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Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 14 March, 2020 06:01PM
This thread is for the identification and discussion of stories that have a real quality of eeriness but do not involve the fantastic. I suppose there might be stories that could have a supernatural explanation, but this would not be the inevitable explanation. I would prefer to rule out stories that are plainly accounts of telepathy or precognition.

I suggest:

Novel: The Ice Palace, by Tarjei Vesaas
Movie: Vertigo
Story: "The Hour After Westerly," by Robert M. Coates. It is reprinted in Bradbury's Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow and first appeared in The New Yorker in 1947.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 14 Mar 20 | 06:08PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 11 April, 2020 03:36PM
Benighted by J.B. Priestley (1927). I enjoyed this tale of suspense which has all the attributes of a good gothic story (main characters stranded in an isolated old house, with an eccentric family living inside) but there is nothing supernatural about at all.
[www.goodreads.com]

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 12:04AM
Thank you, Minicthulhu. That’s a new book for me.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 12:17PM
Maybe UNCLE SILAS, by Sheridan Le Fanu. I'm not sure it is absolutely true that it has no supernatural elements. But certainly there is nothing too overt, or which cannot be rationalized away.

I guess fantastic stories with "Scooby Doo" endings (e.g. "The Hound of the Baskervilles") don't count.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 12:36PM
Maybe "The Picture in the House" by H.P. Lovecraft, if we ignore the hints at supernatural longevity.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 01:04PM
Some of Poe's famous horror tales contain nothing that one can explicitly identify as supernatural, such as
"The Black Cat" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "A Cask of Amontillado".


Poe also has stories where the only supernatural element may be a misperception. In "The Tell-Tale Heart", the beating heart he hears is no-doubt his own. And in "The Raven", the only supernatural element is a trained bird who can only say one word.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 01:05PM
"The Shamraken Homeward-Bounder" by William Hope Hodgson.

"Sredni Vashtar", by Saki.

In "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, the only "supernatural" element is the yellow wallpaper, which does indeed seem pretty supernatural by the end. However, it is commonly read as a portrait of a nervous breakdown.

Someone suggested to me THE BAT by Mary Roberts Rineheart, but I have not read it.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12 Apr 20 | 02:01PM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 02:35PM
"Seaton's Aunt", by Walter De La Mare. Admittedly, though, much of the eeriness comes from Seaton's terror of his aunt and his conviction that she is in league with the Devil. But there is not much in the way of actual evidence for this. IIRC, some other of De La Mare's "ghost stories" have a similarly ambiguous quality.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 02:47PM
I read "Uncle Silas" cca. a year ago so I can recall it very clearly and there is really nothing supernatural about the book.

I am sure a lot of stories by Maurice Level has "a real quality of eeriness".

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2020 03:13PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I read "Uncle Silas" cca. a year ago so I can
> recall it very clearly and there is really nothing
> supernatural about the book.

Well, there is the disembodied voice that warns her to "Fly the fangs of Belisarius". But if you prefer, that warning came from her own subconscious.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 17 April, 2020 12:56PM
"The Interlopers," by Saki.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2020 05:02PM
William Fryer Harvey. Some of his excellent weird stories feature deliberately inconclusive endings. In "Midnight House," the reader is left wondering if the twin nightmares experienced by the weary traveler in a very old, remote inn were supernaturally induced.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 12 August, 2020 12:10PM
"Eerie" is, I suppose, one of those subjective terms; at any rate:

"The Colour Out of Space," HPL
"The Voice in the Night," William Hope Hodgson
"The Dance of the Dwarfs," Geoffrey Household

Those three could be considered borderline SF.

"Xelucha" and "The House of Sounds," M. P. Shiel

"Don't Look Now," Daphne du Maurier (and its film adaptation). Although it does involve some psychic visions, the real eeriness comes from a very real source.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 14 August, 2020 09:06PM
GreenFedora Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "The Colour Out of Space," HPL
> "The Voice in the Night," William Hope Hodgson

Eerie these are, but I would also certainly say they involve "the fantastic".

