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Old 12-16-2016   #101
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

America produced two--some would say three--giants of weird fiction: Poe, Lovecraft, maybe Bierce (though I wouldn't agree on the last). But, aside from those Titans and in general, the British writers were markedly superior. My favorite Hartley stories are "Podolo" "The Thought" and that perambulating grave.
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Old 12-16-2016   #102
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

I prefer the earlier British/Irish writers to the Weird Tales writers these days, but I would likely have never discovered most of them without the American writers. Lovecraft is similar to Aickman in that he was also a stellar critic as well as a great writer of fiction.

Oliver Onions' Widdershins is a fine collection, and I couldn't do without his The Beckoning Fair One, Benlian and The Rope in the Rafters. The mass market edition of his complete ghost stories is flawed in that it features a lot of irrelevant non-ghostly fiction, but if I narrow him down to his actual ghostly stories then I would say he was one of the greats.

Quote Originally Posted by Knygathin
The latest story I read by de la Mare was "The Green Room". What a subtle masterpiece!
Agreed.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 12-20-2016   #103
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Since Henry James was such a significant influence on Walter de la Mare, the following essay may be of interest to some. For me, the real interest was in the second part of the long chapter when Durrenmatt's novel The Pledge is compared painstakingly to The Turn of the Screw. Durrenmatt was a genius of the macabre and a giant in 20th century literature. I found that comparison to be of great interest.

The Turn of the Screw
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Old 12-20-2016   #104
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Teresa Whistler's biography of de la Mare is well worth reading for a sense of his influences. As a young man in the Nineties, he was an aesthete and published a journal in this style called The Basilisk, printed in purple ink: we can add Pater and Wilde to those who had some effect on his prose. Later in life, when he was better known for his poetry, it was his friend Forrest Reid who encouraged him in his short story writing. He was also impressed by some non-fiction accounts of haunted houses, for example by Elliott O'Donnell.
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Old 12-20-2016   #105
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Quote Originally Posted by Sand View Post
He was also impressed by some non-fiction accounts of haunted houses, for example by Elliott O'Donnell.
I would hope he shared M. R. James' scepticism about the "non-fictional" nature of Elliott O'Donnell's ghost stories, entertaining though they are!
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Old 12-20-2016   #106
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
America produced two--some would say three--giants of weird fiction: Poe, Lovecraft, maybe Bierce (though I wouldn't agree on the last). But, aside from those Titans and in general, the British writers were markedly superior. My favorite Hartley stories are "Podolo" "The Thought" and that perambulating grave.
Just out of curiosity, why wouldn't you place Bierce alongside Poe and Lovecraft?

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 12-20-2016   #107
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

James--If you regard Borges and Kafka as highly as I do, you may regard Durrenmatt even higher. Novels like "The Pledge" and "Traps" are unique and haunting.
I recently saw yet again "The Innocents," a fine film with Deborah Kerr. Screenplay in part by Capote. I suspect Jack Clayton encouraged Kerr's performance to reflect "the Governess is deluded" interpretation. That's my only criticism; it must have been quite a challenge to film such a subtle work and to film it so well.
You can find "The Innocents" on Youtube.

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Old 12-20-2016   #108
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Mr. Veech--I like Bierce very much but wouldn't rank him with Poe and Lovecraft. "The Death of Halpin Frayser" and "The Damned Thing" are classics. But Bierce was never much for developing the full potential of his work. Atmosphere counts a lot for this reader; and Bierce's bare bones style is just too, ah, modern for me.
But I never said he wasn't an important figure. And a few of his stories achieve greatness.
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Old 12-20-2016   #109
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
Mr. Veech--I like Bierce very much but wouldn't rank him with with Poe and Lovecraft. "The Death of Halpin Frayser" and "The Damned Thing" are classics. But Bierce was never much for developing the full potential of his work. Atmosphere counts a lot for this reader; and Bierce's bare bones style is just too, ah, modern for me.
But I never said he wasn't an important figure and a few of his stories come close to greatness.
Yeah, I can see why some might see his stories as lacking in atmosphere. As you know, he always preferred brevity. But I fell in love with his writing once I encountered "Moxon's Master." His Civil War stories, though repetitious, are also fantastic. I like the fact that he was a dedicated soldier most of his life, so I'm a bit partial in that area.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 12-20-2016   #110
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Re: Walter de la Mare Strangers and Pilgrims

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
James--If you regard Borges and Kafka as highly as I do, you may regard Durrenmatt even higher. Novels like "The Pledge" and "Traps" are unique and haunting.
I recently saw yet again "The Innocents," a fine film with Deborah Kerr. Screenplay in part by Capote. I suspect Jack Clayton encouraged Kerr's performance to reflect "the Governess is deluded" interpretation. That's my only criticism; it must have been quite a challenge to film such a subtle work and to film it so well.
You can find "The Innocents" on Youtube.
The Innocents may just beat The Haunting and The Shining for the title of best English language ghost film. It's better paced than the original novella, even if it lacks some of its ambiguity.

I'm partial to the BBC M. R. James adaptations also. Wish they'd make more of those. The Tractate Middoth was quite pleasant.

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