Irish Ghost Stories
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two, March 12 to March 22. All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or an email and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge.
In 1871 The Church of Ireland was disestablished. The Westmeath act is passed allowing arrest and detention without trial. The King of Prussia is declared Emperor of Germany. It is a good year for the novel with Through the Looking Glass, Middlemarch, and Little Men.
No need to worry that Irish Short Story week will be dull. Not with writers like Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (he is descended from Huguenots driven from France to Ireland in the 16th century) bringing his Carmilla, the lesbian vampire (and a co-host for Irish Short Story Week), ghosts, and demon lovers.
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 to 1873-Dublin) is considered a leading writer of 19th century Ghost
|"Joseph, thanks for creating me and|
welcome to Irish Short Story Week"
Stories and supernatural tales. In his most famous work, his novella Carmilla, (1872) a lesbian vampire is the central character. He seems to be the first author who made use of lesbian vampires in his stories. He had an interesting life that you can read more about here. I was also very happy to see that almost all of his novels and a lot of his short stories can be read online on the web page of the library of the University of Adelaide. His work is considered to have strongly influenced the work of Bram Stoker, also from Ireland, the author of Dracula.
A a deep seated belief in the supernatural seems to be an element in the Irish Short Story. Alongside the beliefs sanctioned by The Church is vast structure of beliefs in fairies, witches, evil omens, leprechauns and much more. This supernatural world is imposed on the mundane one we appear to live in. Historians might tell us that such belief structures are often found among the powerless peoples in colonized countries as a form of coping with their frustration with their situation.
Both of the stories I will post on here are of the haunted castle variety. The prose style has a very modern feel to it with nothing at all arcane in the style. Both stories are interconnected.
"Voices" opens on the changing condition of Una, the oldest of two sisters. Una was once a happy carefree person but now "her fun and frolic were quite gone". Her and her sister Alice were very close and had always slept in the same room. One day Una tells her that unless she stops sleeping in the same room with her then Una will die. She offers no explanation for this. Una moves into the room next door. Alice begins to hear strange noises at night of the deep voice of a man in the room next door. Of course it is a ghost as we learn in "Una's Lover", the follow up story.
Just as there is in Le Fanu's classic vampire lesbian novela, Carmilla, there are strong sexual undertones to this story. In this case it seems to be the frustrated and not fully understood sexual longings or awaking of Una.
These stories as well as lots of other works by Le Fanu can be downloaded in many formats .HERE.