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The Return (Supernatural and Occult Fiction) Hardcover – 1 Jun 1940

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Hardcover, 1 Jun 1940
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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Ayer Co Pub (1 Jun. 1940)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0405081243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0405081248
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,713,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Walter John de la Mare, OM, CH (25 April 1873 – 22 June 1956) was an English poet, short story writer and novelist. He is probably best remembered for his works for children and for his poem "The Listeners". He also wrote some subtle psychological horror stories, amongst them "Seaton's Aunt" and "Out of the Deep". His 1921 novel Memoirs of a Midget won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and his post-war Collected Stories for Children won the 1947 Carnegie Medal for British children's books. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JK TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Aug. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Return centres around Arthur Lockwood who falls asleep in a graveyard after discovering the tombstone of Nicholas Sabathier and awakes to believe himself possessed by the dead man's spirit. The book is beautifully written, highly descriptive, romantic and typical of its era, originally published in 1910, I'll give you an example:- "....There he encountered merely the tiny pale-green, faintly conspicuous eyes of a large spider, confronting his own.....". Unfortunately, the book rapidly changes from a tale of possession into the tale of a man having some kind of mental breakdown and reflects more Lockwood's terror at losing his mind than his belief in the supernatural or occult. There are instances when Lockwood's physical appearance seems to change but De La Mare hides him away in shadows and dark lighting when the transformation occurs which means you're not sure what happened, or if it happened, and it's all a bit confusing. As you read The Return it becomes clear Walter De La Mare was uncomfortable with the subject matter, didn't know what to do with his plot or his character, and the story rambles on for large chunks without getting anywhere as he avoids going deeper, looking further. There is a wonderful brooding, suffocating atmosphere but little horror, no surprises and hardly any tension. Please don't take that as major criticism, it's a personal opinion, this is a novel by one of our greatest classical writers and has to be respected as such but; if you enjoy original ghost stories from this era, and don't mind the old fashioned language and tone, try some of Algernon Blackwood's work, he's widely available on Amazon for Kindle and his ghost stories are much more obvious, more tense and what we have come to expect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stupormundi on 8 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this well-written and strange story by an under-rated poet and writer who loved Sussex. It is difficult to know what genre to put it in .. part psychological part ghost part spiritual .. nice prose. It isn't a fast moving adventure more of a story of a spiritual mid-life crisis. Has a nice dreamy countryside feel to it.
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By xxx xxx on 3 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story is old fashioned but is a peaceful glimpse into that world. There is a character called Herbert Herbert who has a sister called Giselle. The main character of this novel has fallen asleep in a graveyard and woken up with another man's face. He is still himself. This novel is very strange.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never heard of this strange and wonderful little book. So pleased that I chanced on it. Haunting and beautiful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant 30 Nov. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first encountered Walter de la Mare through his story 'Seaton's Aunt' in an anthology. This novel was my next read and it solidified my opinion of de la Mare as a tragically forgotten author of immense ability.
Though the blurb about the book sounds like a rather standard 'weird' narative, what stands out most about this novel is how deeply you are plunged into issues of emotion, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. De la Mare's chief concern is the unseen world that is impossible to directly describe in words, and he demands careful reading and attention to every word, but rewards with a deep and grand vision that is rarely even attempted at, nevermind accomplished.
Being a fairly inexpensive paperback, and a relatively short novel, it's a great introduction to the world of de la Mare before tackling his short story collections.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"what was the end to be of this urgent dream called Life?" 31 Oct. 2007
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Dover edition that I read bills this book as being a horror classic. It was first published in 1922. Arthur Lawford is a man in a moment of spiritual crisis (a crisis that he does not even really realize for himself). He accidentally falls asleep in a graveyard on the tomb of Nicholas Sabathier. When he wakes up, he finds that he has taken on Sabathier's face, and what else?

I have read that De La Mare (who I only know through some poetry, vaguely) is known for his psychological horror stories. It's an interesting term: "psychological horror". If I understand what it means, then I would have to consider The Return a good illustration of the concept. In a modern horror book, the author would generally feel the need for a mounting body count and a final epic battle with swords between Sabathier and Lawford. You will find no such thing in the De La Mare.

The story is less about the story, in that sense. It is more about an exploration of human nature when the unthinkable happens. How does your wife react when you come home with someone else's face? How do you look at your own life after that? What does it reveal about your marriage? How does your community react? What do you do?

Actually, the best of modern horror often explores that very same theme. But most horror writers today would have felt as though the story had to be more...well...more horrifying. De La Mare has the strength to just let the thing be (for the most part) and as a result I was really impressed with how frightening and strange just a changed face alone would be. From the excessively normal Arthur at the beginning of the book, De La Mare carves a subject who throws light on a cruel marriage, a tender father, an unclear place in the world.

It is not a perfect book, by any means. I am not sure that I will immediately run out and look for another by De La Mare. Aspects of the ending are quite confusing, and not in a good unresolved way. Still, it was really interesting and I would still recommend it-- particularly if you do have a yen for what horror can be as a genre.

I would recommend the Dover edition. It is a slim book, and the 193 pages don't warrant the high prices that some of the other publishers are charging by calling it a classic. The introduction by S.T. Joshi is actually just the perfect length, and extremely clear.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Insidiously horrific, unrelentingly disturbing... 14 May 2010
By ricca - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This story of `psychic possession', as other reviews state, is the first of its kind that I have encountered; so much so that, several chapters on, I was still half-believing that what the main character, Arthur Lawford, was experiencing was nothing more than a nightmare. But, really, it wasn't.

