My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure
By Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
“My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” is reminiscent of the great terror tales of mounting alarm such as Wilkie Collins’s “A Terribly Strange Bed”; the hotel scene, to a lesser extent, in Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”; James Whale’s The Old Dark House; and the more recent film The Last Great Wilderness (2002) directed by David Mackenzie. In fact, with their often arch and sardonic senses of humour, the latter two examples are most appropriate comparisons. Comfort and safety are fleeting in stories like these. Familiar and generally hospitable surroundings quickly take turns into strange worlds of indefinable menace. Terror mounts. A candle going out may be discomforting, but an accident befalling your only light source is downright sinister. Like Aunt Margaret, the reader is cursed with an active mind courtesy of the author’s vivid prose rich in regional flavour and Gothic detail. It’s only a matter of time—we can just feel it in our bones!—before the other shoe drops.
“My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” first appeared in the March 1864 issue of the Dublin University Magazine, which was then under the editorship of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. The DUM was a regular venue for Le Fanu’s work. The February issue contained the final instalments of his novel Wylder’s Hand, while the April issue saw the publication of “Wicked Captain Walshawe of Wauling”—”My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” appeared in the interceding issue. Believed by M. R. James and S. M. Ellis to be the work of Le Fanu, “My Aunt Margaret’s Adventure” shares many motifs, themes, and effects found in the Irish author’s work. This new edition will feature commentary on the story and its authorship by two leading Le Fanu scholars, Jim Rockhill (introduction and annotations) and Gary W. Crawford (afterword).
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J. S. Le Fanu Series #1
Cover art by Allison Elrod
Introduction by Jim Rockhill
Afterword: Gary William Crawford