“Melmoth the Wanderer”, a Gothic Horror Novel by Charles Robert Maturin, 1820 (an Excerpt & Links)

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In his almost 200-year-old gothic novel, Melmoth the Wanderer, Irish author Charles Robert B7B9EA25-6E81-41BF-BE52-D01121CBFCF3Maturin tells the story of John Melmoth, a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life, and then spends the extra time searching for someone who will take over the pact for him. The story takes place in the “present” (1820); but the backstory is revealed through several “nested” story-within-a-story tales. These plot/narrative devices work back and forth through time (usually by means of information found in old books and manuscripts), until we gradually see the story of Melmoth’s life come together. The book also  includes interesting religious and socio-political commentary on early-19th-century England.

John Melmoth, student at Trinity College, Dublin, having journeyed to County Wicklow for attendance at the deathbed of his miserly uncle, finds the old man, even in his last moments, tortured by avarice, and by suspicion of all around him. He whispers to John:

“I want a glass of wine, it would keep me alive for some hours, but there is not one I can trust to get it for me,—they’d steal a bottle, and ruin me.” John was greatly shocked. “Sir, for God’s sake, let ME get a glass of wine for you.” “Do you know where?” said the old man, with an expression in his face John could not understand. “No, Sir; you know I have been rather a stranger here, Sir.” “Take this key,” said old Melmoth, after a violent spasm; “take this key, there is wine in that closet,—Madeira. I always told them there was nothing there, but they did not believe me, or I should not have been robbed as I have been. At one time I said it was whisky, and then I fared worse than ever, for they drank twice as much of it.”

John took the key from his uncle’s hand; the dying man pressed it as he did so, and John, interpreting this as a mark of kindness, returned the pressure. He was undeceived by the whisper that followed,—“John, my lad, don’t drink any of that wine while you are there.” “Good God!” said John, indignantly throwing the key on the bed; then, recollecting that the miserable being before him was no object of resentment, he gave the promise required, and entered the closet, which no foot but that of old Melmoth had entered for nearly sixty years. He had some difficulty in finding out the wine, and indeed stayed long enough to justify his uncle’s suspicions,—but his mind was agitated, and his hand unsteady. He could not but remark his uncle’s extraordinary look, that had the ghastliness of fear superadded to that of death, as he gave him permission to enter his closet. He could not but see the looks of horror which the women exchanged as he approached it. And, finally, when he was in it, his memory was malicious enough to suggest some faint traces of a story, too horrible for imagination, connected with it. He remembered in one moment most distinctly, that no one but his uncle had ever been known to enter it for many years.

Before he quitted it, he held up the dim light, and looked around him with a mixture of terror and curiosity. There was a great deal of decayed and useless lumber, such as might be supposed to be heaped up to rot in a miser’s closet; but John’s eyes were in a moment, and as if by magic, riveted on a portrait that hung on the wall, and appeared, even to his untaught eye, far superior to the tribe of family pictures that are left to molder on the walls of a family mansion. It represented a man of middle age. There was nothing remarkable in the costume, or in the countenance, but THE EYES, John felt, were such as one feels they wish they had never seen, and feels they can never forget. Had he been acquainted with the poetry of Southey, he might have often exclaimed in his after-life,

“Only the eyes had life,
They gleamed with demon light.”
—THALABA.

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“Melmoth” or “Interior of a Dominican Convent in Madrid”—illustrating Alonzo Monçada’s story from Charles Robert Maturin’s multi-volume novel Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). Painting by Eugène Delacroix, oil on canvas, 1831. (Wiki)

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“Before the Play”—The Lost Prologue to Stephen King’s novel, The Shining

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Alternative film poster for The Shining, a Stanley Kubrick film, 1980. Artist unknown. (Popbuzz.com)

“Before the Play” was originally part of the novel, The Shining, written by Stephen King and published in 1977; but, the Prologue never made it into the novel. It was published a few years later, separately, in August of 1982, in Whispers, Volume 5, Number 1-2.

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Scene 1: The Third Floor of a Resort Hotel Fallen Upon Hard Times

It was October 7, 1922, and the Overlook Hotel had closed its doors on the end of another season. When it re-opened in mid-May of 1923, it would be under new management. Two brothers named Clyde and Cecil Brandywine had bought it, good old boys from Texas with more old cattle money and new oil money than they knew what to do with.

