by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Edited, with an Introduction, by Jim Rockhill
Dust jacket by Douglas Walters
Limited Edition Hardcover - $40.00
Fine in fine dj; new and unread, direct from the publisher
Ash-Tree Press, 2002; 252 pp; limited to 650 copies
'He stands absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories. That is my deliberate verdict, after reading all the supernatural tales I have been able to get hold of. Nobody sets the scene better than he, nobody touches in the effective detail more deftly.'
Thus wrote one master of the supernatural story—M. R. James—about another: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814–73). James's comments came in the introduction to a volume of forgotten Le Fanu tales, Madam Crowl's Ghost, which James edited, and which saw print exactly fifty years after Le Fanu's death. During that half-century, Le Fanu's popularity had slowly but surely diminished, and in the 1920s he was largely known only as the author of the popular novel Uncle Silas. Thanks to James, his supernatural tales underwent a revival, and modern readers can now appreciate how crucial a role Le Fanu played in the development of the ghost story, liberating it from its Gothic trappings and introducing a more psychological realistic aspect, which would be further developed by twentieth century writers.
Over a period of some thirty-five years, he produced some of the best—and most influential—weird tales ever written. In this series of three volumes, collecting together all of Le Fanu's short supernatural fiction, editor Jim Rockhill has arranged the stories in chronological order, so that the author's growing skills as a storyteller can readily be seen.
Schalken the Painter and Others covers the period between 1838—when Le Fanu's first supernatural tale, 'The Ghost and the Bone-Setter', appeared in the Dublin University Magazine—and 1861, which saw publication of 'Ultor De Lacy'. Even during this period, the author's mastery of the genre can clearly be seen, in such tales as 'The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh', 'The Watcher', 'An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in an Old House in Aungier Street', and the classic 'Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter', described by M. R. James as 'one of the best of Le Fanu's good things'. This masterpiece of subtle horror is presented in the two versions in which it was published during the author's lifetime, giving readers a chance to decide which variation they prefer. The extensive introduction provides a fascinating look at Le Fanu's family and the circumstances which shaped his life and writings; circumstances which cast an increasingly dark shadow over the author, and which led to the virtual abandonment of his public life a decade and a half before his death.
Introduction by Jim Rockhill: As On a Darkling Plain: The Life and Supernatural Fiction of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu from 1814–61
The Ghost and the Bone-Setter
The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh
The Drunkard's Dream
Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter
The Quare Gander
The Mysterious Lodger
Ghost Stories of Chapelizod
Schalken the Painter
An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in an Old House in Aungier Street
Ultor De Lacy: A Legend of Capercullen
An Afterword Concerning Exclusions