I’ve managed to read a few short stories for the RIP II challenge. I forgot I have an anthology collection of short stories called Fantastic Worlds, Myths, Tales, and Stories edited by Eric S. Rabkin. It was initially published in 1979. It has stories by genre, including horror and ghost stories.
The three horror stories are The Sandman by E.T.A Hoffmann, The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe, and The Picture in the House by H.P. Lovecraft. The three ghost stories are The Hand by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, The Moonlit Road by Ambrose Bierce and Lost Hearts by M. R. James. I think this may have been a textbook for a course on short stories at one time. The publisher is Oxford University Press and the range of genres represented in the book is pretty wide.
I read all 3 horror stories and 2 of the 3 ghost stories. For the horror stories, Hoffman’s The Sandman starts as a story told in letters. It tells of the troubles of a young man who is convinced all his troubles are caused by the Sandman. His father has been killed. He is currently at the University, but when he becomes besotted with a professor’s daughter, he becomes unhinged and obsessed. It goes down hill from there. I’m reminded of some ideas used in steampunk, but the story was written in 1816, so it isn’t retro, its the original deal.
Poe’s The Black Cat would be banned by PETA these days, with good reason. Poor wife, poor kitty, poor Pluto. Our faithless narrator is in the grip of the demon drink, and everyone around him pays for it. The story is moody in the extreme, and much in the mindset of the challenge.
I haven’t read much, if any Lovecraft before, so I was looking forward to seeing what his writing was like. The story is set in his Miskatonic Valley, but without the appearance of the elder beings. Our narrator has been out doing genealogical research in the valley, and is caught by a nasty storm and must seek shelter in a very old house. He meets the owner of the house and sees some of his books. This isn’t particularly scary in itself, but the descriptions of the house and the owner, not to mention the book the owner asks the narrator to read are very creepy. I think I need to try a few more stories of his.
I read Le Fanu’s The Hand, and it seemed like it was a standard ghost story. Nothing really out of the ordinary, but it was written in 1861, so I think I may be a much more jaded reader of ghost stories than his contemporary audience.
Bierce’s The Moonlit Road is a very familiar story, and is a much more tragic one. The ghost of the murder victim appears by moonlight on the road to her husband and son. Husband cannot handle it and runs. Since he was the killer, he is haunted by her.
Short stories are a nice way to be able to read when life is too full. I need to read more stories out of this anthology now.