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Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 09:03AM
By the way, Meyrink wrote many short stories, some of them very bizzare and weird. The best ones are probably “Dr. Cinderella´s Plants“ about hideous experiments with plants and human bodies, “Das Präparat“ (I do not know if this story has been translated into English) where certain things of a room equipment (the bell-pull, the clock, the door-knob) are made of parts of a human body, and “Der Verdunstete Gehrin“ (also not sure if this one exists in an English translation) dealing with a crazy, deadly hallucination produced by consumption of poisonous mushrooms. Meyrink is definitely worth reading though sometimes he is hard to understand and tedious in places.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 01:32PM
Wow!

Great recommendation!

The Golem is available in German, from Project Gutenberg. I wish I could read it in the native language.

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

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 01:40PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Beautiful old Prague? ...
> "Golem" takes place strictly in the Jewish ghetto
> before the huge sanation (almost 150 unique houses
> were pulled down) that took place in the first
> years of the 19. Century. So the reader cannot
> expect some beautiful architecture, .... old, dirty houses; mysterious,
> ill-lit alleys; inscrutable nooks; nets of
> underground vaulted cellars etc. On the other
> hand, this decrepit and unattractive environment
> perfectly matches the story.

I see, not all pleasant then, ... although I am sure Lovecraft for one, would have enjoyed exploring the underground vaulted cellars, and alleys with spectral peaked gables, in an ecstatic mood of "adventurous expectancy".


Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> By the way, Meyrink wrote many short stories, some
> of them very bizzare and weird. The best ones are
> probably “Dr. Cinderella´s Plants“ about
> hideous experiments with plants and human bodies,
> “Das Präparat“ (I do not know if this story
> has been translated into English) where certain
> things of a room equipment (the bell-pull, the
> clock, the door-knob) are made of parts of a human
> body, and “Der Verdunstete Gehrin“ (also not
> sure if this one exists in an English translation)
> dealing with a crazy, deadly hallucination
> produced by consumption of poisonous mushrooms.
> Meyrink is definitely worth reading though
> sometimes he is hard to understand and tedious in
> places.

Sounds interesting, ... and rather decadent. Makes me think of Ewers and his Alraune (by the way, is Alraune available online in the original English translation by Guy Endore?), who was also writing around the same time in central Europe. Very different from the contemporary writers up in England; Blackwood, Machen, M. R. James, and W. H. Hodgson. The variance between Germanic and Anglo-Saxon cultural approach, I assume, although I can't quite put my finger on the dividing line in this context.

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?588823

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 02:33PM
I have not read "Alrune" (though I have the book) but I have read cca. twelve stories by Hans Heinz Ewers and most of them did not impress me very much. "The Spider" is a classic and the best story by him (though the plot strongly reminds me of "The Inn at the Red Dragon" by the obscure Czech writer Jiri Josef Kolar). "The Blue Indians" is nothing to write home about but I liked the idea of ancestral memory that is the focus of the story and which was later used by horror/sci-fi/weird fiction writers. "Die Topharbraut" (I do not know if this one has been translated into English) is also a little creepy tale about a strange relation between the death of a young girl and an old mummy in a museum, that was supposed to have been found during excavations in Egypt. The rest of the stories were very weak, tedious, long-winded sometimes. As you say, they are a far cry from Machen, Blackwood and other English contemporaries of Ewers produced. (Though, speaking of English authors of that era, I must say Ewers sometimes reminded me of some short works by Aleister Crowley)

Back to Meyrink; yes, the book you mention in your post contains stories definitely worth reading (and, as a bonus, there is a picture of Prague on the cover, as I can see :-)). "Bal Macabre", "Dr. Cinderella´s Plants" and "The Preparation" are definitely the best stories I have read by Meyrink so far.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 March, 2019 02:58PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Wow!
>
> Great recommendation!
>
> The Golem is available in German, from Project
> Gutenberg. I wish I could read it in the native
> language.


It is a great book though I must say it could be much shorter; there are passages that are almost boring). Also, Meyrink is sometimes uselessly over-complex in expressing his ideas so it requires all your attention in reading to understand what he wants to say. (and, to be honest, sometimes I did not get fully what the author meant, sometimes I needed to read this or that several times to understand ...) It is a weird book, one of them you probably need to read more than once to comprehend it exactly.

