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Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Tantalus (IP Logged)
Date: 18 December, 2011 05:24AM
Are there any stories you read at Christmas time? CAS doesn't really have any stories even remotely connected to Christmas. But every year I try to read The Festival by Lovecraft. And this for two reasons. One, it's the only Christmas related story I know of from this circle of authors. And two, during the 1970's, while on Christmas break from college, a neighbor gave me that 1970's set of Lovecraft's works. One of the first stories I read was The Festival. It was a very memorable time. And it started my interest in HPL, and eventually CAS and others.


This has been discussed before in this very old thread. But it wanders off topic very quickly. The original poster, Ludde, is also a The Festival Christmas devotee.

[www.eldritchdark.com]

The post by calonlan on December 30, 2004 is particularly interesting as to Clark's Christmas "observances".


And it may be cliche but I also read A Christmas Carol by Dickens. If you have only watched the adapted movies, and have never read it, you're in for a treat. There is no comparison. Although I think that Alastair Sim in the 1951 Scrooge does a fantastic job. Especially with his Christmas morning exhilaration.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 18 December, 2011 06:06AM
I don't have a set reading list over the Christmas period, but something ghostly always seems appropriate. This year I'm making my way through the new Oxford Uni Press edition of the collected and annotated works of M.R. James, as I very much love to old BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas that they used to show.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 18 December, 2011 07:41AM
I just read Lovecraft's poem "old Christmas" -- I'm proofing The Ancient Track for its new edition. Technically competent, nice sentiment, but not one of HPL's best poems. And it is more than 320 lines long.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 18 December, 2011 06:10PM
Ah, The Festival--one of my favorites! One of the first by HPL I ever read, and it's definitely stuck with me.

M. R. James--wonderful. For those of you unfamiliar, E. F. Benson is a damn fine writer of ghost stories in a somewhat similar vein. I need a better ed. of James--mine's a yellowed old thing--but it is kind of cool to read ghost stories on yellowed, musty pages...wonderful atmosphere....

Old Christmas--a bit tiresome.... But yes, technically competent.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Gill Avila (IP Logged)
Date: 18 December, 2011 07:24PM
I read "Roads" by Seabury Quinn. I choked up when I read it when I was 14--I'm almost 63 and I still do. I've given away three copies to friends and relatives.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2011 05:11AM
I'm glad to hear that someone else appreciates Seabury Quinn's "Roads". Another good Yuletide story is Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle".

For some reason I usually find myself reading "The Fellowship of The Ring" towards the end of the year. I'm not sure why, there isn't any overt Christmas theme to the book (although it does contain gift-giving and a rather unseemly amount of feasting...and, of course, scary bits right out of M. R. James).

The one children's book I always read at Christmas is "Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree" by Robert Barry.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2011 05:47AM
K_A_Opperman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> M. R. James--wonderful. For those of you
> unfamiliar, E. F. Benson is a damn fine writer of
> ghost stories in a somewhat similar vein. I need a
> better ed. of James--mine's a yellowed old
> thing--but it is kind of cool to read ghost
> stories on yellowed, musty pages...wonderful
> atmosphere....

You can't beat a dusty old tome, but if you fancy a nice shiny new edition then I recommend the one I'm reading. As my Latin and knowledge of biblical scholarship is a little rusty these days, I find its annotations vital and really add to my appreciation of James. Previously I found his occasional flippant of tone a little grating, but this time everything is fitting into place.... wonderful and genuinely unnerving!

Here's a link to it, with free international delivery (I believe): [www.bookdepository.co.uk]

Apparently it's about the best single volume annotated collection readily available, unless Ash-Tree Press re-publish there old one. I'm not sure how it stacks up against Joshi's Penguin twin editions tho... but I really wanted a hard cover, so I didn't check these out.

I think I shall also be reading Moby Dick sometime over the Christmas period... it's loooong over due!

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 19 December, 2011 04:17PM
I will certainly look into that tome. M. R. James has the rare ability to actually frighten me.... I don't always love his prose style--but the tales themselves, taken as a whole, rarely disappoint! I only wish he'd written more.... Oh well--as an aspiring horror writer who favors the old stuff over the new, I suppose that's where I come in....

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 December, 2011 08:43AM
The only disappointing part of the OUP edition is the Forward that spends far too much time discussing MRJ's sexuality... *yawn!* I'd have preferred a greater emphasis on the tales themselves and the writing of them. I'm kind of tempted by this: [www.hippocampuspress.com]
has anyone here read it/have any opinions about it?

