a couple of the soldiers had died of exposure, but the ex-bum essentially repeated what he had said the day before--that he'd seen lots worse and still was among the living. And again, this provided hope...

The next morning, more of the soldiers had died, and among them was the ex-bum.

BAM!!! Hope evaporates....

This is what happens, less dramatically, when one considers that a consecrated place of worship can be successfully attacked by the forces of evil.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2018 02:16PM
Sawfish Wrote:
> I don't think that the theological stance of the
> observer of the phenomenon matters, except,
> perhaps, as it relates to how he frames his
> observation.

If the verger's perspective does not matter, then whose does? Without the verger's observations, there is hardly any story at all, and without the verger's interpretations, there is not much more.

What Walter De La Mare presents to us, he presents to us through the verger.

I'm open to the idea that the verger is not reliable in his observations and/or his interpretations. I am open to the idea that Walter De La Mare disagrees with his ideas and interpretations. But this must be an argument based on the text. It cannot merely be an excuse for ignoring the text.

> So what we've got is an old guy,
> Manichean or otherwise, committed his whole life
> to the promise of Christ's supremacy, relating
> that even in the house of Christ, evil is battling
> good. This sure sounds like the basic "good vs
> evil" duality that's present in a lot of splinter
> interpretations. Sort of that good ol' Ahura
> Mazda/Angra Mainu struggle --no shades of gray,
> you're either with us or against us... :^)

You are equating old-school Christian Orthodoxy with Manichaeanism merely because neither of them are post-modern moral relativism.

The verger clearly believes that Evil is a force in the World; but there is no hint that he believes that Evil and Good are ultimately equal in power. So, while he is not a post-modernist, neither is he a Manichaean.

I don't see any basis for the suggestion that the verger has a "with us or against us" mentality. He turns to the narrator for comfort in spite of the fact, and even because of the fact, that the narrator is not very religious. He calls down no harsh judgments on the Church officials who ignore his concerns; and barely presumes to judge them at all.

> What gives this story additional weight is that
> evil is contesting not for the imperfect soul of
> an individual, but is confronting the powers of
> good on its home turf--a cathedral--and apparently
> gaining ground. This adds a sort of urgency to the
> situation--much more threat than otherwise.

I see no hint of any suggestion that the verger thinks that what is happening in the cathedral is somehow more urgent than the soul of an individual.

To him, the manifestations in the cathedral are merely one manifestation of a larger issue - that evil really is abroad in the World. He also mentions "the Great War" (that is, World War I) in this context. He does not seem to think that the demons who visit the place actually live there. He is far more bothered by the head-in-the-sand reactions of his religious superiors than by the mere fact that these manifestations are occurring here, at this particular obscure out-of-the-way spot.

> BAM!!! Hope evaporates....
> This is what happens, less dramatically, when one considers that a consecrated
> place of worship can be successfully attacked by the forces of evil.

The verger does not see it this way.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26 Jul 18 | 02:18PM by Platypus.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2018 05:00PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> > I don't think that the theological stance of
> the
> > observer of the phenomenon matters, except,
> > perhaps, as it relates to how he frames his
> > observation.
>
> If the verger's perspective does not matter,

Nope. We are talking about his "theological stance", not the much broader and undefined "perspective".

Let's stay on track, shall we?


> then
> whose does? Without the verger's observations,
> there is hardly any story at all, and without the
> verger's interpretations, there is not much more.

All that's true, but does not related directly to what I said--his "theological stance".

>
> What Walter De La Mare presents to us, he presents
> to us through the verger.
>
> I'm open to the idea that the verger is not
> reliable in his observations and/or his
> interpretations. I am open to the idea that
> Walter De La Mare disagrees with his ideas and
> interpretations. But this must be an argument
> based on the text. It cannot merely be an excuse
> for ignoring the text.

Where do you get the idea anyone is "ignoring the text"?

>
> > So what we've got is an old guy,
> > Manichean or otherwise, committed his whole
> life
> > to the promise of Christ's supremacy, relating
> > that even in the house of Christ, evil is
> battling
> > good. This sure sounds like the basic "good vs
> > evil" duality that's present in a lot of
> splinter
> > interpretations. Sort of that good ol' Ahura
> > Mazda/Angra Mainu struggle --no shades of gray,
> > you're either with us or against us... :^)
>
> You are equating old-school Christian Orthodoxy
> with Manichaeanism merely because neither of them
> are post-modern moral relativism.

No, I'm using "Manichean" as a convenient shorthard for "absolute good versus absolute evil". And this is a common colloquial usage in the same way that the term "Machievellian" is used to mean a sort of cynical real politik.

>
> The verger clearly believes that Evil is a force
> in the World; but there is no hint that he
> believes that Evil and Good are ultimately equal
> in power. So, while he is not a post-modernist,
> neither is he a Manichaean.

Again, I'm using "Manichean" to describe the nature of struggle de la Mare presents to the reader; I am making absolutely no claim to representing what the verger thinks are the the forces involved. He is, as you say, the sole actual claimant that All Hallows is under attack by forces that modify the cathedral, which he hints are evil. So to that end, it doesn't matter what he thinks is the cause, merely what physical manifestations he claims to have seen.

