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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Guest: Bram Stoker (2)

From: The Lair of the White Worm

Adam Salton sauntered into the Empire Club, Sydney Hmm, a novel whose very first word is "Adam": worth having a look

[ch. 2] Mr. Salton had all his life been an early riser, and necessarily an early waker. Not to be taken for granted: see somnambulism in Dracula :-)

But the most remarkable characteristic is the eyes. Black, piercing, almost unendurable, they seem to contain in themselves a remarkable will power which there is no gainsaying. It is a power … impregnated with some mysterious quality, partly hypnotic, partly mesmeric, which seems to take away from eyes that meet them all power of resistance—nay, all power of wishing to resist. A feature to be found in Tasso's GC too, but as a power given to good people, heroes indeed!

[ch. 4] But the face of Oolanga … was unreformed, unsoftened savage, and inherent in it were all the hideous possibilities of a lost, devil-ridden child of the forest and the swamp—the lowest of all created things that could be regarded as in some form ostensibly human This is plain racism, at first sight / more in depth, a quotation from Beowulf's Grendel

… he realised that Edgar Caswall had arrived. Then, on looking more closely, he saw that Lady Arabella, dressed as he had seen her last, was seated beside him. That is, Lady Arabella hadn't gone back home to sleep ;-)

[ch. 8] “ … if the scent of the primaeval monster can so remain in proportion to the original strength, can the same be true of things of good import?”

“If deeds and prayers and hopes and earnest thinking leave anywhere any moral effect, Mercy Farm and all around it have almost the right to be considered holy ground.” A fascinating topic in this novel: does goodness leave any trace of itself?

“I am afraid, sir, that there is more going on in this neighbourhood than most people imagine. I was out this morning, and on the edge of the small wood, I came upon the body of a child by the roadside. At first, I thought she was dead, and while examining her, I noticed on her neck some marks that looked like those of teeth.”

“For some time now, things have been happening in this district … several people have disappeared, without leaving the slightest trace; a dead child was found by the roadside, with no visible or ascertainable cause of death—sheep and other animals have been found in the fields, bleeding from open wounds.” A fine cammeo from Dracula, but see also sci-fi and cryptozoology: abductions, the Chupacabra . . .

[ch. 14] It seemed to him that he was now drawn by forces which he could not control—of which, indeed, he had no knowledge—in directions which he did not understand, and which were without his own volition. Psychological horror / Tasso had introduced it into Christian epic

To be continued . . .