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In a Glass Darkly (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

J. Sheridan Le Fanu , Robert Tracy
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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In a Glass Darkly (Oxford World's Classics) In a Glass Darkly (Oxford World's Classics) 4.3 out of 5 stars (18)
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Book Description

17 Jun 1999 Oxford World's Classics
`the ideal reading...for the hours after midnight' Thus Henry James described the style of supernatural tale of which Sheridan Le Fanu was a master. Known in nineteenth-century Dublin as `The Invisible Prince' because of his reclusive and nocturnal habits, Le Fanu was fascinated by the occult. His writings draw on the Gothic tradition, elements of Irish folklore, and even on the social and political anxieties of his Anglo-Irish contemporaries. In exploring sometimes inexplicable terrors, the tales focus on the unease of the haunted men and women who encounter the supernatural, rather than on the origin or purpose of the visitant. This makes for spine-chilling reading. The five stories presented here have been collected by Dr Hesselius, a `metaphysical' doctor, the forerunner of the modern psychiatrist, who is willing to consider the ghosts both as real and as hallucinatory obsessions. The reader's doubtful anxiety mimics that of the protagonist, and each story thus creates that atmosphere of mystery which is the supernatural experience.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (17 Jun 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192839470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192839473
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,264,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'In a Glass Darkly, --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of Gothic mystery tales, who was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. Author of The House by the Churchyard (1863) and Uncle Silas (1864), it is Le Fanu’s Carmilla that remains his best-known Gothic tale. The story of a female vampire’s advances towards a young girl greatly influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) as well as twentieth century films. 

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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THOUGH carefully educated in medicine and surgery, I have never practised either. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five of Le Fanu's longer short stories 23 Dec 2006
'In a Glass Darkly' is a collection of hair-raising tales selected from those recorded by Dr Martin Hesselius during the many years he spent working to understand and explain the seemingly supernatural incidents that came to his attention. The stories are:

1) 'Green Tea' - a clergyman believes himself persecuted by a malevolent monkey.

2) 'The Familiar' - an ex-naval captain is threatened by an aggrieved ghost from his past.

3) 'Mr Justice Harbottle' - a respectable gentleman is driven from his lodgings by the activity of a mean old judge who has been dead for some years.

4) 'The Room in Le Dragon Volant' - a rich English man on tour becomes enmeshed in an extraordinary scam whilst travelling from Brussels to Paris.

5) 'Carmilla' - the daughter of an English father, living in a schloss in Styria, is befriended by a young lady who has unusually needle-sharp teeth.

As Henry James quite rightly suggested, Le Fanu's stories are the ideal reading material after the chimes of midnight. These five stories provide a wonderful chill before snuggling down to sleep. They are longer than the tales in Le Fanu's 'Madam Crowl's Ghost' collection, where the stories are between 10 and 25 pages in length. The tales in this collection vary in length between about 30 and 100 pages.

I recommend 'In a Glass Darkly' to anyone who enjoys old-fashioned ghost stories.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of le Fanu 13 May 2000
By A Customer
This is a collection of uncommon merit, and readers will no doubt enjoy such stories as 'Mr Justice Harbottle' quite as much as the renowned vampire tale 'Carmilla'. But to those unfamiliar with the fourth story, 'The Room in the Dragon Volant' one can only say that this haunting, plangent masterpiece is likely to be the most memorable of all. This book contains the best of le Fanu's tales, better than 'Madame Crowl's Ghost', and represents the apogee of Victorian ghostly fiction.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read on... 30 Nov 2007
By -tjm-
This is a superb collection. Green tea is probably the least good but still good. The Familiar is a great tale of a man haunted by his past and eventually destroyed by it. Mr Justice Harbottle is very endearing and one of my favourite ghost stories. The Room in The Dragon Volant is long but well worth it - what could have been the perfect crime, if only...Carmilla, the vampire tale, is to my mind superior to Stoker's overlong Dracula, and was its inspiration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understatedly scary! 2 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a collection of 5 short stories that are formulated into a casebook of Dr Martin Hesselius, a psychologist. The previous reviewers have done sterling synposes for each of these. The use of language in all 5 is haunting and beautiful. Indeed, it would be interesting, if it were possible, to travel back in time and read these through late Victorian eyes. Sadly, the downside of technology is that we are spoiled by special effects and all things visual. Le Fanu sets the scene subtly, whether it be a clergyman retaliating to an apparition of a monkey (Green Tea), persecuted Captain Barton from a late crew member (The Familiar) or a hanging judge getting his come uppance (Mr Justice Harbottle - alleged to be based loosely on Judge Jeffreys) to the naive Richard Beckett almost paying a hefty price via the femme fatale of a Countess (The Room in the Dragon Volant) and the classic and supposedly forerunner of Dracula (Carmilla)exploring the lure and danger of the vampire. All 5 have something to offer anyone who enjoys Gothic literature.