>
> I don't see any basis for the suggestion that the
> verger has a "with us or against us" mentality.

Nor do I, nor do I claim anything about the verger other than his description of what is happening to the church. Recall where I'm saying that he is:

"... relating that even in the house of Christ, evil is battling good. This [evil battling good] sure sounds like the basic "good vs evil" duality that's present in a lot of splinter interpretations. Sort of that good ol' Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainu struggle--no shades of gray, you're either with us or against us... :^) "

> He turns to the narrator for comfort in spite of
> the fact, and even because of the fact, that the
> narrator is not very religious. He calls down no
> harsh judgments

In fact, he does. He accuses them of hiding from the phenomenon, ignoring it, and if they are indeed vested churchmen, they are neglecting to fulfill their mission by allowing evil to progress, without opposition.

> on the Church officials who ignore
> his concerns; and barely presumes to judge them at
> all.

That does not bear upon his physical observations.

>
> > What gives this story additional weight is that
> > evil is contesting not for the imperfect soul
> of
> > an individual, but is confronting the powers of
> > good on its home turf--a cathedral--and
> apparently
> > gaining ground. This adds a sort of urgency to
> the
> > situation--much more threat than otherwise.
>
> I see no hint of any suggestion that the verger
> thinks that what is happening in the cathedral is
> somehow more urgent than the soul of an
> individual.

The narrative POV is not what the verger thinks, but what the hiker thinks might be happening, after all, he's the frame for the story. and he's basing his speculation on the verger's anecdotes, and the tour thru the superstructure. The verger's speculation that it's demonic force influences the hiker's speculation to a degree, but he also clearly entertains the idea that the verger is not a reliable observer.


>
> To him, the manifestations in the cathedral are
> merely one manifestation of a larger issue - that
> evil really is abroad in the World. He also
> mentions "the Great War" (that is, World War I) in
> this context. He does not seem to think that the
> demons who visit the place actually live there.
> He is far more bothered by the head-in-the-sand
> reactions of his religious superiors than by the
> mere fact that these manifestations are occurring
> here, at this particular obscure out-of-the-way
> spot.

Well, that's your assessment. The proximate cause of his discomfort with the "head-in-the-sand reactions of his religious superiors" is the demonic assault. We could test this a bit...

Case 1: The verger makes no claim of demonic assault and yet the superiors ignore other aspects of the cathedral that trouble the verge--perhaps the decline in attendance. Would this have been sufficient to motivate him to tell his tale to the hiker with the urgency that he did?

Case 2: The verger claims demonic assault but makes no judgement of his superiors' indifference. Would the the verger tell this tale to the hiker in the manner that he did?

Which case would seem to motivate the verger to a greater degree, knowing what we know of him?

>
> > BAM!!! Hope evaporates....
> > This is what happens, less dramatically, when
> one considers that a consecrated
> > place of worship can be successfully attacked by
> the forces of evil.
>
> The verger does not see it this way.

I'm commenting on the narrative device that establishes a degree of tone. In both cases, the assumed cause for hope (the life experience of the former bum, the supposed sanctity of the church) is dashed away, leaving the reader with the notion that things are a lot worse than previous.

BTW, I've enjoyed posting here because unlike the "outside world" forums, where I first started posting in '92, on Usenet, I had perceived a sort of fair-minded and convivial collegiality to be the tone here. But your pathetic misrepresentation of my positions, obviously so that you could attack something so as to demonstrate your acumen, is total and complete bullshit--the work of a sad and lonely pissant.

I'll just go away now, since the forum has been polluted by the likes of you.

Bye, all...

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2018 07:59PM
Sawfish Wrote:
> Nope. We are talking about his "theological
> stance", not the much broader and undefined
> "perspective".

We were discussing both. We were discussing what the verger presents to the reader. Your position, I thought, is that we should ignore the theological aspects of the verger's perspective.

> Where do you get the idea anyone is "ignoring the
> text"?

I got the impression that it was your position that we should ignore the theological aspects of what the verger presents to the reader. My humble position is that I see no reason to do so, absent evidence that the author disagrees with the verger.

> No, I'm using "Manichean" as a convenient
> shorthard for "absolute good versus absolute
> evil".

Well then, it is hardly my fault if I misunderstood you, is it?

> And this is a common colloquial usage

It can hardly be that common.

> Again, I'm using "Manichean" to describe the
> nature of struggle de la Mare presents to the
> reader; I am making absolutely no claim to
> representing what the verger thinks are the the
> forces involved. He is, as you say, the sole
> actual claimant that All Hallows is under attack
> by forces that modify the cathedral, which he
> hints are evil. So to that end, it doesn't matter
> what he thinks is the cause, merely what physical
> manifestations he claims to have seen.

If the physical manifestations are the only things that matter to the story, then it seems to me the story would have been a lot shorter. But the OP in this thread asked what was the source of these hauntings.

My answer is that there seems to be no other explanation, other than that offered by the verger. Maybe I should have just said "dunno".

> In fact, he does. He accuses them of hiding from
> the phenomenon, ignoring it, and if they are
> indeed vested churchmen, they are neglecting to
> fulfill their mission by allowing evil to
> progress, without opposition.

