Gaslit Nightmares: Stories by Robert W. Chambers, Charles Dickens, Richard Marsh, and Others

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Nor do I think it an accident that we hear of a dragon, frequent symbol of Satan though this is no simple-minded tale of Satanic menace. As a pure aside, I liked the narrator, denying the reality of instrumental music having anything "more than melody and harmony".

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And, as a matter of pure speculation, I wonder if Chambers was doing a dark riff on Francis Thompson's "The Hound of Heaven" from Alternatively, the Christian god is not benevolent as the narrator and the Monseigneur believe. This would fit well with the epigraph. I just lost a post, so quicker version: very much liked the prose in this story, especially the first third and its description of the Church of St. I anticipated from this beginning that the plot would be restricted to the Church itself, and was faintly surprised when the narrator "leaves" to wander Paris. There was something Jamesian in the careful observations, too, particularly in that passage when he notices the malevolent organist "passing along the gallery the same way " when there had been no time for him to return to the organ room before walking again down the passage.

Jan 12, , pm. Joshi's introduction which doesn't spare Chambers for the lack of quality control across the entirety of his literary career, has worried me a bit. I don't really understand what this story is about, the "world building" behind the King in Yellow, the relation of the narrator to the sinister organist, the connection between Carcosa and both of them, and so on. Joshi has made me worry that there is less to this story than there seems - that's it's largely effect. That's not a final opinion, though. I'm still mulling over this story.


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One stray observation - that discussion of the nave near the start of the story - that in medieval churches the nave is less sacred than other parts of the church structure, and in some cases might not be blessed at all - it seems like the set-up for an antiquarian M. R James-type tale, only to subvert it and throw it away.

It seems a wry, even post-modern moment and I can't decide if the fact that Chambers wrote this when James had barely got going, makes it more or less post-modern. The focus on the church layout and terminology chancel, gallery, nave, vespers was a large part of my expectation for a tale set entirely within the Church. Jan 13, , am. For me, that's part of the appeal. Jan 14, , pm. I'm going to attempt a close re- reading of "In the Court of the Dragon" in light of the comments here, and armed with the knowledge that there isn't a great deal of explanation in the other stories I thought there might be, when the Joseph Pulver story"Chasing Shadows" came up as a selection in Jan 20, , pm.

On a Chambersian front, I just posted a review of A Season in Carcosa , a collection Carcosan stories by latter-day authors. Unlike him, I didn't read the collection with any excess speed: I bought it back in , and have been reading the occasional story or three since, finishing the last few today. Thanks for the heads-up. Those two stories were notable. The one you remarked as the bottom of the pile I can't even recall, though maybe it's just a matter of matching the title to the content.

I might tackle another one of these latter-day Carcosan anthologies soon. I recently acquired a copy of Cassilda's Song. Jan 21, , am. I've got Cassilda's Song lying about in the TBR pile too, so we may one day end up with parallel reviews of that one too. Edited: Mar 12, pm. I will collect a few thoughts until then.


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  4. I cannot begin to imagine what the author was thinking as he composed this story. I can only reflect on my own impressions and experience for a lens into it, like a fly on the wall I see but don't know. It made me grin stem to stern, finding nothing ominous, going in knowing it was a dream, re: A Twilight discussion. I liked the use of music as a 'negative' or disconcerting factor, when normally it is fine-tuned to a ridiculous degree, to inspire awe in the congregation and a sense of wholesome jubilance in the sacred experience.

    What Was It by Fitz James O'Brien

    The initial hunt observation set the tone rather than a lullaby or exaltation. The hunter was not looking at him when seated on the bench outside which fostered an idea of paranoia.

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    The figure caught up then overtook him. He passed him in the crowd coming toward him. The photo of the court and balcony with dragon support was not at all as I'd visualized it. I must be a simpleton but I saw weakness as sin. He felt guilt for something in his past which he had either confessed and still carried in his depths, or something in his earlier life he should have sought penance for but did not. Perhaps at the time it happened he felt in the right, but as he aged, there was a shift in perspective. My first thought was a tie in to the 'I was young then and not alone' comment about his arrival at the court.

    Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Gaslit Nightmares Quotes Showing of This is one peopled by demons, phantoms, vampires, ghouls, boggarts, and nixies. Names of things of which I knew nothing are now so familiar that the creatures themselves appear to have real existence. The Arabian Nights are not more fantastic than our gospels; and Lempriere would have found ours a more marvelous world to catalog than the classical mythical to which he devoted his learning.

    Ours is a world of luprachaun and clurichaune, deev and cloolie, and through the maze of mystery I have to thread my painful way, now learning how to distinguish oufe from pooka, and nis from pixy; study long screeds upon the doings of effreets and dwergers, or decipher the dwaul of delirious monks who have made homunculi from refuse.

    Waking or sleeping, the image of some uncouth form is always present to me. What would I not give for a volume by the once despised 'A. E' or prosy Emma Worboise? Talk of the troubles of Winifred Bertram or Jane Eyre, what are they to mine? Talented authoresses do not seem to know that however terrible it may be to have as a neighbour a mad woman in a tower, it is much worse to have to live in a kitchen with a crocodile. This elementary fact has escaped the notice of writers of fiction; the re-statement of it has induced me to reconsider my decision as to the most longed-for book; my choice now is the Swiss Family Robinson.

    In it I have no doubt I should find how to make even the crocodile useful, or how to kill it, which would be still better. The rain was cold, pitiless and increasing.

    A damp, keen wind blew down the cross streets leading from the river. The fumes of the gas works seemed to fall with the rain. The roadway was muddy; the pavement greasy; the lamps burned dimly; and that dreary district of London looked its very gloomiest and worst. Nature, in scheduling his characteristics, had pruned all superlatives.

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