Monday, 14 April 2014

L for Literary Le Fanu


Some say Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 – 1873) was the father of the modern ghost story. A highly popular author during the Victorian era, his writings almost faded into obscurity following his death. However, it was the antiquarian scholar and ghost story author in his own right, M R James, who revived the writings of Le Fanu with the publication of a collection of stories under the title Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery. The writings of Le Fanu were to prove influential to other writers such as Bram Stoker whose novel Dracula was influenced by Le Fanu's vampire story Carmilla. Following the death of his wife, Sheridan Le Fanu became increasingly reclusive which earned him the nickname 'the invisible prince'. According to his son Brinsley, most of his stories were written by candlelight whilst in his bed between the hours of midnight to dawn. Given his place in the development of the genre, and with the theme of our current submission callout for tales in the style of the 19th century ghost story, it is hardly surprising that Le Fanu has been mentioned in some of our previous blogs, both as a personal favourite and with respect to the 'Baneful Banshee'. However, the following will briefly discuss yet another story by Sheridan Le Fanu.

Sheridan Le Fanu employs a rather interesting narrative style in An Authentic Narrative of a Haunted House which can be found in volume 2 of his ghostly tales. This tale is written as a report detailing separate accounts of inexplicable events which allegedly occur within a secluded country house as described by the various residents. Although there are commonalities between the observations, the decision regarding  whether or not to accept each version of the events is left for the reader to decide. The use of this unusual fragmented point of view and the careful development of details as they are presented, progressively draw readers into the story. These techniques allow readers to generate their own explanations and contribute to a unique and intriguing narrative style.

Sheridan Le Fanu is the fourth author discussed in our series of blogs inspired by the April A-Z Challenge, and follows previous discussions regarding Henry James, M R James and Rudyard Kipling.

Rest assured there are more to follow! 

Further reading:

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This blog post was written in the spirit of the April 2014 A-Z Challenge whereby a post is written every day during the month of April (with the exception of Sunday). The theme of each post is meant to correspond with a letter of the alphabet in sequential order. Tomorrow's post will be on M. For details and to visit the A-Z Challenge website, click here.


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