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In a Glass Darkly
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In a Glass Darkly

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,921 ratings  ·  235 reviews
This remarkable collection of stories, first published in 1872, includes Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr. Justice Harbottle, The Room in the Dragon Volant, and Carmilla. The five stories are purported to be cases by Dr. Hesselius, a 'metaphysical' doctor, who is willing to consider the ghosts both as real and as hallucinatory obsessions. The reader's doubtful anxiety mimics th ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 384 pages
Published October 7th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1872)
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,921 ratings  ·  235 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gothic
"What a fool I was! and yet, in the sight of angels, are we any wiser as we grow older? It seems to me, only, that our illusions change as we go on; but, still, we are madmen all the same."


I read the Folio Society edition of this book and that red-eyed demon monkey was on the front cover. Every time my eyes inadvertently met his gaze I felt like I was being mesmerized. When not reading the book I kept the book facing down.

I read this book predominately in the middle of the night. I
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: horror fans and anyone who likes a good ghostly yarn
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Once again those good old boys from the days of "classic" literature show everyone how it's done without the aid of special effects, bells and whistles and ludicrous vampire based sex scenes (any who has ever seen or had Tru blood described to them will know what i'm talking about). This is a great book of short stories (Green Tea, The Familiar, Mr Justice Harbottle, The Room in Le Dragon Volant and Carmilla) all linked by the fact that they are case studies brought to the attention of
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recently found a new hobby of watching beauty vloggers apply make up on YouTube.
As a good a method to waste time as any, and they are all - oh my gosh, this is red lipstick, so red, then slap it on their lips, cheeks, noses or other appendages and then are all amazed, just how red that lipstick is, so darn good and you have to agree, yes, that is one red lipstick.

And my other all time favorite hobby is reading horror stories, especially classic. Not all horror stories are created equal, I don
Reviewing the stories as I go because I have a bad habit of forgetting what individual stories are about by the time I finish the whole.

Green Tea: Clergyman followed by a demonic monkey that only he can see as the result of all the green tea he consumes. Said "monkey" tries to convince the clergyman to hurt himself and others.

What I got out of this story: I drink a lot of green tea; I am fucked.

Familiar: A sea-captain is followed, not by a demonic monkey, but by a dwarf who reminds him of his pa
Genia Lukin
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
Sometimes oldies are, in fact, goodies.

Le Fannu is one of the fathers (parents, I should say, before Mary Shelley whacks me over the head with a lightning rod) of the Gothic horror and Gothic fantasy genres. And it's quite clear he deserves his place in the speculative hall of fame.

The short stories of ghosts and apparitions in the book are quite ordinary - for the modern reader. But if one takes into account that they were written before ghost stories became a staple and a cliche, they could be
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Five supernatural (or are they?) tales from Le Fanu, the best of which, is the longest; The Room in the Dragon Volant, an amusing historical romance set in a politically unstable France, complete with mysterious beautiful woman in distress, gentleman hero, mysterious circumstances, oriental magic, conspiracy, secrets and jealousies. This story is eclipsed in fame by the last, Carmilla, despite it really being not as good; that's what feeding Victorians with such sensations as lesbian vampires wi ...more
Arguably the first great ghost story collection in the Western canon. There is one weaker entry, The Room in the Dragon Volant which is really a gothic mystery not a ghost story, albeit a pretty good one. The chump protagonist Beckett is a classic example of being led by the dick, Victorian sensibilities aside.

Carmilla is the first great vampire story, not to mention having a strong lesbian theme that somehow sneaked right by Victorian censors. Green Tea and The Familiar, the latter a story of s
In a Glass Darkly, v. 1/3
2* Green Tea
3* The Familiar
3* Mr. Justice Harbottle
In a Glass Darkly, v. 2/3
5* The Room in the Dragon Volant
In a Glass Darkly, v. 3/3
The Room in the Dragon Volant - Part II
4* Carmilla

Excellent stories written by one of the masters of the gothic style.

In a Glass Darkly, v. 1/3: free download available at Gutenberg Project

In a Glass Darkly, v. 2/3: free download available at Gutenberg Project

In a Glass Darkly, v. 3/3: free download available at Gutenberg Project
October 2011

The one about the distressed Reverend haunted by a demonic monkey? Yeah, that was ok.