In Hodgson's case, perhaps you were thinking of a different, posthumous, story, called "The Voice in the Dawn" or "The Call in the Dawn". That one was certainly eerie as well, but I can see someone more plausibly arguing that it contains no fantastic elements. I'm still not sure I'd agree, though. It does feature a weed island torn from Hodgson's version of the "Sargasso sea" which is a fantastic element in and of itself.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 15 August, 2020 03:09PM
Speaking of Hodgson, his short stories "Out Of The Storm" or "Through The Vortex Of A Cyclone" are definitely eerie without having any supernatural or fantastic elements about them.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 16 August, 2020 05:35PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Speaking of Hodgson, his short stories "Out Of The
> Storm" or "Through The Vortex Of A Cyclone" are
> definitely eerie without having any supernatural
> or fantastic elements about them.

Which also calls to mind Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom".

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: GreenFedora (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2020 12:53PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> GreenFedora Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > "The Colour Out of Space," HPL
> > "The Voice in the Night," William Hope Hodgson
>
> Eerie these are, but I would also certainly say
> they involve "the fantastic".
>
> In Hodgson's case, perhaps you were thinking of a
> different, posthumous, story, called "The Voice
> in the Dawn" or "The Call in the Dawn". That one
> was certainly eerie as well, but I can see someone
> more plausibly arguing that it contains no
> fantastic elements. I'm still not sure I'd agree,
> though. It does feature a weed island torn from
> Hodgson's version of the "Sargasso sea" which is a
> fantastic element in and of itself.

In that case, you will have to define "fantastic" for me. The HPL story involves an extraterrestrial substance (hardly "fantastic" but definitely sf). And I was not thinking of a different Hodgson story. "The Voice in the Night" is about two people subsumed by a fungus -- again, not "fantastic" in my estimation.

Frankly, all these terms and definitions are ultimately so subjective, I don't know why I even bother posting. It just isn't fun anymore...

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2020 01:31PM
I have no stories to contribute, but "fantastic" in this thread essentially means anything unreal, which would also include alien creatures, shrink rays, and fungi that can transform human beings. None of these things are real, or at least known to exist yet, and are currently just products of human imagination.

The entity from "Colour Out of Space" is described with scientific terms, but is itself quite an unlikely creature.

Edit: It's a bit easy to miss, but the thread title also excludes "sf."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 17 Aug 20 | 01:32PM by Hespire.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 17 August, 2020 01:51PM
GreenFedora Wrote:
> In that case, you will have to define "fantastic"
> for me.

Perhaps this question would be best addressed to the OP. This is his thread, after all. But I understand "fantastic fiction" (as distinct from "fantasy fiction") to be a catch-all term that covers both the "fantasy" genre and the "sci fi" genre.

> The HPL story involves an extraterrestrial
> substance (hardly "fantastic" but definitely sf).

I've never been a fan of that strain of thought that thinks supernatural elements cease to be supernatural merely because they come from outer space. And I would consider "The Colour Out of Space" a prime example of a supernatural story with only the thinnest veneer of being a sci-fi story. The only fictional or speculative science presented is so far beyond human comprehension that it might as well be magic.

But I thought that the OP neatly avoided that whole thorny issue by asking about "fantastic elements" rather than "supernatural elements". Again, I'm not sure if this was his intent, especially since he does reference the "supernatural" as well.

> And I was not thinking of a different Hodgson
> story. "The Voice in the Night" is about two
> people subsumed by a fungus -- again, not
> "fantastic" in my estimation.

Well, I'd certainly be surprised if it happened in my neighborhood. No remotely analogous fungal disease is known to exist in nature. But again, I don't know what the OP had in mind.

> Frankly, all these terms and definitions are
> ultimately so subjective, I don't know why I even
> bother posting.

Indeed. If the terms are purely subjective, how, then can we communicate? There's no point in even attempting a discussion if we don't at least strive for a common basis of understanding. But it could well be that I am the one who has understood the OP incorrectly.

> It just isn't fun anymore...

I'm sorry you feel that way. I was only trying to exchange ideas. And if the words used by you, me and the OP mean totally different things, then perhaps that is something that should be hashed out.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 17 Aug 20 | 02:23PM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 05:01PM
She Walks in Darkness (first published in 2013, but written back in the 1960s) by Evangeline Walton.
[www.goodreads.com]

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 August, 2020 09:22PM
Hi -- author of the original posting here. I wrote, "This thread is for the identification and discussion of stories that have a real quality of eeriness but do not involve the fantastic. I suppose there might be stories that could have a supernatural explanation, but this would not be the inevitable explanation. I would prefer to rule out stories that are plainly accounts of telepathy or precognition."

