Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Count Magnus"

"Count Magnus"
from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, by M. R. James

Another effective short story.  This one and "The Ash-Tree" are my favorites in the collection, thus far.  A sense of drawn-out dread-- just enough gruesome detail-- and not too many participants in the action.

This one was set in Sweden.  (See previous entry to learn why that is significant.)  I was of course interested to read the place names-- but the names of the Swedish characters, when given, seemed odd.  First, there's the family named "De la Gardie".  I guess they came to Sweden from France, because that's certainly not a very Swedish name.  Then there are "Anders Bjornsen" and "Hans Thorbjorn".  Donald (my source of information regarding Sweden ;o)) confirmed my suspicion that "Bjornsen" is not a Swedish spelling.  (It's more Norwegian, apparently.)  And "Thorbjorn", while a genuine Swedish name, is not a surname.

Also, I laughed at this bit:  "Swedes are habitually slow, perhaps, in answering, or perhaps the landlord was an exception."  Anyway, it was still fun to read a short story set in Sweden.  It was even set in a region/landscape I have visited-- the same one where Läckö Slott (a castle) is located.

My husband has informed me that the family that expanded Läckö Slott actually was named De la Gardie!  (Even if it doesn't sound Swedish, apparently. (g))  And the man responsible for many of the expansions was... Count Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie.  Interesting!  M. R. James obviously took a lot of his inspiration from real life-- as far as settings and people's names go, if nothing else.  ;o)

If you're really interested in the subject, I suggest taking a look at this page:  Who was Count Magnus?