Bob T. Watson stood at the huge picture window of the Presidential Suite and stared out at the climbing heights of the Rockies, where the aspens had now shaken most of their leaves, and hoped the Brandywine brothers would fail. Since 1915 the hotel had been owned by a man named James Parris. Parris had begun his professional life as a common shyster in 1880. One of his close friends rose to the presidency of a great western railroad, a robber baron among robber barons. Parris grew rich on his friend’s spoils, but had none of his friend’s colorful flamboyancy. Parris was a gray little man with an eye always turned to an inward set of accounting books. He would have sold the Overlook anyway, Bob T. Watson thought as he continued to stare out the window. The little shyster bastard just happened to drop dead before he got a chance.

The man who had sold the Overlook to James Parris had been Bob T. Watson himself. One of the last of the Western giants that arose in the years 1870-1905, Bob T. came from a family that had made a staggering fortune in silver around Placer, Colorado. They lost the fortune, rebuilt it in land speculation to the railroads, and lost most of it again in the depression of ’93-’94, when Bob T.’s father was gunned down in Denver by a man suspected of organizing.

Bob T. had rebuilt the fortune himself, single-handedly, in the years 1895 to 1905, and had begun searching then for something, some perfect thing, to cap his achievement. After two years of careful thought (during the interim he had bought himself a governor and a representative to the U.S. Congress), he had decided, in modest Watson fashion, to build the grandest resort hotel in America. It would stand at the roof of America, with nothing in the country at a higher altitude except the sky. It would be a playground of the national and international rich – the people that would be known three generations later as the super-rich.

Construction began in 1907, forty miles west of Sidewinder, Colorado, and supervised by Bob T. himself.

“And do you know what?” Bob T. said aloud in the third-floor suite, which was the grandest set of apartments in the grandest resort hotel in America. “Nothing ever went right after that. Nothing.”

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The Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood, Oregon picture here, was the model for The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining, 1982.

The Overlook had made him old. He had been forty-three when ground was broken in 1907, and when construction was completed two years later (but too late for them to be able to open the hotel’s doors until 1910), he was bald. He had developed an ulcer. One of his two sons, the one he had loved best, the one that had been destined to carry the Watson banner forward into the future, had died in a stupid riding accident. Boyd had tried to jump his pony over a pile of lumber where the topiary now was, and the pony had caught its back feet and broken its leg. Boyd had broken his neck.

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Frankenstein: The Immortal Life of a Novel

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Artist: Patrick Jones

I was amazed, recently, on coming across a list of editions of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus. I thought I would share the list with you, as we wonder, together, at the longevity of this work of art—it’s relevance then, in 1818, when it was first published, anonymously with a Preface by the famous poet, Percy B. Shelley; and now.

There are countless editions of Mary Shelley’s novel, many ephemeral and even undated, so any catalogue is necessarily incomplete. Following, is a list containing most of the major editions, reprints, and translations through 2000.

Texts published after the first and second editions are based on the 1831 (heavily revised) edition unless otherwise noted. Audio and video recordings are excluded, as are adaptations. For any single year, texts are arranged alphabetically by place of publication, with those in English preceding translations into foreign languages.

1818 & 1831–What’s the Big Deal?

Click here to see a Prezi presentation with highlights of the differences between the 1818 and 1831 texts of Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus:

https://prezi.com/m/39i_3bl2aez0/differences-between-1818-1831-versions-of-frankenstein/

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Artist: DamienWorm @deviantart.com

There are almost 300 entries just going through the year 1999. The list is in progress and will continue as records are gathered and posted.

Click below to read the list and see some interesting artwork inspired by the novel over the years!

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The Twilight Pariah, a Horror Novel by Jeffrey Ford, An Excerpt…

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From TOR…

Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford’s The Twilight Pariah—available September 12th from Tor.com Publishing.

All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion’s outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child

From Publishers Weekly…

College students on summer vacation become amateur archeologists and unearth a legendary ghost in Ford’s humorous suspense yarn set in present-day upstate New York. Slacker English major Henry narrates the adventures of his hometown friends, amiable football hulk Russell and single-minded archeology major Maggie. By day they work mind-numbing jobs, but by night they’re joined by Russell’s boyfriend Luther to provide muscle for Maggie as she excavates around the derelict mansion on the edge of town. She’s convinced there must be something unique in the ancient outhouse. Their discoveries lead them to the town’s historical library, legends of a Devil Baby, a smoke monster, and a 127-year-old woman. After loved ones are attacked, the crew enlists the help of crusty Professor Medley to vanquish the ghost. Ford (A Natural History of Hell) meticulously builds the unnerving mystery in this brief, succinct story, bringing it to a cleanly executed but rushed ending. Endearing characters, elegant descriptions, and imaginative monsters make this a breezy beach read for horror fans. (Sept. 2017)

 

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Chapter 1

She picked me up at sunset in that ancient lime green Ford Galaxie she’d rebuilt and painted two summers earlier when she was into cars. It came around the corner like it’d busted out of an old movie. She sat there behind the wheel, leaning her elbow on the door frame. There was a lit cigarette between her lips. She wore a white men’s T-shirt and her hair was pinned up but not with any accuracy. Every time I’d seen her since we’d left high school her glasses were a different color. This pair had pink lenses and red circular frames.

