Supernatural Horror in Literature

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Supernatural Horror in Literature by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft discusses the horror aesthetics in literature from The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, Anne Radcliffe, Matthew Gregory Lewis, Charles Brockden Brown, Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Edward George Earle Lytton, Friedrich de la Motte Fouque’s Undine, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Edgar Allen Poe,The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Guy de Maupassant’s Horla, Ambrose Bierce, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, M. P. Shiel, W. H. Hodgson, Arthur Machen, Algernon Henry Blackwood, and Edward Plunkett Baron of Dunsany.

Thoughts After Reading:

It wasn’t bad, it just goes over Supernatural Horror in Literature. It details authors, different stories, not too dry and an easy read.

For more nonfiction, go to Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century

For more Edgar Allan Poe, go to The Tell-Tale Heart

For more Emily Bronte, go to The Madwoman Upstairs

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The Murders in Rue Morgue

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue (C. Auguste Dupin Mysteries #1)” from Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allen Poe

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was the first Edgar Allan Poe story I ever read. It came in an anthology and I loved it. It is just so creepy, dark, and great.

This is also believed to be the first detective mystery, Dupin being the forerunner to Sherlock Holmes in observation and sleuthing, Many believe that Doyle coped Poe with his character fifty years later, even though Doyle insists that Holmes is based on a professor he had while attaining his medical degree.

Plot Synopsis:

C. Auguste Dupin is from a very good family, but has lost all his money and is now poor. He has just a little bit of money, which enables him to live and afford his greatest vice, books.

Dupin lives with his friend, the nameless narrator, and astounds him with his deductive reasoning, being able to tell what he is thinking!

One morning they look in the paper and see the headline EXTRAORDINARY MURDERS.

 

The night before Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter, residents of Rue Morgue, were heard screaming in the middle of the night. People heard and tried to get in, but every door and window was locked on the ground floor. They eventually gained access by using a crowbar.

When they came in the room they found it in incredible discord and destruction.

WHAT!

The women were found was a razor caked with blood and gray tresses also dripping in blood, looking as if ripped from the head. Both women’s necks were cut so badly they were practically separated from their necks. Both women were also shoved up the chimney.

Everyone was questioned but no one knows why it was committed, who did it, or how. Everyone who came in heard the voice of whoever committed the act but could not understand the language. Some think it was Spanish, others Italian, etc.

Dupin becomes interested in the case and follows it in all the papers. The only thing that was open was a window on one of the higher stories. But how could anyone get in?

Dupin believes he has the case solved and places an ad in the newspaper to catch the killer. Has he figured it out? Who could have done such a horrible act?

Thoughts After Reading:

I love this story so much. You’ve got to read it for yourself.

For more Edgar Allan Poe, go to Murder He Wrote: Edgar Allan Poe

For more short stories, go to The October Game

In other news this is my 200th post, Yay! It only took me ten months to reach it.

To go to the 100th post, go to Jenna’s Journey

A Study in Scarlet

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A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Thoughts Before Reading:

For those of you who don’t know, this month marks the 128th anniversary of this book. Published in July of 1888, these characters have found a way into all our hearts.

So Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite literary detectives.

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I’ve read almost all his stories, seen countless films and TV shows, and just all around enjoy his character. His massive intellect and keen observational skills are just so admirable, I can’t resist him.

So A Study in Scarlet is the first novel to have this brilliant detective. Many assume it is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s detective character that came out year’s before, Charles Dupin, but Doyle insisted that it was based on one of his professors.

So while the novel is split into two parts, in my opinion it is actually divided into three.

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Part I: Mr. Sherlock Holmes

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In this we are introduced to Dr. Watson. Shortly after he received his medical degree he was attached to the military as their assistant surgeon. He was sent off to India, where he was wounded and sent to a hospital. There he had even worse luck, catching a fever and becoming severely ill.

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After that he was sent home, honorable discharge, where he decided to move to London. Staying in a hotel he quickly burned through his money and found himself in need of cheaper lodgings.

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He runs into an old friend who tells him of an acquaintance that is also looking for a roommate, a Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

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We are first introduced to Sherlock Holmes doing an experiment in which he has found a way to prove how old blood is and whether a stain is blood or not. He also knows that Dr. Watson has recently returned from Afghanistan.

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Sherlock tells him about the rooms and when Dr. Watson and he look over the place and hear the rent price they find it most agreeable.

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Sherlock Holmes is not a difficult way to live with.  He is quiet, had his own habits he stays firmly by, has extensive energy when interested in something, but would have moments when he was hit by a “mood” and wouldn’t get up for months. Watson notices at times he looks like he is under a drug (opium) but Watson cannot believe such a man devoted to cleanliness could do such a thing.