The one about the retired Navy man haunted by a figure from his past? Eh, sure.

The one about the judge haunted by the ghost of an innocent man he condemned to death? Oh, yeah, whatever.

The one about the young and naïve Englishman travelling in France, haunted by nothing but an ever-growing sense of danger and unease as he befriends a mysterious Marquis, pines for the young and equally mysterious Coun
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This was the Goodreads Classic Horror Lovers Tales to Chill Your Blood group read in October 2017. I listened to it on Kindle. This volume contains five stories:

"Green Tea"
"The Familiar"
"Mr. Justice Harbottle"
"The Room in the Dragon Volant"

I will go through and discuss each story separately.

"Green Tea"--I have read this story before. It's interesting, although the way it's written is a bit on the dry side. It's told with detachment, which I suppose makes sense as it's told through
I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, so hurrah that I finally got round to it. It’s a classic of gothic/horror stories, though to the jaded modern eye, it might not be that creepy at all. Of the stories, I liked ‘Carmilla’ and ‘The Room in the Dragon Volant’ the most — the mystery in the latter spun out satisfyingly, even if I did sort of guess how it would end. ‘Carmilla’ is mostly famous, I think, because it’s an early vampire story and because there’s a lot of homoerotic content. It’s not ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A brilliant veiling technique which adds to its gothic creepiness, including paranormal investigation by a 'physician'.
As has already been mentioned, In a Glass Darkly features one of the first vampire stories that predates even Bram Stoker's Dracula. What makes it all the more intriguing is its incorporation of lesbian vampire obsession. Gothic novels often feature the repressed parts of society coming to the surface as something twisted and evil, and in relation to vampires this could be sexu
Doreen Petersen
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Delightful collection of classic short stories. Absolutely loved it! Well worth checking out!
Lee Foust
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Some of the best ripping yarns of one Anglo-Irish mid-century Victorian weaver of ghost, adventure, and vampire tales. Perfect for the winter weather; perfect for those rainy, dark, and dimly-lit chilly days and nights beneath the eiderdown, warm drink in hand, in my late 19th century Continental European digs. Ah, you see, atmosphere is everything here, there, in both tale told and in the setting of one's reading. The mists swirl and the first-person narrators stand clueless before all-too-obvi ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: victorian
Most people reading In A Glass Darkly today are going to be doing so because they've heard about Carmilla. Not only did Le Fanu write one of the earliest vampire stories (although there are several that predate this by some distance, most notably Polidori's The Vampyr and Varney the Vampire) he's also written one of the earliest popular stories I can recall that introduce lesbian desire in any significant way. True enough, Carmilla is the high point of this excellent set of short stories. As a V ...more
Stewart Sternberg
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I decided to read Sheridan Le Fanu and I do not know what took so long! This Irishman paints some amazing scenes, macabre and tense, and given that these were written some two hundred years ago, they are still able to deliver chills.

"Green Tea" is a profound tale of the outer manifestation of a man's evil, and its theme of sight into a spirit world foreshadows H.P. Lovecraft's "From Beyond. " The story "The Familiar" echoes the first, but delivers a story of retribution.  And what is so astonish
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Impossible to pick a favorite story from this collection;however, the judge, Harbottle was by far my favorite character with his "gouty claw" and his "buxom housekeeper". I had read "Collected Ghost Stories" of M.R. James prior to "In a Glass Darkly". James was a self proclaimed "disciple" of Le Fanu and this became apparent as I read the stories from the master himself. Wonderfully creepy collection.
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Ah, 1800tallet. Mye mer underholdende enn jeg forventet, lesbiske vampyrer og demoner i apeform.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of unique tales that will keep one guessing.

The twists and turns in these stories are wonderfully crafted.
Marie Williams
I picked this up just for Carmilla, and it is easily the best Victorian anything I have read in a while. I do feel it has been sensationalized quite a bit over time. Yes, it’s fascinating that the lesbian themes made it past the censorship of the times (though that had more to do with the idea that women weren’t sexual beings) but, though it stands as a historical example of representation, the sexual themes in the story are more of manipulation, both emotionally and compulsory. Far more interes ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I only read 3/5 stories: Green Tea, The Familiar and Carmilla, the final one being the highest rated at 3 stars. At this point I have no desire to read the remaining two stories. In general, I don't think 19th century horror is for me. I find very little suspense and horror in them and mostly feel the story drags on and on trying to be mysterious until we get to the reveal. Carmilla was an exception in that the horror of the story is a main figure throughout and there were some very interesting ...more
Ian Casey
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The delight of hell is to do evil to man, and to hasten his eternal ruin.