Also, there is a fairly enjoyable documentary on MRJ to be found on the extras of this: [www.amazon.co.uk]

The telly-play itself is only partly successful(I prefer Night of the Demaon), although worth watching for the lovely Jan Francis ;), and while the documentary suffers from a slightly silly approach which might annoy the purist, I found it quite enjoyable, informative and pleasantly enthusiastic about James' tale.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2011 04:17AM
I thought that the introduction to the new Oxford edition also concentrated a bit too much on the issue of James' attitudes toward class. However, let's face it: a lot of what passes for "literary criticism" nowadays, at least in academic settings, is centered around attitudes on class, gender, and race. Don't get me wrong, these are all legitimate arenas for discussion (in fact I expect to discuss CAS' attitudes toward race at some point), but to the almost total exclusion of anything else?!?!?! (Okay, that's a little bit hyperbolic, but not all that hyperbolic, sad to say.)

I've long considered the most interesting thing about James' fiction to be the tension between the traditional, comforting view of the world that James the Don wanted to embrace, and the somewhat different worldview that suggested that the universe was a much colder and more hostile place than a respectable gentleman should.

If anyone has access to a DVD player that can convert PAL, I recommend highly the performances of Robert Lloyd Parry: [www.nunkie.co.uk]. I have both of these, and have also been fortunate enough to see Robert perform his one man show twice.

Scott

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2011 05:49AM
Scott Connors Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I thought that the introduction to the new Oxford
> edition also concentrated a bit too much on the
> issue of James' attitudes toward class. However,
> let's face it: a lot of what passes for "literary
> criticism" nowadays, at least in academic
> settings, is centered around attitudes on class,
> gender, and race. Don't get me wrong, these are
> all legitimate arenas for discussion (in fact I
> expect to discuss CAS' attitudes toward race at
> some point), but to the almost total exclusion of
> anything else?!?!?! (Okay, that's a little bit
> hyperbolic, but not all that hyperbolic, sad to
> say.)

I couldn't agree more. There are all, of course legitimate areas, but surely the texts themselves should come first.

> I've long considered the most interesting thing
> about James' fiction to be the tension between the
> traditional, comforting view of the world that
> James the Don wanted to embrace, and the somewhat
> different worldview that suggested that the
> universe was a much colder and more hostile place
> than a respectable gentleman should.

Indeed, I think it is this conflict or paradox that fuels much of the best of supernatural fiction. It is this tension between the mundane world, be it secular or benignly spiritual, and what lies beyond the veil of reality, be it a greater-uncomprehending reality that reduces all to meaninglessness or a spiritual evil, that lies at the heart of the paradox. I'd argue that they are just a modern and traditional perspective of the same thing. I think Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the human Race raises some interesting thoughts on this paradox found in horror fiction, although I'm not sure how the rest of his polemic will play with some of the fine scholars found on this forum. Still, its an interesting polemic and a superb piece of horror writing in itself, I'd argue.

> If anyone has access to a DVD player that can
> convert PAL, I recommend highly the performances
> of Robert Lloyd Parry:
> [www.nunkie.co.uk]. I have both of
> these, and have also been fortunate enough to see
> Robert perform his one man show twice.

Those look very interesting, I shall have to check them out. Interestingly, a few months back, I saw a one-man stage adaptation of 'Call of Cthulhu,' which was brilliant. I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to someone fucking around with Lovecraft's work (see my scepticism about del Toro for proof) and I went with much trepidation, yet I left believing that there was no other way to adapt Lovecraft's work away from the page. I spoke to him briefly after the show and he was shaking from the performance and it was obvious that he had great love for Lovecraft's work... I'll provide a link to his site, although it's long since passed and was only a UK mini-tour, I noticed on his facebook page that he has just finished recording an audio version, which might capture some of the magic he conjured on the stage. I'm sure I'd be buying a copy. Also he has several other Lovecraft shaped irons in the fire that might be of interest to UK based CASophiles in the future. I'm not sure the chances of a USA tour are very high, but you never know...

[www.michaelsabbaton.com]

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: OConnor,CD (IP Logged)
Date: 21 December, 2011 06:13PM
I wish all of us could go back to the times of gathering around the hearth as a family and reading ghost stories (Christmas Carol). However, those days are long gone.

