One of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, the Black Forest region is known for its wood-carving, Black Forest Cake, gourmet cuisine, anOne of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, the Black Forest region is known for its wood-carving, Black Forest Cake, gourmet cuisine, and beautiful scenery, but the dense and sinister forests have also served as inspiration for myths and storytellers (the most famous ones are of course the brothers Grimm). Émile Erckmann's and Alexandre Chatrian's werewolf story draws from that tradition, but also reminds us of the classical historian Tacitus, who wrote that Germans dress in the skins of wild beasts.
Every year, on the same day, count Nideck suffers from fits, and his chief huntsman invites the narrator to the castle to try and cure the count of his malady. A mysterious old woman called the Black Plague is seen on the castle grounds every year, and is therefore suspected to be a witch and responsible for the count's howling and yelling.
Hugues-le-loup is rich with descriptions of the Vosges mountain range, and you can feel the mysterious air of the castle and the crisp silence of a wintry forest. Traditional horror this is not, instead it leans more towards the Gothic genre with its wolf howling, dark rooms, family curse, decaying aristocracy, fainting lady, and brooding master of the house.
I do take issue with the bland narrator, who constantly disrupts the action with his long and boring ponderings. At one point he contemplates the nature of Knapwurst, "this dwarf, - - an ill-shaped caricature", and during a chase he's thinking about animals and whether "the wolf, the fox, and the ferret seek the darkness that conforms to their ugly deeds". Shouldn't you, uh, maybe stay sharp in case the witch is trying to kill you?
The story would be perfect for cold and quiet winter evenings, but the fact that it could have been told within half the space somewhat detracts from the enjoyment. Plot-wise not the most balanced short story either, but the atmosphere and the involvement in the Black Forest tradition might prove interesting to others as well.
This is also pretty much a definite must-read for those who are intrigued by the older mythical werewolf stories, and how the "condition" is portrayed in them. In that sense Hugues-le-loup is (like Hugues the Wer-Wolf) without a doubt interesting, because it treats lycanthropy as a thing of the mind (at least if I interpreted the transformation scene correctly), and one particular scene is effective in all its creepiness.
(Will probably check the other stories in the collection later on, but for now I was only after the title story.)...more
An interesting scientific approach that reminds me of Ghost Hunters and other modern day investigators, but there's a lot of referring to things thatAn interesting scientific approach that reminds me of Ghost Hunters and other modern day investigators, but there's a lot of referring to things that are never explained further, and the stories have very little variety case-wise. Carnacki goes to investigate, constructs a system of defence against the supernatural forces, and then either the supernatural force is vanquished or the whole thing is revealed to be a hoax.
It's all so formulaic that it makes me think whether Carnacki (who's an exceptionally one-dimensional character) is eventually going to die of boredom because of his job. In The House Among the Laurels the atmosphere is briefly intense when the manifestation starts to come to life, but only briefly. The writing itself reminds me of Lovecraft, and that ain't a compliment when it comes from me. Frustratingly vague and flat....more
Flaubert wrote Bibliomania when he was fourteen, right after the case of Don Vicente appeared in a French newspaper. Was it necessary to practically wFlaubert wrote Bibliomania when he was fourteen, right after the case of Don Vicente appeared in a French newspaper. Was it necessary to practically write the same story all over again? Maybe not, but the result is decent, so I don't mind. Another and the more interesting question is whether Flaubert would have wanted this published, something that he scribbled when he was very young. Anyway, I wouldn't necessarily consider this a must-read for all Flaubert fans, but it's always fun to read about book craziness à la The Ninth Gate (1999). Although I don't understand Giacomo's (or anyone's for that matter) obsession with books as solely physical possessions instead of sources of knowledge as well, I fully endorse the need to fondle beautiful book covers. I need the first edition of Dracula that I saw in an episode of one of the Anthony Bourdain shows. I NEED IT....more
Novellikokoelmissa on usein epätasaisuusongelma eikä tämäkään siltä välty. Heikoimmat lenkit sijoittuvat alkupuolelle, josta etenkään avausnovelli AliNovellikokoelmissa on usein epätasaisuusongelma eikä tämäkään siltä välty. Heikoimmat lenkit sijoittuvat alkupuolelle, josta etenkään avausnovelli Alien ei vakuuttanut. Buñuelin elokuvakin olisi antanut eväitä vaikka mihin, mutta Andalusialainen koira oli valitettavasti ohut ja mitäänsanomaton. Full Metal Jacketin sijoittaminen partioleirille sijoittaa sen taas kokoelman toiseen ääripäähän, eli nokkeluutta sekä hauskuutta samassa paketissa. Suosikikseni ylsi Invasion of the Body Snatchers, joka on rakennettu loistavasti ja jonka parodiointi lähentelee jo huikeaa. Katjan vastenmielinen omahyväisyys oli aivan omaa luokkaansa, ja tunnelma vaihteli ahdistavasta absurdiin. Elokuvien tunteminen ainakin pintapuolisesti synopsistasolla auttaa syventämään teemojen ymmärtämistä, mutta kyllä kokoelma sopii varmasti niillekin, jotka eivät leffahulluja ole. Absurdien juonenkäänteiden ja mustan huumorin arvostamista voidaan tosin ajoittain tarvita....more
While Maupassant's The Wolf fell flat, here he depicts madness in a more convincing and harrowing way. Too uneven and meandering but still worth the rWhile Maupassant's The Wolf fell flat, here he depicts madness in a more convincing and harrowing way. Too uneven and meandering but still worth the read. Even more effective when you know that in his later years Maupassant suffered from paranoia among other things, and was finally committed to an asylum....more
A family has been vilified and reproached for years. They are accused of being werewolves and causing misfortune, and due to the society's judgment thA family has been vilified and reproached for years. They are accused of being werewolves and causing misfortune, and due to the society's judgment they are forced to live in isolation. After suffering great losses, the protagonist is driven into a state of rage and "transforms" himself into a werewolf with the help of a dyed sheepskin and a mask.
An interesting early example of lycanthropy as a psychological disorder. Could also be interpreted as an intentional act to seize an opportunity instead of an involuntary delusion: why not try to shed the last remnants of a conventional society and act like a werewolf, when you're already believed to be one? The love aspect might be forced, if it wasn't about finding someone who actually accepts you for who you are, hair and all. The final sentence even has a glimpse of humour....more
Body horror in the dark corners of colonial Africa. The mysterious and moody suspense leads to a final revelation that is both disgusting and slightlyBody horror in the dark corners of colonial Africa. The mysterious and moody suspense leads to a final revelation that is both disgusting and slightly amusing. I'm kind of hoping a campy 1980's flick exists that was inspired by this story....more
Two brothers go after a giant wolf. Technically it's not a werewolf, but Maupassant uses qualities that make the wolf out of the ordinary and extremelTwo brothers go after a giant wolf. Technically it's not a werewolf, but Maupassant uses qualities that make the wolf out of the ordinary and extremely superior to other wolves. The ending was a bit ridiculous. Would have worked in a longer story, but now it felt out of place happening so quickly. I also missed the point of it all. Hunting a wolf and then madness ensues. So?...more