It was a refreshing read and change from more modern texts. In today's culture of blogging and tweeting (GR8 though these are!), it is a pleasure to indulge in the highly animated text of 2 centuries ago.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gothic splendour! 6 July 2009
Sheridan Le Fanu's classic collection of Gothic fiction is a delight for the connoiseur of weird tales. These stories are gathered as belonging to the papers of one Dr. Hesselius, a scholar who specialises in 'metaphysical medicine'. All of them are curtly introduced by his literary executor, who wisely excises the more theoretical observations of the good doctor so that the reader can cut straight to the yarns.

And what yarns they are! It always surprises me that people complain about Le Fanu being turgid, while his tales are so readable. Anyway, this collection contains:

'Green Tea', a famous story about a (supernaturally?) tormented clergyman. In a way, this is perhaps the most mundane of the tales. Well executed, but hardly remarkable.

'The Familiar', probably my favorite. At heart a simple supenatural revenge theme, but so very well written. Indeed, the jaded weird tales reader knows all the themes by now. It's the execution that sets the writer apart.

'Mr. Justice Hartbottle', a delightful and cruel comedy. The character of the Judge is deliciously evil, and so is his punishment.

'The Room in Le Dragon Volant', a short novel set in the tradition of the Gothic adventure. A young and reckless English adventurer gets caught up in a mystery in France. Another highlight.

'Carmilla', one of Le Fanu's most favorite tales and a direct influence on Stoker's 'Dracula'. Good, but perhaps not as good as the Goth crowd would have you believe.

As always with these editions, do not read the introduction beforehand. It will ruin the stories and taint your point of view. One reviewer noted the amount of typo's in the text. I found but two in the Mystery and Supernatural edition. Not worth you trouble.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Old-fashioned ghost stories.
I liked some of these tales for their imaginative qualities but others were a little tame for today. three stars.
Published 7 months ago by dennis miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Master of the gothic
I remember reading Camilla when I was at school and wanted to reread, it has not lost its quietly creepy quality...
Published 8 months ago by Shropshire Lass
4.0 out of 5 stars Camilia
Camilia is probably one of the best vampire fictions written. I highly recommend this book for readers who love the vampire genre but are not interested in reading overly long... Read more
Published 14 months ago by X-Ma
3.0 out of 5 stars Ninteenth Century Gothic
Dorothy Sayers thought highly of Le Fanu, and I think highly of Sayers, so I thought I would give it a go. It is strange and gothic, but I am not a fan of the occult. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Richard Astley Fellows
4.0 out of 5 stars In A Glass Darkly contains Carmilla an exciting erotic vampire...
An excellent story is contained within this book called 'Carmilla' which my reading group read and discussed. It was an enjoyable and thrilling read. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mr. B. Sabharwal
4.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious but underrated tales
An interesting selection of supernatural short stories - you can certainly see how Le Fanu influenced Henry James, M. R. James and Bram Stoker. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Allie B
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection
These shorter gothic stories provide an excellent introduction to the genre. 'Carmilla', in particular, given the current interest in vampires,, is a good story for teenagers,... Read more
Published 20 months ago by pond owner
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic creepy tales
For anyone who loves the psychological suspense and mystery of authors such as Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, this collection of five stories by Sheridan Le Fanu is a... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Stew Carr
5.0 out of 5 stars In A Glass Darkly - A Review by Barry Van-Asten
Published in 1872, 'In A Glass Darkly' by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) is a collection of five short stories in the Gothic horror tradition. Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2012 by Mr. B. P. Van-asten
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyably creepy
Le Fanu must rate as one of the masters of the supernatural short story, along side M.R. James and Poe. If you enjoy them you will enjoy this.
Published on 3 Jan 2012 by HazeyJanet
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