Deeply psychological, this `transformation' that he went through - that of suddenly and mysteriously taking in the face, form, and voice of someone named Sabathier (long-ago dead) - posed upon Lawford the nature of existence that he has had (back when he was still...well...*Lawford*).

It was upon seeing the reaction of the people around him that he realized who among his friends were worth trusting. He even began to have doubts as to the faith that his wife holds for him, and ultimately saw the many cracks that were there all along in his marriage.

There were also copious moments wherein the story touched on the philosophical, exploring questions on the nature of life, one's purpose for living, the presence of another plane of existence, reincarnation, and the power of evil.

Frankly, this is quite a depressing story, with the main character often deliberately derided or abandoned by those whose understanding he was hoping to count on. During those times, he questions his sanity and his very identity - is he still Lawford? Or has *Sabathier* taken over him completely? Is there still a remnant of his old self?

There is subtlety in the way the author took the horror factor up a notch in every chapter or new day that Lawford found himself still stuck with Sabathier's face. A face that provokes disquiet within anyone who chances to see it. Here, then, the gothic aspect emerges, as Lawford is forced more and more to stir only in the night when there is less chance of bumping into an old acquaintance. Sounds from the night, whisperings in the dark, and stealthy voices from another part of the house also collude to constantly drive him on the edge of sanity.

Though a bit difficult for me to wade through, what with the long dialogues and constant debates on whether he really is possessed or not, there is an unmistakable mastery in the way de la Mare presented a horror story with the evil not even wholly present or even completely explicable. It is more of the unease *within* that gives this story force.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great Psychologial Weird Tale 27 Dec. 2012
By Dan McFist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While "in an unusually depressed moodiness", the protagonist, Arthur, seeks solace in the quietude of a cemetery. He falls asleep beside the grave of a Frenchman buried outside the fold because he committed suicide. Upon returning home, Arthur realizes that his face has changed. He is distraught and tormented.

Sheila, Arthur's lovely wife with a religious bent, is unable to support him emotionally. She is concerned with how this will look to the community, and becomes convinced that the change reflects some sin that Arthur committed, either consciously or unconsciously.

Alice, Arthur's 16 year-old daughter, loves her father and, unlike her mother, doesn't seem to notice the change in his face.

The Vicar is an old friend of the family. Always the optimist, he never gives up on Arthur. Yet when he comes to visit, he "forgets" to bring his glasses. Is he afraid of what he might see?

Arthur revisits the graveyard, thinking he might find some answers. There he meets Herbert, who lives nearby in a house out of the mainstream. Herbert is fascinated by Arthur's tale, and suggests that the dead Frenchman is trying to possess Arthur.

Grisel, Herbert's sister, is both curious and concerned about Arthur. She is touched by his plight, and sincerely wishes she could help him. At one point, her support leads to a breakthrough, and Arthur feels a sense of hope. He is falling in love with her; does she love him?

In the end Arthur admits that, although he loves his wife and daughter, he was unsatisfied with his previous existence. Will he ever reconstruct his life and achieve happiness? Or, is he doomed, like the dead Frenchman, to forever be "an outcast from decent society"? The author reveals the subjective perceptions of each character, without forcing an external, so-called "truth" upon the reader.

Yes, there are a few pages of meaningless exposition I skipped, and the story ends abruptly, as if one suddenly had been awakened from a dream. But I was riveted by the relationships. Many questions are left unanswered, but that only strengthens the story, leaving the reader to ponder Arthur's fate. The ambiguity and uncertainty are quite haunting; so much better than if the story had been wrapped it up neatly with a ribbon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Passing Strange 10 Jan. 2014
By JAK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The right person could make a brilliant and in all senses of the word beautiful movie out of this source material.What most reviewers miss is that this novel is intensely visual and rather sensual.Even more surprising , there is a current of humor here.The main character,Lawford , is in a horrible situation but it is also rather comic.One day , he acquires a new face , for reasons that aren't that clear.(De la Mare is not into clarity or really explanation).Strange things happen and the author has no more idea of why than the reader.One day Lawford is a dull bourgeois and the next a man with a new face possibly possessed by a long dead Frenchman.In this context he meets a strange brother and sister couple , the Herberts.I couldn't quite figure them out nor did I understand the relationship between Lawford and the sister.Either Lawford is in love with her or maybe it's the long dead Frenchman or both.De la Mare is not telling.He doesn't know. I admit to slipping into sarcasm but wish not to be misinterpreted.THE RETURN is overall fascinating and thought provoking as to questions of identity and reality.What is real , what isn't. Who or what are we? De la Mare could definitely have used a real editor.As one reviewer notes there are pages of pointless and dull exposition .Fortunately they are easy to skim through.What you are left with is an eerie unsettling story that if nothing else will encourage you to get a flu shot.(Lawford has influenza).This is the work of a writer with a rather unique sensibility and it would be a mistake to dismiss him as a creator of Victorian curios.He is deeper than Arthur Machen or the author of the King in Yellow,Robert Chambers .He's a better writer(technically ) than H.P. Lovecraft and much less loony.The valid point of comparison would be to Henry James in his "ghost story" mode.No he is not as good but there are echoes.
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