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Old 01-08-2022, 01:55 PM   #1
GrannyGrump
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Blackwood, Algernon: Day and Night Stories. v1. 09 Jan 2022

Blackwood’s ghosts reside in worlds which coexist with our own but can only be conjured up by sympathetic imaginations. Sometimes they show us a wilder, better place where we can relive our Pagan ancestry and get closer to Nature, sometimes they show us portents of danger or death.

Of the former type, the second story “The Touch of Pan” is a consummate example of how a feral nature can cross over into that pagan place and escape the cynicism of the modern world. In “Initiation,” a businessman is taken to a similar place by his nephew while on holiday in the Alps, where he learns first-hand that “Beauty is imperishable”.

Of the latter type, in “The Other Wing” (my favourite story) danger is averted years in advance when a boy’s curiosity shepherds him behind a green baize door in the deserted wing of his country home to discover the place where “Sleep taught and trained her flock of feathered Dreams.”

The final two stories in the sequence are of a piece, called “Transition” and “The Tradition” respectively, compact little harbingers of death in the guise of a party of welcoming friends and a spectral white horse.

“The Wings of Horace” was another birdman rhapsody, all the better for its shorter length, and “A Victim of Higher Space” has Dr. Silence try to cure a patient who has learnt how to live in the fourth dimension.

(—Goodreads review)

The collection also includes: “The Tryst,” “A Desert Episode,” “The Occupant of the Room,” “Cain’s Atonement,” “An Egyptian Hornet,” “By Water,” “H. S. H.,” and “A Bit of Wood.”

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One of the foremost British writers of supernatural tales in the twentieth century, Algernon Blackwood (1869–1951) wrote stories in which the slow accumulation of telling details produced a foreboding atmosphere of almost unendurable tension. Though he wrote a number of horror stories, his most typical work seeks less to frighten than to induce a sense of awe. Literary critic S. T. Joshi stated, “His work is more consistently meritorious than any weird writer’s except Dunsany’s.”

Blackwood’s literary renown began in 1908 with the publication of a highly successful collection of stories, John Silence — Physician Extraordinary, featuring a “psychic doctor.” His two best known stories are probably “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”.

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Day and Night Stories, by Algernon Blackwood (1869–1951), was first published in 1917. This ebook is in the public domain where copyright is “Life+70” or less, and in the USA.
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