Archive for the ‘R. Murray Gilchrist’ Category

Finally a change from the seductive evil woman theme. This story is about a woman who was forced into marriage as a child to a boy who grew into a creepy, bad husband (and alchemist). The story is told by a guy who met the woman once when they were both children, and was enchanted by her otherworldly grace.

They meet again as adults and fall in love, the creepy husband is, understandably, unhappy, and predictably, tragedy ensues. The ending is unusually graphic and sad. No ghosts or anything, just a creepy husband.

Oh, and a creepy tongueless eunuch.

It’s not a bad story,  but it’s not my kind of thing.


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This story features a man, in love with a pure, sweet, normal girl, who finds himself tempted by an aggressive, evil, seductively beautiful, witty, worldly woman.

Just like The Stone Dragon.

And The Crimson Weaver.

Yes, this Gilchrist seems to have had something of a fixation. Was he surrounded by femme fatales who kept flinging themselves at him? It wasn’t like he was an international spy or anything like that; his main passion in life was topography.

The story itself is quite nice; it’s very short and doesn’t waste any time. It takes place in the early 18th century, and the main characters are a betrothed couple. The girl asks her fiance to undergo an ordeal to prove his love for her. He agrees, and she then orders him to spend a night in a house that is rumored to be haunted.

As you might expect, it turns out to be more than just a rumor.

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Notice: Don’t get your hopes up over the title, the eponymous stone dragon is a piece of garden decor. It probably is symbolic of something.

This story was, thankfully, much more readable than The Crimson Weaver. It takes place in the real world, so Gilchrist reins in the florid language, although he still manages to sound like an early Victorian despite writing at the turn of the century.

In the story, a wealthy Frenchwoman, living on a creepy, gothic, remote estate with two daughters, tries to bully her brother-in-law into arranging a marriage between his son and one of her daughters. The father refuses, and forbids his son from having any contact with the aunt. He goes against his father’s orders, though, and meets his two cousins; one anemic, passive and sweet, and the other active, independent, clever, brazen, and possessed of an aggressive beauty.

Luckily our hero chooses the right one for a wife; that is, the dull, lifeless one with no discernible personality.

The ending is sorta interesting. It’s a decent gothicky story. There is no supernatural element.

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OKAY, that was weird.

This was one of those fantasy-world type ones you run across every so often, a sort of Kubla Khan opium-dream-type fairy tale.

Oh how I hate them.

Lovecraft was stricken with occasional fits of them, like The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, which makes me roll my eyes like a teenager every time I skim through it (it’s aggressively unreadable). Just look at a random sample:

At length, sick with longing for those glittering sunset streets and cryptical hill lanes among ancient tiled roofs, nor able sleeping or waking to drive them from his mind, Carter resolved to go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before, and dare the icy deserts through the dark to where unknown Kadath, veiled in cloud and crowned with unimagined stars, holds secret and nocturnal the onyx castle of the Great Ones.

The entire novella is like that! Doesn’t it make thine cryptical eyeballs roll back in thine unimagined skull?

Actually some people genuinely like this stuff. Novels have been based on this world that Kadath takes place in (it’s called the Dream Cycle). I should say that I like Lovecraft but only when he’s sticking (as close as he can) to the reserved, dry, Jamesean style instead of being a Dunsany fanboy. Naturally, I think his best story is The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Anyway, before I got indignant about Kadath, I was talking about The Crimson Weaver. It’s basically just like this Lovecraft/Dunsany nonsense. Some dude and his mentor wander through some nightmarish fantasy world and preciously ponder eternal questions, and then they meet up with this evil beautiful vampire woman who wants to suck their souls out of them or something. And there’s some stuff about TRUE LOVE.


But if you are into all that Dream Cycle stuff, by all means, check it out. With bold entreaty.

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