"The Colour Out of Space" and "The Voice in the Night" are (to my knowledge -- I've read all of Lovecraft but not all of Hodgson) the masterpieces of their authors working in the short story form. I have high regard for them and taught them repeatedly in my university career. They show how the genre of fantasy can do things that can only be done through fantasy and that are manifestly worth doing. Accordingly, they justify that genre.

But they certainly involve the fantastic. The reader knows that they deal with the unreal. No one actually thinks that the world we live in contains bizarre transcosmic substances that consume the vitality of earth creatures, or fungi that subsume the flesh and bones of humans. effecting a ghastly metamorphosis such as Hodgson suggests.

Thus they don't fit this thread.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20 Aug 20 | 09:23PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 03:25PM
An observation about the notion of "thread focus".

In general I am in favor of sticking closely to a stated topic in a single thread--and especially so if the discussion represents itself as a more formal and systematic exploration--but such are the dynamics of this group that any attempt to steer discussions back to the stated topic is more likely to be the kiss of death for the thread. And I believe that this is because this forum is a de facto *informal* social exchange. A lot like an exclusive 19th C British gentlemen's club, with cigars, port, reminiscences, dry humor, and a lot of "HARRUMPH!"-ing, etc.

What happens is that when asked to clone an emergent topic off to a new thread, it effectively discourages any further new and interesting explorations that may have organically arisen from the discussion as it developed. This may be because the ownership of the new thread is ambiguous and essentially it drops thru the cracks. This is usually caused by the inconvenience of starting a new thread, and taking the time to explain the context of how the new topic emerged. As silly as it sounds, this is often enough to discourage the creation of the cloned thread, and at the same time killing any further off-topic explorations on the original thread.

So I guess I'm proposing that we consider whether allowing that an organic divergence from the stated topic of a thread is proper for the evolved nature of this forum, which I take to be informal, conversational, and to a lesser degree collegial.

Me, I could go either way on this, but I would note that traffic here at ED is pretty sparse and a part of why this is, is a reluctance to diverge from a topic or to make the effort to clone a new thread.

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: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 03:42PM
As one who stopped using most forms of social media primarily because people are more obsessed with rules (and rule-breaking) than they are with lasting conversations, I see where Sawfish is coming from and agree with him wholeheartedly. Once or twice I've suggested making separate topics to counteract any digressions of my own, but given the state of this place, it doesn't mean much if you begin a thread about CAS and Theosophy but end up discussing cats and Lovecraft (I'm sure a bridge could be made between the two subjects, using the Egyptian cat goddesses).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 21 Aug 20 | 03:44PM by Hespire.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 06:36PM
Sawfish Wrote:
> Me, I could go either way on this, but I would
> note that traffic here at ED is pretty sparse and
> a part of why this is, is a reluctance to diverge
> from a topic or to make the effort to clone a new
> thread.

But ... no-one was trying to forbid divergence from the original topic. We were simply trying to understand one another.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2020 06:59PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> > Me, I could go either way on this, but I would
> > note that traffic here at ED is pretty sparse
> and
> > a part of why this is, is a reluctance to
> diverge
> > from a topic or to make the effort to clone a
> new
> > thread.
>
> But ... no-one was trying to forbid divergence
> from the original topic. We were simply trying to
> understand one another.

Certainly, and that's just fine, but I've run up against the issue I raised, I took the trouble to clone, and felt that it was more trouble than it would have otherwise been to simply evolve the thread under the same topic heading.

I did it once or twice, then abandoned the practice. I have also refrained to a fair degree from diverging from a given topic because I'd read enough reminders either to stay on topic, or to clone, that I felt that others believed it to be important. That's why I raised the issue: to see how others feel.

Ultimately, it results in less contribution to this forum and I wondered if others had noticed how this might work against an expansion of exchanges.

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: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 06:07AM
What about 'The Monkey's Paw'? Sure, everybody knows the basic plot, but there's a general assumption it's a ghost story, even though nothing ghostly or supernatural actually happens. Some stories are very slippery in this respect. You'd really need to know what the author's intentions were - ie, did Jacobs set out to write a ghost story or is 'The Monkey's Paw'a study in psychology? By the same token, there are other stories (e.g. Dahl's The Landlady) in which nothing untoward happens but you have a clear idea that something bad is going to happen and that the author wants you to deduce as much.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 07:08AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> An observation about the notion of "thread
> focus".