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Sherlock knows nothing of contemporary events or anything that he feels does not relate to his studies. In fact Watson lists of everything he does and doesn’t know:

  1. Knowledge of Literature — Nil.
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy — Nil.
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy — Nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics — Feeble
  5. Knowledge of Botany — Variable. Mostly poisons, nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology — Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance the different soils from each other.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry — Profound.
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy — Accurate, but unsystematic.
  9. Knowledge of Sensation Literature — Immense. Knows every detail of ever horror perpetuated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an excellent singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Sherlock is also a keen observer and tells Watson how he knew of his time in Afghanistan. He also shares about how he often helps the police solve crimes. And at that very moment, a Marine comes with a note that Sherlock is wanted.

Interesting

Interesting

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Part II: The Lauriston Garden Mystery

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Sherlock receives a note from Detective Gregson to come to Lauriston Gardens as they are at a loss to how the crime was committed and by who?

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Sherlock invites Watson to come along, and the duo are off. When they arrive on the scene, Sherlock surprises Watson as he doesn’t rush inside the house to search it, but spends a long time looking at everything, from the ground, to the sky, to the house’s outside, etc.  He notices that a cab has been there. but neither Gregson or Detective Lestrade or their men know anything about that.

suspicious Hmm

The victim is about 43 or 44. He is dressed well in a heavy broadcloth frock coat and waistcoat. . His hands were clenched and arms thrown abroad while his lower limbs were interlocked as though he went through a struggling death. A look of hatred on his face and blood everywhere, but no wound on the corpse. A woman’s wedding ring is also found, along with the word “RACHE” painted on the wall.

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The detectives believe the word to have been Rachel but cut off. Sherlock points out that the murderer was male, over six feet high, smoked a trichinopoly cigar, had a florid face, long fingernails on the right hand, killed the man by poison, and that rache is German for revenge.

Whoa

The two them head down to the first officer on the scene, John Rance. They learn from him that there was a drunk there that night, but they just sent him off. Sherlock berates the man as this drunk was clearly the murderer, a cabdriver which explains the cab marks left behind.

You let him get away!

You let him get away!

Sherlock sends out advertisements in the newspapers about a found wedding ring knowing that by using it, it will be the perfect bait for the trap.

Meanwhile, the detectives have discovered that their victim was acting ungentlemanly toward his landlady’s daughter. Her brother was on shore leave, and is known for a temper. They know the two got into it and to make it worse, just like in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, they discovered the brother with a bloody walking stick.

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Sherlock of course doesn’t believe that and is set on his way. To his surprise, he is approached by a woman saying it belongs to her daughter. Sherlock follows her, but looses her in the crowd. Is Sherlock wrong?

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Part III: The Country of Saints

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Here we get our killer’s backstory and reasons for poisoning these people. Back in Utah, John Ferriar’s wagons traveling west have been destroyed and everyone is dead except for him and a young girl, Lucy. With all gone, John adopts the young girl.

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As they are dying of thirst, they come upon some Mormons who allow them to join their group and save them from death. Over ten years layer, John’s farm has prospered and Lucy has grown into a fine, beautiful woman. All the young Mormon men want to add her to their families and John’s land to their own. But both John and Lucy don’t want to become ingrained with the Mormons, in fact Lucy falls for Jefferson Hope, silver miner and son of John Ferriar’s old friend.

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With the Mormons threatening the group, Hope and Ferriars hatch a plan to escape.

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However, the plain is foiled and Hope is left stranded in the desert. When he gets back to the area he discovers that both Ferriar and Lucy have died.

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He decides to avenge their death and tracks them down all the way to England to kill them.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really loved the first two parts of the novel when we are introduced to Sherlock and his investigation.

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Amazingly well written and a definite winner.

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However, I didn’t really care for the Utah backstory. It was boring.

NO emotion = BORING!

The book would be better without it, but even with it it is still good.

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For more on classics, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more private investigators, go to Decked

Murder He Wrote: Edgar Allan Poe

Many of you may not be aware of the fact that we all have a certain man to thank for the mystery genre. Edgar Allan Poe.

What?

Yes, Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic fiction not only began a new genre, but his character Inspector Dupet is what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based Sherlock Holmes on. So here’s to Edgar Allan Poe, father of the mystery and detective genre.

Here is a brief summary of a few of his stories involving murder and mystery.

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Keep an eye out as these too will be reviewed in the future.