Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Sir Edmund Orme"

"Sir Edmund Orme"
by Henry James
in Late Gothic Victorian Tales

Well, this makes three stories out of three, so far, that haven't been what I expected.  I'm beginning to think that my expectations are at fault.  Either that or the person who selected the stories for this volume has a totally different taste in gothic tales from my own.

It's not a bad story... It's just a bit on the slow, somewhat dull side.  If you like slow and somewhat dull, this is the one for you!  ;o) 

More Specific Observations:
--  "interlocutress"-- James managed to work this one into the story at least twice.  I'm sure he was very proud of this accomplishment.

--  "perfect presence"-- Don't quite get that one...

--  Never heard "Chartie" as a nickname for "Charlotte" before.  "Lottie", yes...  Perhaps "Charla"... Maybe even "Charlie", but never "Chartie". 

--  What is with the people in this story (especially Mrs. Marden) saying everything twice in a row?!  It's so blatant that I can't believe the author wasn't aware of it.  But why do it?  To give emphasis?  That would work better in small doses.  There's so much emphatic repetition here that it gives the dialogue a tinge of melodrama.

--  "For herself she felt it to be a good time, a sort of St Martin's summer of the soul."  Apparently a "St. Martin's summer" is the same thing as an "Indian summer".

I thought Mrs. Marden's "crime" was a little tame.  All she did was get engaged, then fall in love with another man and call off the engagement.  It wasn't really her fault that the jilted fiance killed himself.  Her dumping him wasn't the nicest thing to do, but still not something worthy of years of supernatural punishment. Until her "confession" to the narrator, I suspected that the ghost had fathered Charlotte (either just before or even during the marriage to Mr. Marden), and that he was punishing her for not telling Charlotte the truth. But I guess that might've been a bit too risque for the time.