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Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 03:57PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My intention, Platypus -- if this helps -- with
> this thread is for us to develop a bibliography
> (with accompanying "annotation") of stories that
> get across an eerie sensation without, at most,
> doing more than to suggest the supernatural or the
> fantastic.

In that case I would suggest the stories of Walter de la Mare. Some of them are clearly supernatural, but others are so subtle as to merely give a slight and yet unsettling tilt to the mundane and ordinary. De la Mare is for the true connoisseur.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 04:44PM
Knygatin, "Great minds think alike," as the wry expression has it. I've just been reading de la Mare the past few weeks -- The Return and a couple of stories so far, plus dipping into Behold, This Dreamer!

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 04:55PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My intention, Platypus -- if this helps -- with
> this thread is for us to develop a bibliography
> (with accompanying "annotation") of stories that
> get across an eerie sensation without, at most,
> doing more than to suggest the supernatural or the
> fantastic. Personally I'd probably shy away,
> here, from stories like "The Monkey's Paw" that
> seem to be stories of the supernatural even if the
> supernatural element isn't quite undeniable.


In that case, I'd still encourage you to check out the Le Fanu story I mentioned, if you are not already familiar with it. I can't be sure it's what you're looking for, but I think it comes much closer to your criteria than "The Monkey's Paw". Le Fanu just seems to have gone as far as he could in spooking out the reader without having anything inexplicable actually occur; which seems to be the whole point of the piece.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 06:19PM
Knygatin Wrote:
> In that case I would suggest the stories of Walter
> de la Mare.


A good mention.

I might add that certain of de la Mare's tales use a "story within a story" framework that tends to distance the narrator (and the reader) from any hard confrontations with the supernatural suggestions of the tale. For instance, in "Seaton's Aunt" what the narrator himself sees and hears amounts to little; but are we entirely to ignore what Seaton thinks? In "All Hallows" the narrator may see one or two slightly strange things, but it is only through the testimony, opinions, and theories of the verger that our conclusions are nudged in certain directions.

In a similar vein, what about "The White People" by Arthur Machen? It uses a "story within a story" framework in the form of a diary of a young girl; and beyond that, there is very little about what the young girl writes that a remotely skeptical person would interpret as proof of supernatural occurrences. Ambrose has his opinion and interpretation of the diary, and some additional information, but the narrator keeps his opinions to himself.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22 Aug 20 | 06:20PM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 06:30PM
Le Fanu is an interesting example of plausible deniability - I'm thinking specifically of Green Tea. Le Fanu was writing at a time when people started to seriously question whether the supernatural existed at all, and apparently Green Tea was an attempt at a story for which there was both a rational and a supernatural explanation: either the old clergyman really is being haunted by some visitation from Hell, or he's become susceptible to hallucinations due to drinking too much green tea. The reader can choose which version he or she prefers.

De le Mare is very good at establishing mood without being specific (to sometimes frustrating effect, I reckon) - I found The Green Room terrifying, but still amn't sure if it actually delivered. A lot of his stuff is like that (although All Hallows is a classic).

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 06:42PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Le Fanu is an interesting example of plausible
> deniability - I'm thinking specifically of Green
> Tea. Le Fanu was writing at a time when people
> started to seriously question whether the
> supernatural existed at all, and apparently Green
> Tea was an attempt at a story for which there was
> both a rational and a supernatural explanation:
> either the old clergyman really is being haunted
> by some visitation from Hell, or he's become
> susceptible to hallucinations due to drinking too
> much green tea. The reader can choose which
> version he or she prefers.

The stated choice in the film, The Life of Pi.

>
> De le Mare is very good at establishing mood
> without being specific (to sometimes frustrating
> effect, I reckon) - I found The Green Room
> terrifying, but still amn't sure if it actually
> delivered. A lot of his stuff is like that
> (although All Hallows is a classic).

De la Mar seemed to really understand suggestibility in All Hallows. The narrative POV arrives at the church after a long and tiring walk and is overwhelmed by its appearance. He gets what amounts to a private, after hours tour by the verger, who is idiosyncratic if nothing else, and so the POV is in a very receptive frame of mind for what follows.

But we never really know for sure if anything happened, at all.

