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

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"The Old House in Vauxhill Walk" by Charlotte Riddell

"The Old House in Vauxhill Walk" by Charlotte Riddell  (1882, 11 pages)

Irish Short Story Week Year Two
March 11 to July 1
 Gothic and Ghost Stories 
April 15 to April 21

My Prior Posts for ISSW Year Two

Great Resources Page on Charlotte Riddell

Please consider joining us for ISSW2.

Ghost and Gothic stories are both a very big part of the Irish Short Story.  I think, based on the six stories I have read, that Charlotte Riddell (1832 to 1906-County Antrim, Ireland) should be listed along with Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, Lord Dunsanny and Bram Stoker as one of the greatest of all time writers of ghost and Gothic stories.   (There is some background information on Riddell in my post on her for Irish Short Story Week in 2012.)   She will be our guest host for this week.  There will be posts on a ghost story of Elizabeth Bowen (she believed in ghosts as do I), as well as ghost stories by Stoker and le Fanu.   Lord Dunsanny will show us his flash fiction and Guy de Maupassant will be our fifth guest.
"Thanks for joining us"-
Charlotte Riddell

The opening of "The Old House in Vauxhill Walk" really grabbed my attention.  We meet a young man, 21 and for all appearances a gentleman, walking the streets late at night in the bad part of town.  He says he is homeless but he does not look like the desperate people the streets are crammed with.   It turns out he has just had a bad fight with his wealthy father and he has left home, he thinks, never to return.  The part of town he is walking through is made up of once grand homes now converted into rooming houses.   Houses can have declines just like families we learn.   Lucky for the young man, a man who used to work as a servant for his family now manages a boarding house and he sees him and invites him in for the night and a much needed meal.   

While sleeping he has a vision of a very ugly old woman sitting in a chair counting cold coins over and over.  From a dark corner of the room an army of the destitute begin to walk in front of the woman, the poor, the old, the starving, the orphans.   Prominent among them is a young woman with an infant, turned out of her home.   In the morning the man retells his vision and assumes it must have been a nightmare.   I do not want to give away much of the plot of this wonderful story but Riddell does a great job making me believe that the ghosts are real.   The young man learns a valuable lesson, of course.

I really respected Riddell for her depiction of  the poor.   You can read this story through the Charlotte Riddell Resources Page listed at the top of this post.

Mel u


shaunag said...

Thanks, Mel. I must return to her work and I look forward to your posts on Bowen.

IMAGINE said...

Can you take a look at what I write and provide feedback... if you want. I write short stuff. My blog with short stories and poems.