In a Glass Darkly is one of those defining classics of Gothic supernatural horror and weird fiction which had been lurking just below the surface of my 'to read' list for far too long.

We have here three ghost stories from the man M.R. James regarded as the master of the form, then two lengthy novellas. The former, The Room in Le Dragon Volant, is a mystery thriller which toys with the possibility of a supernatural element.
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's kinda creepy, like..

You're walking down a road with your yellow haired dog. He's happy just looking around, tongue hanging out, ears up. But You're sure thirsty and wish you had yourself a drink of water or something wet like. When before you know it, this old boy comes along with his pretty daughter, who seems kinda shy, but in an odd kinda way.

There both real friendly and they both go on, telling you how much they admire that cute old yellowed hair dog of yours and how funny it is, you an
This is a fun little collection of Victorian era horror by Irish writer Le Fanu. There's a little bit of everything here: demon ghost monkeys, premature burial, lovely lesbian vampires...oh, and my personal favorite character, (bit part though he had) the guy who said this:

‘At Ligny, the other day, where we smashed the Prussians into ten hundred thousand milliards of atoms, a bit of a shell cut me across the leg and opened an artery. It was spouting as high as the chimney, and in half a minute I
J.M. Hushour
Framed as the 19th century equivalent of 'The Ghostbusters' (Who ya gonna call? Dr. Hesselius!), these five stories are presented as 'case studies' of the occult and are treated with a subtle hue of skepticism that doesn't detract from them completely. The first three stories are largely unremarkable, if prettily written, gothic tales where 'visitants' annoy, pester, and finally drive to death/insanity their victims. Nothing special. The longest, 'The Room in the Dragon Volant' which is up for o ...more
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
A wonderful collection of eerie Gothic tales consisting of psychological terrors, doppelgangers, hallucinations, and mysterious deaths. My favorite story, "The Room in the Dragon Volant," actually doesn't contain any hints of the supernatural. Instead, it relates an amazing con-artist scam that seems reminiscent of later 20th century noir tales, complete with a femme fatale and drugged sequences. The secret passages and midnight meetings in the woods add a nice Gothic element. Although I knew wh ...more
Feb 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, well-made example of Victorian Gothic horror. Sheridan le Fanu' s stories range between the fearfully haunting and the hauntingly sensuous—particularly the sapphic vampire tale "Carmilla"—and are all slow-burning. My only complaint, which is really no fault of the author, is with the repetition intrinsic to this sort of narrative. Gothic horror stories generally have the same plot arc, which can grow trying after two or three in a row. Instead, read these at intervals: Pick the book ...more
Jonathan Stroud
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Spectural monkeys, seductive vampires, this one has it all. JS
Adam Clark
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good indeed. 'Carmilla' is obviously a classic, and hugely influential, but my other favourite was 'The Room in the Dragon Volant', which I don't remember having read before.
Mike W
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I consider it a sad thing that I’d never heard of Sheridan Le Fanu. After reading this collection of short stories, I find myself wondering how he ever faded into such obscurity.

I consider In a Glass Darkly to be one of my better discoveries over the past year or so. If you enjoy gothic horror this is definitely a must read.

The 5 stories are connected via a Dr. Hesselius, a physician who doesn’t dismiss the metaphysical. He relates each case to the reader via notes and letters he’s gathered fr
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  • Tales of Unease
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  • Late Victorian Gothic Tales
  • Gothic Tales
  • The Power of Darkness: Tales of Terror
  • The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories
  • The Collected Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson
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  • Collected Ghost Stories
  • Varney the Vampire; or, The Feast of Blood
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  • The Vampyre and Other Tales of the Macabre
Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M.R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories". Three of his best-known works are Uncle Silas, Carmilla and The House by the Churchyar ...more
“What a fool I was! and yet, in the sight of angels, are we any wiser as we grow older? It seems to me, only, that our illusions change as we go on; but, still, we are madmen all the same.” 22 likes
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