The Ghosts" by Lord Dunsany (1910, 9 pages)
|1878 to 1957
I hope over the remaining four days of 2011 to post on short stories by four new to me writers. (I will resume posting on longer works in January, starting with The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.) One of the great things about short stories is they let you try out a new to your writer without a big investment of your time.
I have begun also to look for writers to feature during Irish Short Stories Week- II (March 12 to March 22). Edward Plunket (Ireland) was the 18th Baron of Dunsany. He wrote under the pen name of Lord Dunsany. Plunket was born into a very wealthy and famous family. At 21 on the death of his father he became a baron. His family owned great estates throughout Ireland. Plunket served in the trenches in WWI even though he had options to allow him to avoid combat. At one time he was the Irish Chess Champion and also the Irish Pistol Shooting Champion. He was an avid hunter, a high society figure as well as a patron of the Irish Theater. He was friends with W. B. Yeats and other literary luminaries.
As "The Ghosts" opens the narrator of this first person story is telling us about an argument he had with his brother about ghosts. The brother does not believe they exist and he knows they do. He decides to stay up late, they are in an old castle, to see if he will experience any ghosts. In the middle of the night beautifully described very horrible and scary creatures begin to surround him. At first he thinks they are ghosts but then he realizes these are the ghosts of the sins of the departed. He begins to think that his argument with his brother justifies him in murder. Then he begins to realize he is being driven to this evil by the ghosts of the sins. In a really clever move, he begins to contemplate mathematical formulas and this allows him to return to rationality.
I will probably read more Lord Dunsany during Irish Short Story Week. He even has a series of fantastic stories in which he created his own mythology.
This story can be downloaded from Manybook.Net along with most of his other fiction. I also listened to this story as a Podcast through Miette's Bedtime Podcasts, the premier place on the internet for podcasts of literary short stories, for a deeper experience of the work.
It appears to me that Lord Dunsany's work is considered in the public domain in about half the countries of the world as he has been dead more than 50 years. He is still under copyright protection in the UK, the USA, and Indian but not in the Philippines or Bangladesh, for example.