Despite that brief thought, I'd like to say that I never have an actual list. Right now I'm just completing Ambrose Bierce's entire corpus of horror stories. After this I will read the entire Charles Dickens lot of Christmas oriented stories just for capture the spirit of this season. Then it is back to Ambrose Bierce's war (ghost) stories. I have so much I want to read now that I've finished reading everything Lovecraft and Barlow have ever written.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: treycelement (IP Logged)
Date: 23 December, 2011 05:25AM
Tantalus wrote:

> Are there any stories you read at Christmas time?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is good.

> CAS doesn't really have any stories even remotely
> connected to Christmas.

But CSL gets CASean in the descriptions of the dead city of Charn in The Magician's Nephew. The witch Jadis might have made a good spouse for Malygris, and, with Malygris, Namirrha, Sauron, et al, would be a good subject for a look at Nietzschean figures in fantasy.....

23 = 12 + '11.



“The true independent is he who dwells detached and remote from the little herds as well as from the big herd. Affiliating with no group or cabal of mice or monkeys, he is of course universally suspect.” — The Black Book of Gore Vidal.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 23 December, 2011 11:00AM
Interesting thread - I rarely read anything specifically about the season, I am much too involved in celebrating a very traditional Old English Christmas - ie - we celebrate the "12 days" fully - exchanging a gift daily, and remembering the lesson secretly conveyed from the Catechism by each of the verses in the carol - then on Jan. 6, the actual 12th day when the Kings arrive, my wife will have made the King's Bread (usually use the Greek recipe) hiding 3 coins within - we throw a big Party with lots of comestibles, read Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", have a bonfire of all the trees brought from guest's homes, assign each finder of a coin in the bread one of the King's verses from "We three kings", and Hot drink in hand sing the old song around the bonfire - - drinks include Irish Coffee made with "Irish Mist" mead, Mulled cider, spiced cider etc - during the season we make a point of watching the old B and W version of Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" (the guy who sings Balthazar sang the part of the Pharaoh in Aida when I performed it in 1986) - and, of course, we sing a final round of the great Carols, ending with "O Holy Night" with those of us who are brave enough daring the high Bflat -(may have to drop it a couple of keys this year) - For those who like something a little eerie, I recommend Menotti's little Opera, "The Medium" - musically spooky - marvelous music - especially the "Black Swan" duet -- "The sun is dying and it lies in blood - The moon is weaving bandages of gold - O Black Swan, O Black Swan, where, or where has my lover gone - Torn and tattered is my bridal gown - and my lamp is lost - and my lamp is lost - etc -- wonderful piece with sudden, unexpected interruption by a spectral voice - several versions available on video -

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 24 December, 2011 08:53PM
Damn, I'm going over to Dr. Farmer's for Christmas next year! ;) There is very little to mark the holiday at my house--both because we ain't gots no money, and because we are not overly celebratory folk. I'm all for orgiastic reverly (not necessarily saying Farmer is ;) ), ancient bread, hidden coins, etc.--but I could never organize it myself, and I don't know anyone else who would 'get into' it :(

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: cathexis (IP Logged)
Date: 25 December, 2011 02:40PM
I read little around Christmas time.
Both my wife and I work 12 hours shifts; She works Nites, I work Days.
This year for the first time we are Empty Nesters as all kids are away
in college. Therefore, Christmas is a time for work, family homecoming,
and general hecticness.

However, no Fall can go by without Tolkien calling; especially, "Fellowship."
I've read it 3 or 4 times so nowadays I skip some stuff (Bombadil- can't stand him)
and skip straight to the best passages and all the poetry.

Come february, I am recovered from the Holidays and broke(again). In the D.C.
area February winters are weeks of frozen slush and mud and dreary skies that
are punctuated by the occasional Snowpocalpyse. My response is I always take a
week of annual leave and it is then CAS,HPL, and M.R. James and the rest exert
their irresistable lure upon me most strongly.

Merry Christmas to All,
Cathexis

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 January, 2012 07:03AM
Tantalus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This has been discussed before in this very old
> thread. But it wanders off topic very quickly. The
> original poster, Ludde, is also a The Festival
> Christmas devotee.

I am the "reincarnated" Ludde. Although I love this tale, especially the narrator's beginning approach to the town, and the settings, I have read it so many times that I just can't read it anymore. I know it inside out. And have also begun noticing its flaws, which distracts from the reading-experience; the symbolism to Death is a little too over-obvious, with the "walking worms". I have grown more discriminating of artistic refinement, to be convinced into an illusion.

Like Martinus I also enjoy reading "Old Christmas". Lovecraft has the spirit, and is really under-appreciated as a poet. What he may lack in rythm, music, and style, he compensates in content. No other poet understands the nurturing and symbolic implications in Nature as well as Lovecraft.

