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Old 06-06-2017   #331
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Joshu View Post
Aickman was a master of subtlety or the principle "show, don't tell". I liked how "The Inner Room" hinted at cannibalism
Aickman and Cannibalism
John Magwitch Cannibalism | THE LAST BALCONY: On the Essex Edge

Ah, yes. I suppose I should admit that these dubious insights were mine, that this commenter was me and I him. In my defense, they should be approached only with the understanding that they were formed under the influence of entirely legal, wholesome, professionally prescribed psychoactive medications. And probably not enough of them.


If you have a copy of the Scribner's edition of "Cold Hand in Mine" (the hardback with the Gorey-illustrated jacket), I seem to recall that in the text on the front flap "cannibalism" is explicitly mentioned as one of the hidden themes or motifs of the author's "Kafkaesque" stories. This detail in particular must have stood out for me and lodged in my brain somewhere, anthropophagy being a subject I've always enjoyed. So prompted, I may have been a bit overzealous in reading it into his work, hoping to see signs or suggestions of flesh-eating where there were none. No doubt there are a few hints of it here and there in the stories, but even those are too isolated and ambiguous to form a strong, unified impression. I'm still a fan, though, certainly.


Much more recently, I read and very much enjoyed the Tartarus volume "The Strangers and Other Writings" which collects some of Aickman's unpublished stories along with a number of his essays and reviews and some illuminating comments from an old friend of his. One thing that stood out for me from reading this was learning that, through his friendship with a certain researcher into supposed hauntings and so on, Aickman had access to a huge, comprehensive private library of occult and related literature, which would have provided him a wealth of knowledge on the most obscure areas of religion, mythology, legend, occult practice and so on extending back into pre-antiquity. It is this rich, deep, diverse foundation of arcana and timeless mystery that is the hidden genius of his best supernatural stories, I believe.

Who provideth for the raven his food?
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Old 06-07-2017   #332
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by cannibal cop View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Joshu View Post
Aickman was a master of subtlety or the principle "show, don't tell". I liked how "The Inner Room" hinted at cannibalism
Aickman and Cannibalism
John Magwitch Cannibalism | THE LAST BALCONY: On the Essex Edge

Ah, yes. I suppose I should admit that these dubious insights were mine, that this commenter was me and I him. In my defense, they should be approached only with the understanding that they were formed under the influence of entirely legal, wholesome, professionally prescribed psychoactive medications. And probably not enough of them.


If you have a copy of the Scribner's edition of "Cold Hand in Mine" (the hardback with the Gorey-illustrated jacket), I seem to recall that in the text on the front flap "cannibalism" is explicitly mentioned as one of the hidden themes or motifs of the author's "Kafkaesque" stories. This detail in particular must have stood out for me and lodged in my brain somewhere, anthropophagy being a subject I've always enjoyed. So prompted, I may have been a bit overzealous in reading it into his work, hoping to see signs or suggestions of flesh-eating where there were none. No doubt there are a few hints of it here and there in the stories, but even those are too isolated and ambiguous to form a strong, unified impression. I'm still a fan, though, certainly.


Much more recently, I read and very much enjoyed the Tartarus volume "The Strangers and Other Writings" which collects some of Aickman's unpublished stories along with a number of his essays and reviews and some illuminating comments from an old friend of his. One thing that stood out for me from reading this was learning that, through his friendship with a certain researcher into supposed hauntings and so on, Aickman had access to a huge, comprehensive private library of occult and related literature, which would have provided him a wealth of knowledge on the most obscure areas of religion, mythology, legend, occult practice and so on extending back into pre-antiquity. It is this rich, deep, diverse foundation of arcana and timeless mystery that is the hidden genius of his best supernatural stories, I believe.
Fascinating, Cannibal Cop (John Magwitch). Thanks.
At least we know Dickens' Magwitch was a cannibal, and Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain was a big influence on Aickman. As well as John Cowper Powys' INMATES?

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Old 06-07-2017   #333
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by Nemonymous View Post

Fascinating, Cannibal Cop (John Magwitch). Thanks.
At least we know Dickens' Magwitch was a cannibal, and Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain was a big influence on Aickman. As well as John Cowper Powys' INMATES?
I'm glad I could clear that up, Des. The Powys is a title I'm unfamiliar with, I'll have to look into it.

Now that I think about it, the Sawney Bean legend could have made for an interesting tale in Aickman's hands, something of a companion piece to his Sweeney Todd-inspired nightmare.

Who provideth for the raven his food?
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #334
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Re: Robert Aickman

Can someone be kind and give me a *spoiler* synopsis of "Wood"? This story is not included in any of my three Aickman collections (but "Into the Wood" is) and I don't expect I will ever get a chance to read it. But I would still like to know what it is about.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #335
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
Can someone be kind and give me a *spoiler* synopsis of "Wood"? This story is not included in any of my three Aickman collections (but "Into the Wood" is) and I don't expect I will ever get a chance to read it. But I would still like to know what it is about.
A cheap option might be to get this anthology which contains "Wood".


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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #336
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Re: Robert Aickman

A synopsis would fail to do it justice, as it's one of Aickman's finest stories. I have it in the Tartarus edition of Tales of Love and Death, which is still in print.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 6 Days Ago   #337
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Re: Robert Aickman

May I ask, ... is someone in "Wood" actually transformed into wood, or into a weathercock? Or is the supernatural element more on an intangible/nebulous level?
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Old 6 Days Ago   #338
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Re: Robert Aickman

Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
May I ask, ... is someone in "Wood" actually transformed into wood, or into a weathercock?
Yes. It is most haunting and essential Aickman.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 6 Days Ago   #339
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Re: Robert Aickman

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Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin View Post
May I ask, ... is someone in "Wood" actually transformed into wood, or into a weathercock?
Yes. ...
That must be truly nightmarish.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #340
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Re: Robert Aickman

It's also a very funny story.

I'm going through Aickman's series of Fontana Books of Great Ghost Stories again. Hartley's The Travelling Grave was an inspired choice to kick off the series.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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