Most other forums have sections for off topic general discussions. But not this one. Here we call on everyone's attention, even those who are not interested. I think it is a good thing to stick to topic, with small divergences allowed if they can help clarify round about.

I suggest starting a separate thread for general wide discussions about literature, art, and life, in which you can bring anything up.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 11:01AM
I agree with Knygatin.

I joined the ED forum fairly recently. When I look over titles of our discussions over the years, I go by the titles. If I see a thread title like "William Sloane" -- started four years ago by Minicthulhu -- I figure that could be interesting, since I enjoyed To Walk the Night and The Edge of Running Water. If a good discussion of these novels got going as a tangent under a thread on, I dunno, Stephen King (since I think King liked Sloane's novels), I'm going to miss that discussion, because a thread on King is not something I would be likely to look into. I'm sure ED folk who are active right now would like to see more people get involved (in good ways), so a case can be made on their behalf. Conversely, if an interesting tangent gets going on one thread, it really shouldn't be too hard for the participants to take it to a new thread -- or so I would have thought.

There you have my 2c worth.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 03:03PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What about 'The Monkey's Paw'? Sure, everybody
> knows the basic plot, but there's a general
> assumption it's a ghost story, even though nothing
> ghostly or supernatural actually happens. Some
> stories are very slippery in this respect. You'd
> really need to know what the author's intentions
> were - ie, did Jacobs set out to write a ghost
> story or is 'The Monkey's Paw'a study in
> psychology? By the same token, there are other
> stories (e.g. Dahl's The Landlady) in which
> nothing untoward happens but you have a clear idea
> that something bad is going to happen and that the
> author wants you to deduce as much.

Personally, I would not hesitate to classify "The Monkey's Paw" as a tale of the supernatural. But I understand what you are saying. Certainly, Jacobs has given the supernatural elements of the tale "plausible deniability". Perhaps you could say the same about his second most famous ghost story, "The Toll House", but I'd have to reread it to be sure.

Which leads to another question: If we include stories that merely "suggest" the supernatural, at what point do "eerie" stories become "tales of the supernatural" almost by definition? Surely "eerie" and "spooky" are rather synonymous to some extent? No? Even spooky stories with "Scooby Doo endings", such as "The Hound of the Baskervilles", are in some sense tales of the supernatural, in terms of their appeal.

But I can probably think of a few other "ghost stories" where the ghost has quite a bit of plausible deniability. One example I that comes to mind at the moment is Sheridan Le Fanu's "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" (1853). I'd say that that has rather more "plausible deniability" than "The Monkey's Paw". It might possibly be an example of what the OP is looking for.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 22 Aug 20 | 03:05PM by Platypus.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 22 August, 2020 03:17PM
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.

This is a pretty specific category of stories we're talking about, then, but that's just it. Here we have assembled readers who may have a lot of experience of the literature of the strange and who find that they can indeed identify some stories as belonging to this type of group. It must be something that only a few authors have done and done well.*

I would encourage the curious to read "The Hour After Westerly" and The Ice Palace, which I mentioned as examples of what I have in mind in the original posting. The latter (a short novel) is something I might want to reread yet this year. If I do, perhaps I'll set up a thread on it for anyone interested.

*Possibly it dates back to Wordsworth. He and Coleridge agreed, as young men, that STC would write poems of the supernatural, and he did -- "Christabel," the "Rime," "Kubla Khan." They agreed that WW would write poems (and I forget precisely how STC put it) that have the effect of the supernatural or the preternatural without clearly departing from the natural, and so we get poems like the one about the rural wanderer who heard the girl singing in a tongue he couldn't understand, something, he was sure, coming out of long cultural memory and so on -- was that "The Solitary Reaper"?

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.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 06:56PM
F. Ossendowski's account of the Black Monk of Sakhalin, in Man and Mystery in Asia, qualifies.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 30 August, 2020 10:56PM
The Barrow Troll by David Drake.

[thesilverkey.blogspot.com]

This is really a pretty good story.

Has anyone else read it?

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: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 05:44PM
H. H. Ewers' The Sorcerer's Apprentice qualifies.

Re: Eerie, for sure, but not sf or supernatural horror
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 1 November, 2020 02:02AM
The unavoidable fate in Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species has been described as nightmarish. It is in my to-be-read pile. I have read Darwin's very interesting The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 1 Nov 20 | 02:04AM by Knygatin.



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