I also enjoy looking at Richard Corben's illustrated Christmas stories for the old Warren comics. Corben "depicts the underbelly of the America of Norman Rockwell" *. The stories themselves may be crude, but the artwork is great (if one accepts the humorous comic book perspective);

"Anti-Cristmas" tells of the fanatical Bible Belt in the Midwest around Christmas. Here are a few pages;
(If you want to view them, you must copy the addresses and paste them into your address-field. The source does not allow them to be linked. Add http:// first.)
Page 1: www.raggedclaws.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/boudreau-and-corben_anti-christmas_creepy-n68_jan1975_p35.jpg
Page 2: www.raggedclaws.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/boudreau-and-corben_anti-christmas_creepy-n68_jan1975_p36.jpg
Page 3: www.raggedclaws.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/boudreau-and-corben_anti-christmas_creepy-n68_jan1975_p37.jpg

"The Believer" is much like Disney's "The Night Before Christmas", but grown up and cruel.
Page 1: www.raggedclaws.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/richard-corben_the-believer-01.jpg
Page 2: www.raggedclaws.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/richard-corben_the-believer-02.jpg
Page 5: www.raggedclaws.com/home/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/richard-corben_the-believer-05.jpg

* Brad Balfour's words.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12 Jan 12 | 07:17AM by Knygatin.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: K_A_Opperman (IP Logged)
Date: 12 January, 2012 03:34PM
Quote:
Knygatin
Like Martinus I also enjoy reading "Old Christmas". Lovecraft has the spirit, and is really under-appreciated as a poet. What he may lack in rythm, music, and style, he compensates in content. No other poet understands the nurturing and symbolic implications in Nature as well as Lovecraft.

I don't care for Old Christmas--but I definitely agree that Lovecraft is underappreciated as a poet. In the field of wierd poetry--he's one of the best. He might not be as technically accomplished as CAS (who is?), but he offers an entirely different experience, which one really can't get elsewhere. Yuggoth is a remarkable work--nobody but HPL could have pulled that off. There is also a good variety of form and meter in his work which deserves recognition. And who, other than CAS, so unmistakably stamps their 'personality' into their poetry? I suppose REH does pretty good on that front, too.... I only wish Lovecraft had written more weird poetry--but then there'd be the problem of him having less time to write fiction.... I'm thankful for what we have :)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Jan 12 | 03:36PM by K_A_Opperman.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 24 December, 2015 05:22AM
I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (the true, astronimical New Year was actually 2 days ago, at Winter Solstice, when Sun's light returns. Not the arbitrary, politically conceived "new year", which is a lie and an illusion.) to All appreciators of the fantastic, weird, and the ghostly!

I am reading "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Enjoying it very much, ... have not read it before. Lots of Christmas holiday atmosphere, and colorful descriptive details pertaining to the season. My cooking will be all the better for it today!

For those of you who have only seen cute TV-adaptions, "A Christmas Carol" may come as a surprize. Charles Dickens is actually a giant literary genius in the conception of ghostly atmosphere. His apparitions remind me of those of J. S. Le Fanu, and hold the same high level of imaginary quality. Dickens may have a wider general appeal, since he uses his ghosts as instruments, for moral lessons, in his profound and sympathetic understanding of human nature. While Le Fanu may have a more delicious aesthetic appeal to an imaginarily sensitive audience, in the way he lingers over the morbid and hideous attributes of his ghosts.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24 Dec 15 | 05:29AM by Knygatin.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 25 December, 2015 02:35PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Charles Dickens is actually a giant
> literary genius

I like the "actually."

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 December, 2015 05:31PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Charles Dickens is actually a giant
> > literary genius
>
> I like the "actually."


He he he! Yes, it sounds inanely presumptuous, doesn't it?! Sorry about that slip! But, shamefully, I think this is just my first go at Dickens, can't remember having read him even in childhood.

However, don't miss the the following words, " ... in the conception of ghostly atmosphere." And having read further into the story now, I am no longer sure if I stand by that part. I think Dickens here uses ghosts as practical symbols and allegory. But as for genuine supernatural, spooky atmosphere, ... I don't know. I don't feel it so much, my spine is not tingling. I will have to read "The Signalman", and see.

Re: Stories you read at Christmas?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 December, 2015 05:51PM
Nevertheless, I enjoy the story immensely. Dickens is so very generous in his observations.



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