I also must say a potential reader of it should not expect any moving beings made of mud appear in the book; except for the title, it has no connection with the old Jewish legend. :-)
[en.wikipedia.org]

P.S. I made a mistake in my previous post; the sanation of the Jewish ghetto was in the first years of the 20th Century, not of the 20th.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12 Mar 19 | 03:01PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2019 12:52PM
I just read "The Colossus of Ylourgne" and found no similarity between it and "The Golem" at all.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 17 March, 2019 07:50PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I just read "The Colossus of Ylourgne" and found
> no similarity between it and "The Golem" at all.


Sorry to hear that. Hope you still enjoyed it, so your time was not all wasted.

It was very long ago I read "The Colossus of Ylourgne", but I seem to remember that sorcery was used to build an animated giant from smaller parts piled together, somewhat like the creation of a golem. I believe Clive Barker's story "In the Hills, the Cities" also has some similarity to "The Colossus of Ylourgne".

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 07:09AM
The original Jewish legend of Golem is about a rabbi who creates a powerful humanoid being (he uses clay) to serve him, but Meyrink´ "Golem" is something very different; it is an unknown being that is supposed to materialize itself in a special empty room in one of the old houses in the ghetto every thirty three years. To be honest, "The Colossus of Ylourgne" is one of the weaker stories by CAS; I prefer horror to fantasy. :-)

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 02:22PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The original Jewish legend of Golem is about a
> rabbi who creates a powerful humanoid being (he
> uses clay) to serve him, but Meyrink´ "Golem" is
> something very different; it is an unknown being
> that is supposed to materialize itself in a
> special empty room in one of the old houses in the
> ghetto every thirty three years. To be honest,
> "The Colossus of Ylourgne" is one of the weaker
> stories by CAS; I prefer horror to fantasy. :-)

While Colossus isn't one of my favorite stories, I don't think it's fair to declare it to be weak just because you prefer one genre over another. Smith himself stated that he preferred writing fantasy over other genres (or at least over science-fiction) and I think it shows in the quality of many of his fantasy tales.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 18 Mar 19 | 02:38PM by Yluos.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 03:47PM
I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse, The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and natural, I guess.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 04:41PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I
> would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great
> (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse,
> The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of
> the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre
> (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber
> or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and
> natural, I guess.


I didn't want you to say you liked it. Like I said, it's not my favorite story either; it plods in several segments and feels a little pointless in itself. I just don't think it's fair to declare it to be poor on the basis of its genre.

I agree that the stories you listed are among the best and worst of his work, but I don't think genre has much to do with that. After all, some fantasy stories are better than others, just as some horror stories are better than other horror stories, and science-fiction and realism and children's literature and so on.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 18 Mar 19 | 04:49PM by Yluos.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 18 March, 2019 07:09PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I tried to be honest. Had I said I liked it, I
> would have lied. Some of CAS´s stories are great
> (The Uncharted Island, The Supernumerary Corpse,
> The Double Cosmos or Genius Loci which is one of
> the best stories I ever read), some are mediocre
> (The Enchantress Of Sylaire, The Haunted Chamber
> or The Ninth Skeleton) which is quite normal and
> natural, I guess.


Of these, I've read only The Enchantress of Sylaire and The Uncharted Island.

There are a bunch of CAS stories that seem to deal with the exploration of the solar system. These are mostly really weak so far as characterization and dialogue. I can't recall many titles, but typically you'd have two or more sort of 19th C adventurer-types and they'd want to explore something and get into a big jam.

Of the ones that work are The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis and Vulthoom.

Did you lke A Vintage from Atlantis?

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 18 Mar 19 | 07:11PM by Sawfish.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 04:02AM
Frankly, I am not a huge fan of stories about 17th Century buccaneers but this one is not bad at all. I have read cca. fifty stories by C.A.Smith and I cannot remember what most of them were about but the plot of "A Vintage from Atlantis" I can recall to mind very easily.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 07:18AM
I recently reread Smith's Atlantis stories, after about 25 years. I was on vacation to a beautiful volcanic Atlantic island, and had brought appropriate reading matter for the evenings, Poseidonis (Ballantine, 1973).

