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Download In A Glass Darkly (Oxford World's Classics) epub

by Robert Tracy,Sheridan Le Fanu

This remarkable collection of stories, first published in 1872, includes Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr. Justice Harbottle, The Room in the Dragon Volant, and Carmilla. The five stories are purported to be cases by Dr. Hesselius, a 'metaphysical' doctor, who is willing to consider the ghosts both as real and as hallucinatory obsessions. The reader's doubtful anxiety mimics that of the protagonist, and each story thus creates that atmosphere of mystery which is the supernatural experience. This new annotated edition includes an introduction, notes on the text, and explanatory notes.About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Download In A Glass Darkly (Oxford World's Classics) epub
ISBN: 0199537984
ISBN13: 978-0199537983
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Robert Tracy,Sheridan Le Fanu
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 15, 2008)
Pages: 384 pages
ePUB size: 1599 kb
FB2 size: 1976 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 816
Other Formats: lit mobi doc lrf

This is a classic work of Gothic horror fiction. Introduced as being a transcription of selected notes of a physician Dr. Martin Hesselius, I thought this was going to be a "paranormal investigator's casebook" type of short stories serial, and instead it was more in the nature of a collection of general short horror stories, only the first two of which involved the named physician. Written in the nineteenth and set in the eighteenth century, these stories retain their entertainment value due the timelessness of the subject areas, including ghosts, spectral imps, and vampires. On the other hand, some of the European and period specific elements are also charming: sabre carrying German officers, horses and carriages, masked balls, and crumbling ruined castles. The final story in the collection is the often anthologized "Carmilla," which is a vampire story published in 21 years before Dracula, and hence not influenced by that later work.

I purchased the Kindle edition by Waxkeep Publishing, and found the text conversion to be perfect with no obvious defects and well type set. It was easy to read on my original Kindle Fire.
I read Uncle Silas years ago, and absolutely loved it. Not sure why it took me so long to get back to reading Le Fanu. If you are into reading stories with a definite Gothic vibe, eerie and creepy, and have elements of the weird, odd or supernatural, then Le Fanu is your author, and In a Glass Darkly is your book. The collection is comprised of five of Le Fanu’s finest works, the first three more of the short story variety, the final two a bit longer novellas.

The five tales are cases taken from a certain Dr. Hessilius, a physician who studies cases have some basis in metaphysical or supernatural type occurrences.

The three shorter works all have a familiar set up in that each involves someone beings followed or stalked by something unearthly: “Green Tea”, the first in the collection, involves a clergyman who is followed by a “demonic” monkey that seems to know his every move and every thought. “The Familiar” deals with an individual being stalked by an evil dwarf. The third in the volume, “Dr. Justice Harbottle”, is about a cruel judge who begins to see visions in the form of spirits and an evil doppelganger. Perhaps these visions are the basis for revenge? Fascinating about all these stories is that the victims who are being hounded by something sinister all have some “inner” demons to work out as well.

The two longer works that finish the collection, “The Room in the Dragon Valant” and the more popular “Carmilla”, are superb examples of storytelling.

“The Room in the Dragon Valant” was my favorite. It involves a naïve young man stumbling upon a beautiful Countess and becoming instantly and foolishly enamored with her. As the young man is fascinated by this young beauty, he fails to see some pitfalls coming his way. This story is so multi-layered; there are so many subtle little hints that foreshadow events to follow. There are elements of the bizarre, rumors of a haunted room at an inn (which, of course, our main protagonist is rooming), and a bit of a Gothic feel (there is even a masquerade that adds to the atmosphere). The story has elements of romance, dark imagery, some twists, and great denouement. While the least “supernatural” of the works, I thought it was superb.

“Carmilla”, Le Fanu’s classic vampire tale, was also a brilliant example of creating a sense of tension of foreboding. The narrator, Laura, relates an extraordinary tale. She becomes friends with a girl named Carmilla, a young lady who stays when Laura’s father agrees to look after Carmilla for three months. During Carmella’s stay, Laura begins to have frightful events happen to her in the form of being visited by unearthly beings during the night. Meanwhile, there are several cases of young ladies becoming deathly “ill” in the village, under odd conditions. It is clear to see how “Carmilla” has had influence on so many modern filmmakers and writers who have redone the vampire story.

What Le Fanu manages to do in this collection, perhaps a lost art form, is give an opening of ambiguity to aspects of events, conversations, details, etc. This gives an added layer of dimension to the reads, builds the mounting tensions, and makes the reader active in following the rather bizarre cases and findings. Rather than tell, Le Fanu shows; and he does this quite effectively. The stories all have a build that rises and rises with subtle revelations that shock and awe the reader. Clearly, Le Fanu was a master at this craft of creating an ominous, uncomfortable, atmospheric, and unnatural feeling in his tales, and In a Glass Darkly is a brilliant illustration of such.

These five works are all excellent, in my humble opinion, but I definitely thought the longer works, the final two in the collection, to be far superior to the three short stories that open because we can see this work unfold in a slow crawl that build and builds.
This a great collection of macabre stories by one of the meta-pioneers of the Gothic genre. The creepy, standalone stories are gathered under the literary umbrella of the collected letters of Dr. Hesselius, a ‘metaphysical’ doctor who was drawn to the borderline between ghosts and madness, between the biological and the ethereal, between hallucinations and manifestations of the spirit realm.

The literary device of an ‘editor’ who collected and annotated the notes, along with the ostensibly first person accounts of the various afflicted souls, makes for an appropriately murky, reality-skewering Gothic nightmare of dread.

My favorite, not surprisingly, was ‘Carmilla,’ about a languid, gorgeous vampire who insinuates herself into the families of wealthy, secluded country nobility to disastrous ends. But ‘The Familiar,’ in which an apelike demon stalks an unfortunate sea captain — revealed at first only by echoing footsteps — taps into a long-held fear of being stalked by unseen enemies.

I’m a big fan of the writing style of this era, so found myself reveling in overblown sentences such as ‘Pen, ink and paper are cold vehicles for the marvelous…’ and ‘The moral effect of a really good dinner is immense..’ and ‘Love, if not a religion, as the oracle had just pronounced it, is, at least, a superstition. How it exalts the imagination! How it enervates the reason! How credulous it makes us!’

A Gothic classic, and for good reason.
What if you were followed home one night by a demonic monkey? What if it would appear in your life at will so that you nevermore knew a moment's peace? What if in your desperation you should wish to pray, but the monkey, knowing this, fixed you with its red eyes gleaming in the shadowy dusk and began to sway it's body to-and-fro so that the very rhythm of it's macabre movements sucked the prayers from your mind in a kind of infernal hypnotism?

What if you were a bad judge - a very, *very* bad judge - and found yourself being abducted, taken to a netherworld and tried by a collection of souls whom *you* had condemned to death? What if you found yourself in such a place, hemmed in on all sides, facing all your dirty deeds which were now being cast back upon *you*? What if it weren't a dream?

Read this book and find out!

Others have already outlined this book's stories in detail so I will only add:
beautiful writing, frightening imagery, intriguing stories full of what-will-happen-next?-ness. I don't see how you would be sorry. It put a quiver in my whiskers.