He hints this may be the case, yes. But he is still hesitant to call down harsh judgments. And yes, he does hint that the Church might face worse threats from those within than from those without. But that still does not call down harsh judgments on any specific persons. Certainly, his attitude towards individual persons is neither particularly judgmental nor particularly tribalistic. He is merely worried, in a general sense, about the state of the World and the state of the Church.

> The narrative POV is not what the verger thinks,
> but what the hiker thinks might be happening,
> after all, he's the frame for the story. and he's
> basing his speculation on the verger's anecdotes,
> and the tour thru the superstructure.

I'm just trying to answer the OP's question here. And it seems to me that the verger's explanation is the only answer we have.

As I said, if you have textual evidence that the narrator and/or the author ultimately disagree with the verger, I'm all ears.

> The verger's
> speculation that it's demonic force influences the
> hiker's speculation to a degree, but he also
> clearly entertains the idea that the verger is not
> a reliable observer.

Yes, the narrator briefly entertains the idea that the old verger is bit off his rocker. But I hardly think it is is ultimate conclusion, nor the message of the story.

Is that the answer that you would give the OP? That the source of the hauntings is the overactive imagination of a loony old man?

> Well, that's your assessment. The proximate cause
> of his discomfort with the "head-in-the-sand
> reactions of his religious superiors" is the
> demonic assault. We could test this a bit...
>
> Case 1: The verger makes no claim of demonic
> assault and yet the superiors ignore other aspects
> of the cathedral that trouble the verge--perhaps
> the decline in attendance. Would this have been
> sufficient to motivate him to tell his tale to the
> hiker with the urgency that he did?
>
> Case 2: The verger claims demonic assault but
> makes no judgement of his superiors' indifference.
> Would the the verger tell this tale to the hiker
> in the manner that he did?
>
> Which case would seem to motivate the verger to a
> greater degree, knowing what we know of him?

My assessment is based on what the verger says in the story. He says right out that he has confided in the narrator BECAUSE he is an outsider. He hints repeatedly that he believes the hauntings are the symptoms of a deeper problem.

> > > BAM!!! Hope evaporates....
> > > This is what happens, less dramatically, when
> > one considers that a consecrated
> > > place of worship can be successfully attacked
> by
> > the forces of evil.
> >
> > The verger does not see it this way.
>
> I'm commenting on the narrative device that
> establishes a degree of tone. In both cases, the
> assumed cause for hope (the life experience of the
> former bum, the supposed sanctity of the church)
> is dashed away, leaving the reader with the notion
> that things are a lot worse than previous.

All I am saying is that these ideas are not shared by the verger. He loses neither faith nor hope as a result of the desecration of the cathedral. The final paragraphs present this idea rather strikingly. His continued hope is symbolized in his grandchild.

> BTW, I've enjoyed posting here because unlike the
> "outside world" forums, where I first started
> posting in '92, on Usenet, I had perceived a sort
> of fair-minded and convivial collegiality to be
> the tone here. But your pathetic misrepresentation
> of my positions, obviously so that you could
> attack something so as to demonstrate your acumen,
> is total and complete bullshit--the work of a sad
> and lonely pissant.

> I'll just go away now, since the forum has been
> polluted by the likes of you.
>
> Bye, all...

I'm sorry you feel that way. I thought I was just trying to have a discussion, as well as trying to answer the OP's question as best I could. And I'm pretty sure I've not gotten personal with you or insulted you in any way.

Re: All-Hallows by de la Mare
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 31 July, 2018 07:47PM
Sawfish Wrote:

> Well, that's your assessment. The proximate cause
> of his discomfort with the "head-in-the-sand
> reactions of his religious superiors" is the
> demonic assault. We could test this a bit...

I answered this more briefly before. But here are a few quotes from the story that suggest, directly or indirectly, that the verger thinks the Church, and not the demons, are fundamentally at the heart of the problem. All the quotes below are from the verger:

"... I had been expecting matters to come to ... a head." "... simple common sense" was required. "Pomfrey might be with us now in his own self and reason if only common caution had been observed." "... they don't want to believe, what runs counter to their hopes and wishes and credibilities - and comfort - in this world ...". Canon Shougar "refuses to acknowledge that such things are what every fragment of evidence goes to prove that they are". "... no power or principality here or hereunder can take possession of a place while those inside have faith enough to keep them out. But once let that falter -- the seas are in." "... they refuse to see how close to the edge of things we are -- and how we are drifting". "Devils are creatures made by God, and that for vengeance". "What God sends, I say, we humans deserve. We have laid ourselves open to it." "... if you had told me half an hour gone by that you were a regular churchman, I shouldn't be pouring all this out to you now ...". "... I seem to have almost forgotten how to be afraid ... a man can only do his best, and if there weren't such opposition and hindrance in high places I should have nothing to complain of." "An institution may be beyond saving ... And a hundred trumpeting voices would make no difference when the faith and life within is tottering to its fall." "Maybe ... it's from them within we have most to fear."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 31 Jul 18 | 07:53PM by Platypus.



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