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The Green Book 3
As many of you already know, 2014 is an important year for Gothic literature. This coming August marks the 200th birth anniversary of Dublin’s “Invisible Prince”, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. While today hardly recognised in his native country of Ireland, his influence has spread around the globe, not only for his sensational Gothic page-turners, but also for his indelible contributions to the genres of the classic ghost story and modern crime novel. Would there even be Dracula without “Carmilla”?
In addition to Le Fanu’s bicentenary, this year also marks the 150th anniversary of Uncle Silas. Perhaps Le Fanu’s best known novel, Uncle Silas was serialised (under its original title “Maud Ruthyn”) in the Dublin University Magazine from July-December 1864. The three-decker novel was then promptly issued in late December by Richard Bentley. Now is the perfect time to revisit the sinister rooms and gloomy passages of Bartram-Haugh. I know what I’ll be re-reading this autumn . . .
I don’t remember when I first discovered Le Fanu’s supernatural tales, but it was almost certainly in some old horror anthology with a now long forgotten title. I do, however, remember reading Dover’s Best Ghost Stories of J.S. Le Fanu (1964) as a young student in southern Wisconsin. I know many of us first encountered the author in this excellent collection edited and introduced by E.F. Bleiler — a man who did much to make Le Fanu’s stories more widely available in an inexpensive edition.
This third issue of The Green Book, in celebration of this important year, features a number of essays focusing on Le Fanu and his work: Terri Neil looks at “The Ghost of a Hand”, which S.M. Ellis called “the most terrifying ghost story in the language”; Philip A. Ellisand Jim Rockhill comment on Le Fanu’s overlooked verse-drama Beatrice; while J.A. Mains highlights the importance of Herbert van Thal’s editorial contributions to Le Fanu’s legacy. We also have a fine essay on Lovecraft’s perceptions of Ireland and the Irish by Rob Brown, and of course Albert Power’s third instalment of “Towards an Irish Gothic”.
Certainly the cover of this issue owes something to Le Fanu too, and if a diabolical simian doesn’t leap immediately from the steam to plague your inner eye, go find yourself a copy of “Green Tea”. But Jason Zerrillo’s artwork is no mere homage to one of Le Fanu’s most bleakly startling stories. What we have here on the cover is a photograph of Le Fanu’s actual tea cup from which he drank his own strongly brewed elixirs. With its little rooster design depicted on the side it looks innocent enough, doesn't it? It speaks more of the merciful dawn than of the solitary hours after midnight. A special thank you must go to Nicola LeFanu and David Lumsdaine for providing me with this photograph and allowing its use.
And now, far removed from my native plains of Wisconsin, I am again enjoying the master storyteller, allowing him to chill my thoughts. But thankfully the sun is out now, and when I’ve finished here, I think I’ll stroll over to Mount Jerome to pay dear, old Joe a visit.
Brian J. Showers
7 February 2014
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Brian J. Showers
"The Embodiment of Sinister Agencies:
Le Fanu and the Ghost of a Hand"
"Hybrids and Hyphenates: H.P. Lovecraft and the Irish"
"Some Notes on Le Fanu's Beatrice"
Philip A. Ellis and Jim Rockhill
"Towards an Irish Gothic: Part Three"
"Shepherding Le Fanu: Herbert van Thal and the Invisible Prince"
Lesley Megahey's Schalcken the Painter (Jim Rockhill)
Scarecrow Press's Two Volumes of Lord Dunsany Essays (Martin Andersson)
Catherine Wynne’s Bram Stoker, Dracula and the Victorian Gothic Stage (David J. Skal)
Big Telly Theatre Company's Melmoth the Wanderer (Philip Orr)
Bernice M. Murphy's Rural Gothic (Emily Bourke)
Lynda E. Rucker's The Moon Will Look Strange (Maura McHugh)
John Boyne's This House is Haunted (Dan Studer)
"Notes on Contributors"
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