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The Dark Domain

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  736 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Poland's strong Catholic faith engendered in its literature a lively awareness of the Devil and a love of the supernatural and the fantastic. These stories are explorations of the extreme in human behaviour, where the bizarre chills the spine, and few authors can match Grabinski's depiction of seething sexual frenzy. The Dark Domain will introduce to English readers one of ...more
Paperback, 153 pages
Published July 31st 2013 by Dedalus
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Bill Kerwin

The Polish writer Stefan Grabinski is known for his early modernist tales of terror, tales filled with speeding trains and gritty sexuality. His modernity, however, runs deeper than that, and his stories deserve to be remembered for more than locomotive imagery and furtive gropings in the dark.

In his early years at the University of Lwow, Stefan learned he suffered from tuberculosis, the Grabinski family hereditary complaint. After graduation, he worked as a high school teacher, and achieved som
Janie C.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beguiling and potent collection of stories.  The author's quixotic nature is clearly evident in his writing.  Always the outliers, his protagonists believe in the strength of the mind and the cogency of their own visions. 

Trains are a constant image in many of the tales.  A character takes trips without destinations, "under the influence of cosmic and elemental forces," leaving constraints of normal routine behind.  Celestial paths guide supreme motion.

Grabinski believed in the powers
Feb 26, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the death of time
Recommended to S̶e̶a̶n̶ by: the problem of the open door
The Polish writer Stefan Grabiński reminds me of his Austrian contemporary Gustav Meyrink in that both writers were deeply immersed in the subject matter forming the backbone of their respective brands of weird fiction (see Meyrink's The Opal for an equally if not more satisfying collection). This lends a degree of authenticity to their writing that bolsters its overall effect and sets them apart from some of their less obsessive peers. With weird fiction in particular, one can usually pick up o ...more
Nate D
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: unsettled philosophers
Recommended to Nate D by: the occult may yet lurk in the latest technology
Stefan Grabinski is usually mentioned as the Polish variant of various contemporaneous horror writers from further west, but besides being a horror writer, this ignores his incomparable talents. Metafictional dialogue on the creative process, modernist unease at the technological advances of the time, decadent/symbolist ability to temper the intellectual with the impulses of uncontrollable passions, and a facility for dream imagery and disconcerting sense of place possibly owing more to incipien ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stefan Grabinski’s tales in The Dark Domain delves deeply into the human psyche and tries to stare down the darkness and unknown fears that reside there. His prose is striking, beautiful and eerie at all times and conjures forth deeply haunting and disturbing images in his stories. Grabinski’s tales in this collection were written from 1918 and onwards if I’m not mistaken, but they read as incredibly contemporary both in setting and motifs he uses in his stories. Trains feature heavily in his ta ...more
Nancy Oakes
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Now and then I find a book that defines my reading raison d'être, and this is one of them. It is beyond a doubt one of the best books I've read in 2016, and I feel fortunate indeed in having discovered Stefan Grabinski, who seems to be another long-forgotten, neglected author whose work really merits an emergence from obscurity.

There are eleven stories in this book, along with an introduction by the editor & translator Miroslaw Lipinski as well as an afterword by Madeleine Johnson. In a word, i
Lorenzo Berardi
I'd like to be indulgent with Stefan Grabiński . For he deserves that. For writing the sort of fiction he delivered in his time and place wasn't easy at all, as you will read soon.

The eleven short stories you can find in 'The Dark Domain' are only a tiny fraction of what Grabiński published in his native Poland including five novels and five works for theatre.

And yet, it's with short stories that pan Grabiński briefly touched fame during his short and unfortunate lifetime. And what short storie
Dhanaraj Rajan
What do I say about this collection of short stories?

It is an interesting collection of short stories. It is interesting because the short stories are supposed to be 'psychofantasy' or 'metafantasy'. The psychological or the metaphysical aspects are the important themes of Grabinski's short stories.

An excerpt from the sort story THE GLANCE:

"Does the world which encompasses me exist at all? And if it indeed exists, is it not created by thoughts? Maybe everything is only a fiction of some deeply m
"The Motion Demon"
"The Area"
"A Tale of the Gravedigger"
"Szamota's Mistress"
"The Wandering Train"
"Vengeance of the Elementals"
"In the Compartment"
"Saturnin Sektor"
"The Glance"

This book is a collection of short stories by a great Polish writer of supernatural fiction who was virtually unknown in the English speaking world for decades. Lovecraft, for example, in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" makes no mention of Grabinski. The translation and I
Always interesting to read another culture's attempts at horror and supernatural fiction and this is some of the best yet.

