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, March 2, 2014

"The Dream" by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1848) A story by the best 19th Century writer of Paranormal Stories

Event Resources  Everyone Is Invited to Join Us for Irish Short Story Month Year Four

Ways to Participate-do a post on your blog and let me know about it-I will keep a master list and I will publicize your post and blog.

If you are an Irish author and would like to be featured, please contact me.   There are several options open.

If you would like to do a guest post on my blog on anything related to Irish short stories, contact me.

"Hi Daddy"-Carmilla
Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week. 

Joseph Sheridan le Fanu (1814 to 1873, Dublin) is at the very least the best 19th century writer of ghost stories.   He also created the first lesbian vampire, Carmilla.  He is a really great writer and almost everyone who reads one of his works goes on to read more.   Last year during Irish Short Story Week I posted on "The Child Stolen by Fairies" which really should be must reading for anyone who likes paranormal short stories.  (I have also posted  on two of his Ghost stories and I have posted on his simply marvelous novella, Carmilla-there is additional background information on le Fanu in these posts.)   He is descended from 17th century French Huguenots.  Among his most famous longer works are Uncle Silas and The House by the Church Yard.

Le Fanu was in many ways doubly an outsider in Irish culture, he was of French ancestry and he was a Protestant.   Some say you can see this influence in his works.  

Le Fanu often uses a framing device as part of his narrative structure, as do many writers of short fiction from his era, in which the narrator of the story is telling it to another person.  

I said last year that among the prevalent themes of the Irish Short Story are an obsession with death, the weak or missing Irish father, and the great impact on alcohol on Irish society.   I have read a number of East Asia short stories and these themes are not found nearly as much as they are in Irish stories.  "The Dream", not a top level Le Fanu story but very much worth reading, exemplifies all of these themes.  In a way the failures of the Catholic priest as depicted in this story also can be seen as part of the theme of the weak father.   

"The Dream" opens with a young girl at the house of a priest, begging her to come give her father last rights (the priest is relaying the story as if he were telling of a dream he has had).  He knows the father as a man who has neglected his family to spend the little money he makes drinking with debauched friends.  When the priest gets to the home, which is very well depicted in all its near famine era squalor, the local doctor is there.  He signaled the priest the man has little time left.  In fact he dies before the priest can say last rites.  As he prays with the family the man suddenly has an expression of total horror on his face and has come back to life.   The doctor tries to explain it but cannot.  The man tells a story of being at giant table in what appears to be the anteroom of Hell.  I don't want to tell too much of the story but he is allowed one more year of life.  During this year he gives up drinking (drinking was viewed then and still largely is, in Ireland and elsewhere as a sin of weakness, not an illness), returns to the days when he worked hard and uses no money for himself, fixes up the house and begins to pay his debts.  I will stop the story here.  

You can easily find this collection, which includes "The Dream" online.  

Please consider participating -Ruprecht

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