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“In the Mouth of Madness” by Alexandros Pyromallis, Inspired by the John Carpenter Film Based on the Work of H. P. Lovecraft

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Art by Alexandros Pyromallis (cromeyellow.com)

“Sometimes Dead is Better”—Art Inspired by Stephen King’s Novel Pet Sematary by Scott Buoncristiano

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“Sometimes Dead is Better” (Pet Sematary), Art by Scott Buoncristiano (Pinterest)

I Am Your Brother — The Return of a 1930s Classic of Gothic Horror Novel by C. S. Marlowe, Introduction & Links…

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Introduction

Briefly a sensation, fêted for the lush gothic fantasy you hold in your hands, G.S. Marlowe is one of the forgotten men of the Thirties. For some years he was only rescued from total oblivion by a brief, enigmatic account in the recollections of Julian Maclaren-Ross, a Soho and Fitzrovia character who was to become the model for X. Trapnel, the desperate man of letters in Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time.

Maclaren-Ross gives him a tantalising couple of pages in his Memoirs of the Forties, a decade by which Marlowe had already disappeared, in a more than usually literal sense. Maclaren-Ross wrote to Marlowe in the hope of adapting I Am Your Brother for the wireless, and was invited to call and meet him. He had formed a mental picture of the writer—as well you might, from the highly-strung and nuanced world of the book—as a small, waspish Englishman, so he was taken aback to find Marlowe was in fact a genial, bear-like foreigner, possibly Scandinavian, with tortoise-shell spectacles and an air of mystery. Marlowe’s flat was lit only by a single desk lamp behind him, creating a halo effect around his head, and it was warm, with the curtains drawn against the world outside. An attractive woman whom he introduced as his secretary poured large whiskies, and the conversation flowed. Marlowe praised the cinematic qualities of Dickens—with the foggy opening of Bleak House—then talked about his own work in Hollywood, his meeting with Greta Garbo (he seemed to know everyone, from bestselling author Hugh Walpole to modernist composer Arthur Bliss) and the genesis of the present book in a bedtime story he composed for the children of Enid Bagnold (heroin-addicted writer of the much loved British children’s book National Velvet), to whom the novel is dedicated.

Marlowe was a tactful and considerate host, sensing that his guest had no money: as he helped the departing Maclaren-Ross on with his coat he stroked the material lovingly and said “A magnificent coat. How I wish I had a coat like this myself”—“thus,” says Maclaren-Ross, “sending me out into the cold and rain with the illusion that I owned one enviable possession at least”.

Marlowe moved in due course to a larger and more Thirties-modern flat near Chelsea Barracks, where Maclaren-Ross continued to visit him. On one occasion he managed to get a dinner invitation for himself and his friend C.K. Jaeger, another fan of I Am Your Brother, whose 1940 novel Angels on Horseback is influenced by it. They turned up on the appointed night, only to have Marlowe pour drinks for them and vanish. After half an hour or so they were wondering if they should leave, when Marlowe made a triumphant reappearance and ushered them into the dining room. There, at the long, highly polished dining table were three place settings, and on each plate sat a paper-wrapped parcel of fish and chips.

Marlowe appeared to be living the life of a successful writer, in what Maclaren-Ross describes as “an Edgar Wallace-like opulence, surrounded by dictaphones, telephones, and typewriters,” and with a new secretary “even better-looking than the last.” But it was here that Maclaren-Ross realised things were not quite as they seemed, with the arrival of a laundry-man who refused to release Marlowe’s clothes until his bill was paid (and from whom, after digging about for money, Marlowe managed to ransom only a single shirt).

Writer and filmmaker Chris Petit rakes over this relationship in his highly atmospheric essay-story ‘Newman Passage or J. Maclaren-Ross & The Case of the Vanishing Writers’, and manages to find something indefinably sinister in it, right from the first visit: “curtains drawn against daylight; the plying of whisky; the soporific central heating; the odd stroking of Maclaren-Ross’s coat and Marlowe’s announcement that he wished he had a coat like it.”

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