You could make a strange connection between Grabinski and Algernon Blackwood, although in Grabinski's case the enormous, implacable forces mankind faces off against are elemental physical energies like Fire, Motion, etc. instead of the rural, naturalistic, quasi-pagan forces of Blackwood. You could also make an assertion that Grabinski is oddly allied with the Futurist moveme
Year of New Authors

Have you ever read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as an adult and thought: 'why, I so do wish there was another collection of creepy and eclectic stories that swing between the deeply creepy and the deeply stupid, but for grown ups and covering most of the zeitgeist fears, rabid misogyny and train loving of an early 20th Century readership'?. Well one, that's oddly specific of you, and two, The Dark Domain most certainly provides.

Grabinski observes a miriade of mundane con
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Until now I’d avoided naming a favorite author because I hadn’t read enough of any one author’s work to warrant a qualified, sincere opinion on my part. However, I can now enthusiastically say I have one! Yes, my opinion is based on this collection of Grabinski’s short stories alone, but when you stumble across something good, you know it!

I hesitate to mention that Grabinski's work is described as supernatural or fantastic writing as I find classifying it as such is way too confining for what h
T.D. Whittle
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
These stories are a hundred years old and as fresh today as the day they were written; creepy and brilliant tales which I highly recommend if you like psychological horror in a literary style. My favourites in this collection are The Area and Szamota's Mistress. ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm entirely convinced that if Lovecraft had known of Stefan Grabinski, he would have included him in his famous essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature." Occasionally I come across an obscure author from the past who truly surprises me, but it's rare. This is one of those cases.

I first heard of Grabinski after reading his impressive (and quite scary) story "The White Wyrak" in Jeff and Ann Vandermeer's anthology "The Weird." (The best horror and weird fiction anthology I've read, thus far.) Th
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
and to think these were written in the early years of the 1900's... quite amazing... frenzied sexual debauchery, trains, madness, modernity and its perils, doom and gloom atmospherics, and more trains, muscular imagery, quite stereotypical masculine eye, and exclamation points, a lot of them :)

the guilty parties...
+ Fumes - great sense of atmosphere, overtly sexual
+ The Motion Demon - modernity as evil force
+ The Area - autobiographical, seemingly… overcome your fictional self?
+ A Tale of the Gr
The book is appropriately titled, for indeed the stories in it are like entering the dark domain of the human mind. These 11 short stories compilation, are bizarre and dark, psychological horror.

Here's the list of stories in my order of preference -

The Glance
Saturnin Sektor
A Tale of the Gravedigger
Vengeance of the Elementals
Szamota's Mistress
The Area
In the Compartment
The Wandering Train
The Motion Demon
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Demons that feed on motion, a strange encounter in a remote inn, an author whose unborn characters wreak their revenge, a necromantic romance, and more. A luscious and decadent buffet of weird tales from underappreciated Polish author Stefan Grabinski. Go, read, revel, enjoy.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of eleven very good short "macabre fantasy" stories from the undeservedly obscure writer that (wikipedia at least) calls the Polish Poe. Despite a handful of stories that riff on tried and true ghost story themes (but how could you see her - Jadwiga has been dead for two years!) there was quite a lot of very original and imaginative stuff here, like a fire chief who figures out that fire elementals are communicating with him, or the wonderfully paranoid Saturnin Sektor, wher ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A ghoulishly good read. Grabiński obviously had quite the inventive imagination, and I enjoy his prose (also nice to see a horror/supernatural writer from that era not afraid to lace his fiction with sex). "The Area" in particular was very modern... wouldn't look out of place in a Thomas Ligotti book. ...more
Jim Smith
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cold, erotic, elliptical and fascinating. This author somewhat changed how I perceive trains. In Grabinski's stories motion, sexuality and the elements control the lives of his oblivious puppets.

The Glance was my favourite tale.
Very neat short stories, would like to read more of them.