The stories I read:

"The Last Incantation"
"The Death of Malygris"
"The Double Shadow"
"A Voyage to Sfanomoë"
"A Vintage from Atlantis"
"Symposium of the Gorgon" (Not Atlantis, but closely related, and a favorite of mine.)

Much has been said of these before, and I will be brief, preferring to hold my impressions in private. "The Last Incantation" is very famous, and often mentioned, but to me it reads mostly like a morality tale; the follow-up "The Death of Malygris" is much richer in imagination. My words can not even begin suggesting the genius of "The Double Shadow", so I will only say it is one of his two or three greatest masterpieces. "A Voyage to Sfanomoë" is beautiful, with a sad (or sardonically fatalistic) ending. I hardly remembered anything from my first reading of "A Vintage from Atlantis", because I was too young then to appreciate its subtly refined content. But now I find it the best text I have read that potently hints at the elevated and ecstatic lives and culture of the people of Atlantis.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Mar 19 | 07:33AM by Knygatin.

Re: A good weird/horror/sci-fi book to recommend
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 March, 2019 01:39PM
Great post!

I'll reply interleaved, and from memory, which may be flawed...

Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I recently reread Smith's Atlantis stories, after
> about 25 years. I was on vacation to a beautiful
> volcanic Atlantic island, and had brought
> appropriate reading matter for the evenings,
> Poseidonis (Ballantine, 1973).
>
> The stories I read:
>
> "The Last Incantation"
> "The Death of Malygris"
> "The Double Shadow"
> "A Voyage to Sfanomoë"
> "A Vintage from Atlantis"
> "Symposium of the Gorgon" (Not Atlantis, but
> closely related, and a favorite of mine.)

Hah! Liked it as well! It almost seemed like the narrative POV was a proxy for Smith, himself, when young... :^)

An "alcoholically flaming youth", indeed!

>
> Much has been said of these before, and I will be
> brief, preferring to hold my impressions in
> private. "The Last Incantation" is very famous,
> and often mentioned, but to me it reads mostly
> like a morality tale;

Is this the one in which the damned near omnipotent Malygris asks his familiar, a small snake, as I recall, if it would be a good idea to call up the phantom of his first love?

> the follow-up "The Death of
> Malygris" is much richer in imagination.

Absolutely!

The setting is almost cinematographic, where they meet in a sort of dungeon to probe whether Malygris is dead or alive.

Then, about half of the participants sneaking away in the night, providing a sort of dreadful foreshadowing...

Too, it's an odd feeling for the reader when the familiar leaves at the end of the story, indicating that this time Malygris is dead. It implies that he stayed in a semi-dead state only long enough to wreak vengeance on his rivals--a final act of focused hubris and apparently motivated by Malygris' ability to foresee his own end.

This is entirely believable within the character context CAS created for Malygris. No small feat, in my opinion. Here I am, a 21st C cynic in his 70s, and I'm publicly admitting to believing that there could be a guy like Malygris.

Hah!

> My words
> can not even begin suggesting the genius of "The
> Double Shadow", so I will only say it is one of
> his two or three greatest masterpieces.

It is my single favorite CAS story.

I get a sort of thematic linkage to Masque of the Red Death--inescapable doom within a fixed setting. The story is filled with not only atmosphere, but very nifty narrative devices. For example, using a mummy, a dead entity that so far as the reader might surmise, is past all suffering, as one of the participants in the incantation, later to be possessed and transmogrified into--what?--amps up the threat to the narrative voice, the acolyte, because if death can't save him, nothing can, it would appear.


> "A Voyage
> to Sfanomoë" is beautiful, with a sad (or
> sardonically fatalistic) ending.

I can't remember it. It may be about two Atlantean scientist brothers who escape to Venus(?) and are hijacked by the plantlife there.

> I hardly
> remembered anything from my first reading of "A
> Vintage from Atlantis", because I was too young
> then to appreciate its subtly refined content. But
> now I find it the best text I have read that
> potently hints at the elevated and ecstatic lives
> and culture of the people of Atlantis.

The POV of the narration, a tea-totaling pirate, who witnessed the effect of the wine, then was forced to drink some, thereby experiencing its attenuated effects, was just great, in my opinion. Again, hugely atmospheric and near-visually concrete.

Thanks for sharing. A great exchange!

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

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