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

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 04:00AM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Le Fanu is an interesting example of plausible
> deniability - I'm thinking specifically of Green
> Tea. Le Fanu was writing at a time when people
> started to seriously question whether the
> supernatural existed at all, and apparently Green
> Tea was an attempt at a story for which there was
> both a rational and a supernatural explanation:
> either the old clergyman really is being haunted
> by some visitation from Hell, or he's become
> susceptible to hallucinations due to drinking too
> much green tea. The reader can choose which
> version he or she prefers.

I found the final chapter of "Green Tea", in which Dr. Hesselius pontificates to his his friend Van Loo, to be almost comical, as if Le Fanu had written it with tongue firmly in cheek. Hesselius argues that he has never lost a patient to this malady. One would think that Jennings proves otherwise, but Hesselius argues that Jennings was never REALLY his patient. Then Hesselius ends by arguing that Jennings did not die of the malady itself, but of hereditary suicidal mania.

But you may possibly be misremembering Hesselius' theory. Hesselius does not believe that the green tea caused hallucinations, but rather that it opens the inner eye, and allows the sufferer to perceive an actual demon.

But then again, the reader does not have to believe Dr. Hesselius either. He can instead believe Dr. Harley, who thinks the monkey is indeed a hallucination. Alternatively, one could believe Jennings the victim of a real demonic haunting, but still be skeptical of Dr. Hesselius' claimed ability to fix spiritual problems via pseudoscientific remedies.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 23 Aug 20 | 04:16AM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 05:51AM
Several "experts" maintain that Robert Aickman is the greatest writer ever of supernatural stories. And they go on and on - it is almost like a religion. But he is rarely mentioned on this forum. Don't you like him?

Aickman's stories are defined as 'strange', and I suppose some of his work would fit into this thread. Or perhaps he could be termed surrealist. Some stories more clearly supernatural. I have not read a lot by him, and my favorite stories so far are probably "The Wine-Dark Sea" and "The Inner Room". But I find much of his writing too intellectually cool, and clinical, for me to spontaneously want to return to him. There is beauty in it, for sure, but ... .

I will read more, that I do intend, ... not so much by way of heart, as by nervous curiosity.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 23 Aug 20 | 06:12AM by Knygatin.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 06:02AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Aickman's stories are defined as 'strange', and I
> suppose some of his work would fit into this
> thread. Or perhaps he could be termed
> surrealist.

Or a symbolist. He is clearly interested in psychology.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 01:27PM
Apparently a lot of Aickman's stories were inspired by his dreams - more specifically, writing the stories was his way of working through his issues. My impression is that his output was pretty small. I read two collections, and actually think only a couple of stories really stand-out - ie, The Swords and The Inner Room, both of which are very suggestive of dreams.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 23 Aug 20 | 01:29PM by Cathbad.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 03:01PM
John Meade Falkner, anyone? His The Lost Stradivarius is a ghost story and, so, disqualified for the present discussion. but as I recall The Nebuly Coat would qualify.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 03:24PM
Platypus Wrote:
> I found the final chapter of "Green Tea", in which
> Dr. Hesselius pontificates to his his friend Van
> Loo, to be almost comical, as if Le Fanu had
> written it with tongue firmly in cheek. Hesselius
> argues that he has never lost a patient to this
> malady. One would think that Jennings proves
> otherwise, but Hesselius argues that Jennings was
> never REALLY his patient. Then Hesselius ends by
> arguing that Jennings did not die of the malady
> itself, but of hereditary suicidal mania.

Just adding to what I said before ....

With ready excuses such as these it is easy to see how Dr. Hesselius is able to claim a 100% cure rate for this particular malady.

Which leads to another thought. Is the green tea a red herring? If Dr. Hesselius' opinions are unreliable, then all bets are off. At the time the demon-monkey first appeared to Jennings, Jennings had been engaged in some kind of illusively-described pagan/occult research. Not as obvious as saying he had been reading the Necronomicon, but still ....

I suppose I am now getting a bit off topic, except to the extent that I am arguing that "Green Tea" really is meant to be a supernatural story after all. But of course none of that changes the fact that there is a good degree of deliberate ambiguity.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2020 03:38PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The Swords and The Inner Room, both of which
> are very suggestive of dreams.


Very much so.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 11:41AM
Any admirers of John Keir Cross here? Not sure if he (partly) belongs in this category.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 07:32PM
De la Mare's "Miss Duveen" and "Missing" might qualify.

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