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Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales
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Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  191 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Vernon Lee writes in the Preface to Hauntings, "My ghosts are what you call spurious ghosts... of whom I can affirm only one thing, that they haunted certain brains, and have haunted, among others, my own." First published in 1890, Lee's most famous volume of supernatural tales occupies a special place in the literature of the fantastic for its treatment of the femme fatal ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Broadview Press (first published 1890)
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Bill  Kerwin

Violet Paget (given-name of writer Vernon Lee) was a cross-dressing lesbian, a disciple of Walter Pater and an acquaintance of Oscar Wilde, so it should not be a surprise that these four tales of the supernatural are filled with gorgeous descriptive passages (particularly of Italy) and sexual ambiguity. What is a surprise to me is how well-crafted and scary these stories really are.

Each tale (making allowances for a little inversion) is about a "la belle dame sans merci," a fairy temptress who
Long out of print. I only knew of her as recommended in a book by Montague Summers, then found this accidentally in a used book shop recently. A cross between Poe and Le Fanu, and perfectly seductive and intelligent. The critic Maurice Baring described Violet Paget (her real name) as 'by far the cleverest person I have ever met in my life'. But it was a male-dominated society so she decided to write under a pseudonym. Fucking men, eh?
A truly interesting and successful ghost story (in my view) has to focus on the people being haunted, on the effects that ghosts or the belief in ghosts have on the living. These four stories by Vernon Lee are perfect examples of the right way to do the ghost story. In fact they’re among the best I’ve ever read.

Some of the most atmospheric, well written ghost stories I've ever read.
Megan Chance
Absolutely cool. Love Vernon Lee.
Madasin Mayfair
Psychological Horror in Oke of Okehurst.
The use of psychological horror in Oke of Okehurst is similar to many other applications within the context of Victorian fiction. Upon reading Lee’s novella, the first connection that I made was with another short story, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In both texts, the reader learns through the statements of their doting “loving” husbands that they suffer from nervous conditions. In the Yellow Wallpaper, the opinion of her husband, Jo
Mar 23, 2013 Gabriela rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of ghosts, hauntings, mythology, women taking action, feminist fiction
I found "Amour Dure" and "Dionea" to be the strongest, the most frightening. "Oke of Okehurst" focuses more on the various characters and how they relate to each other; the dynamics are interesting but distract me from the supernatural element. "A Wicked Voice" felt less developed, like a weaker version of "Amour Dure." The element of becoming obsessed with a somewhat forgotten past is there, but it occurred less gradually and was resolved quickly. That may be in part because it's shorter.

I pau
Carolyn Owen-King
Vernon Lee! Another revelation. A Victorian woman who never let her position in society hold her back. Openly a lesbian, she lived in Italy and wrote some memorable short stories. Inspired by the aesthetic movement and by the decadence of poets like Baudelaire, there is a shocking sensuality in her ghost stories. 'A Wicked Voice' is particularly powerful, as the protagonist is spellbound by an operatic voice from the past that has the power to kill. Layer after layer of meaning can be uncovered ...more
Lee Foust

This is another one of my series of articles for Florence News and Events, one of our English-language expatriate publication here in Flowerland--hence the journalistic tone. Any criticisms before we go to press appreciated!

Vernon Lee’s Victiorian Hauntings

In 1889 Violet Paget’s family rented the Villa Il Palmerino in Maiano, a hamlet in the hills just north-east of Florence, between Fiesole and Settignano. She will live there, between her many travels, until her death in 1935 at the ripe old ag
I will be returning to the rest of this collection asap!


Now that I've read all of the stories that comprise Hauntings, I have to say this was a really great read. The prose are long and the descriptions somewhat longer but I would expect no less from a disciple of Walter Pater. Taken as a whole I find that the scholarly introduction proves to be a little bit misleading when it talks about strong themes throughout the collection, some stories it doesn’t mention, obviously because they don’t fi
Florid in a way that only 19th Century Horror Fiction can be, but despite that (or perhaps because of it) totally enjoyable.

The first tale, Amor Dure, is one of those labyrinthine historical tales, that comes around full-circle in the author's present, whose experience we know only from his diaries. For me, it's the best of the four.

Not sure if it's a fault of the book, or of the transfer to Kindle format, but it's hard to tell where one tale ends and the next begins, at least in the transition
I enjoyed this far more than I had anticipated. As other reviewers have mentioned, the remorseless women in these tales only add to the flavor of the story. I would also agree that sometimes they stories are florid but to me it increased my enjoyment of these tales.

All in all, it was perfect reading for a time when blustery winter weather was all around me.
Firstly I love how Vernon Lee was a woman writing under a pseudonym. Secondly, her portrayal of the supernatural and the femme fatale are so well done that it's difficult to envisage where she got her inspiration. My favourite story was most definitely Amour Dure - obsessive, unrequited love, eerie church scenes and a dead woman; what more does a scary story need?
I ended up skipping the last story because I really couldn't get into it from the off but out of the 3/4 that I read, all were great, I'm looking forward to looking at some of this authors work!
A collection of ghost stories from a largely forgotten author. I enjoyed her use of language and found her stories refreshingly unpredictable.
Dec 06, 2008 Allison marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Vernon Lee was the pseudonym of the British writer Violet Paget (1856 – 1935). She is now known mostly for her supernatural fiction; she wrote also essays and poetry; she contributed to The Yellow Book. She was a follower of Walter Pater.
An engaged feminist, she always dressed á la garçonne, and was a member of the Union of democratic control[1].

Her literary works explored the themes of haunting a
More about Vernon Lee...
The Virgin of the Seven Daggers: Excursions into Fantasy A Phantom Lover Miss Brown Supernatural Tales Hortus Vitae: Essays On The Gardening Of Life

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