"And yet, after his thorough examination, which lasted more than a month, Master Vincent showed that behind the pious, seemingly dignified works of art was hidden a sacrilege exhibiting truly devilish skill. The monuments, the marble sarcophagi and family tombs were one uninterrupted chain of blasphemies and satanic concepts. From behind the hieratical poses of tomb angels appeared the vulgar gesture of a demon, on lips bevelled with suff
These stories were originally published in Polish in collections published between 1918 and 1922.

I found a lot of these stories quite brief and not particularly memorable. A lot of them deal with the idea of split personalities or spiritual doubles. Several also center around the train as a malevolent modern force of power and evil. They have a stark and dreamlike quality, containing elements of the supernatural.

The most memorable was 'Vengeance of the Elementals' where a man who has the abilit
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of short stories from an author I knew nothing about. I was reading an interview with China Miéville and he recommended it to all of those who were keen to explore the beginnings of weird fiction, I'm glad I picked it up.

Grabiński loves his twist endings and to create atmosphere by crossing the daily with the paranormal. Sometimes the stories jump into something that I can only call magical realism, but of course, they are mostly grim and melancholic.

Favorite Stories:

"A Tale
While many have rightfully extolled the originality and prescience of Grabinski's modernist themes, few reviewers have noted how his frequent use of third-person narrative distances the reader from the skewed perspectives which he portrays. In Poe's best stories, altered states of consciousness--be it monomania or outright insanity--are not filtered through another voice, but come directly through the disturbed individual's own voice. Story after story, Grabinski presents the reader with bizarre ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Chilling collection of eleven supernatural stories with psycho-philosophical underpinnings. It's hard to believe they were written nearly 100 years ago! Usually these collections are uneven in quality, but I liked every one in this group. Some of my favorites:

"The Area": a writer who wants to write fantasy which will become reality. A gothic, wherein figures a mysterious villa and its peculiarities.
"Tale of the gravedigger": a straightforward spooky story
"Wandering Train": a train which appears
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Polish short stories published 1918, 1919 and 1922, much like Lovecraft but with that period feel that I liked from Kate Chopin's work. Each story is unique, a little treasure, but you wouldn't want to eat while reading some of these stories, as it can get a bit twisted. One of my all time favorites! ...more
Gintarė Voraitė

"Absoulute fulfillment would also be a complete release of one's energy, causing death through a surfeit of artistic exertion. Because the ideal, as is known, is in death"
Jim Dooley
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the benefits I appreciate most about being a GoodReads member is that I am so often the recipient of referrals that would have otherwise passed me by. That is certainly the case with this excellent book that was recommended by Friends and that has proved to be a very worthwhile read.

It is important to note that this collection of short stories is almost a century old at this writing, yet the writer's style was very accessible to me. Often, when reading period works, the language style an
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interlibrary loan courtesy of the Spokane County Library District, Spokane, WA

An incredible volume of Polish short stories of the macabre, or of weird fiction (if you will). The stories can be about demons or ghosts and atmospherically traditional. Then, again, some almost have a philosophical or mathematical bent. For instance, "Saturnin Sektor" seems like a story a Time Lord would appreciate. Many of the stories revolve around trains, and many feature characters who are confused at their place
Juho Pohjalainen
Weird, quirky, maddening, and occasionally lewd stories that can bring forth an uncomfortable feeling out of my chest unlike anything else I've read. ...more
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Stefan Grabiński (February 26, 1887 - November 12, 1936) was a Polish writer of horror fiction, sometimes called "the Polish Poe".

Grabiński worked as teacher in Lwów and Przemyśl and is famous for his train stories collected in Demon ruchu (The Motion Demon). A number of stories were translated by Miroslaw Lipinski into English and published as The Dark Domain. In addition, some of his work has be

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“And if, indeed, there is nothing beyond the corner? Who can affirm if beyond so-called ‘reality’ anything exists at all? Beyond a reality that I have probably created? As long as I’m steeped in this reality up to my neck, as long as it is sufficient for me—everything is tolerable. But what would happen if I wanted one day to lean out of my safe environment and glance beyond its borders?” 1 likes
“Yet I am still somewhat hampered. I cannot free myself from that strong, commanding voice which speaks to me, or from that mysterious power which pushes aside objects, contemptuous of their size; I am still wearied by endless monotonous roads that led nowhere. That is why I am not a perfect spirit, only an 'insane person', someone who arouses in normal people pity, contempt or fear. But I do not complain. Even like this, I am better off than those of healthy mind.” 1 likes
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