Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu-" Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter"-

" Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter"- by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (12 pages, 1838)

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 17th century) bringing his lesbian vampires and demon lovers to the party.

"Please Join me for Irish Short Week-I
promise it will not be dull"-Carmilla

"Hi-party at Bowen's Court March 17?"
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 to 1873-Dublin) is considered a leading writer of 19th century Ghost 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.

There are lots of good possibilities here for Irish Short Stories week, including his most famous story "The Ghost and the Bone Setter" (1838) which would make a very good pick for the week, I think.   I think I will post on at least one or two more of his works during Irish Short Stories Week

I decided to read now " Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter" because it was said to be about the tradition of the Demonic Lover so I thought it might help me understand Elizabeth Bowen's most famous story, "The Demonic Lover" a bit better.     This story is very well done and beautifully written.   In no way does the prose style seem antiquated or stale.   In fact it is anything but that.   I do not want to tell much of the plot as it is very suspenseful and the atmosphere is pure Gothic.     Here is a good representative sample of his prose:

 " flesh of the face was coloured with the bluish leaden hue which is sometimes pro- duced by the operation of metallic medicines administered in excessive quantities; the eyes were enormous, and the white appeared both above and below the iris, which gave to them an expression of insanity, which was heightened by their glassy fixedness; the nose was well enough, but the mouth was writhed considerably to one side, where it opened in order to give egress to two long, discoloured fangs, which projected from the upper jaw, far below the lower lip; the hue of the lips themselves bore the usual relation to that of the face, and was consequently nearly black."

 It took a little while for the excitement in the story to build up but once it did I was very taken into the world of this story.   I can see why Le Fanu is said to best Victorian Ghost story writer.

One of the reasons I wanted to post on this was just to let interested people see there was a huge treasure of reading material online.    On just this one author you can read over 50 ghost and supernatural stories online..

I am looking for stories by female authors from Ireland, especially stories that can be read online.   If you have any suggestions please leave a comment-if you think you might want to participate-all you are asked to do is post on one Irish Short Story that week and leave me a comment with a link so I can create a master post,  please leave a comment.   It can include immigrants like the great Australian short story writer Barbara Baynton whose parents were both Irish.  

Mel u


Lindsay Cummings author said...

new follower of your blog! love the theme =]

check out mine!!

Mel u said...

thanks for the follow-I am now following you also-love your collage

Kelly said...

This looks great! I really wish I was able to participate in Irish Short Story week!! I'm really into the whole "Irish roots" thing and do a huge St. Pat's Day dinner for my family every year. Absolutely no time to fit this extra reading into my schedule though :(

I really hope you make this an annual thing! I will for sure be able to participate next year because I'll be done with college and taking a break before grad school :)

Mel u said...

Kelly-your dinner sounds great-as to reading time-you can join in just by reading a 3 page short story and posting a few lines on it-I hope it will be an annual event (also of course I hope it means my blog and I continue on!)

Hannah said...

I asked my husband if he could think of another female Irish short story writer--and he said weakly, "Flannery O'Connor?" She does have the right name for it, doesn't she?

Deborah Lawrenson said...

Another lovely, thought-provoking, wonderfully illustrated post - you are rapidly becoming one of my must-reads!

Mel u said...

Lifetime Reader-I have found two female Irish writers I plan to include-most of the Irish women writers are researched wrote short stories, plays or religious texts.

Deborah Lawrenson-thank you very much

Anonymous said...

How could I possibly not pass up an author who uses lesbian vampires and demon lovers. I am definitely ear marking Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu for Irish Short Story Week, which I am definitely planning on participating in. I have Irish roots so this is a good way of exploring them in literary form.

Anonymous said...

I'm a HUGE Irish fan (everything from music to history) and I've just discovered your blog. I think I'll try to read a post each day to be upadted and take some serious notes on what I read.

By the way, I have bought: In a Glass Darkly, The Death of the Heart and Uncle Silas. I've read none...

Song said...

I'm learning quite a bit from popping in here now and then. I didn't realize ghost/supernatural stories were all that popular during the Victorian period. I just assumed Stoker was one of his kind! (This is not counting Mary Shelley)

I guess I'll be checking this author out...though I'll be doing day-time reading!