Monday, December 24, 2007

Diaphanous Sprites of the Upper Air

You don’t see references to Snodrog from The Pedant and the Shuffly often but here’s one: a ghost made of bed sheets in a M.R. James story reminds someone of the Flimsies “flying out into the night to do his [Snodrog’s] bidding and smother people in their sleep.” 

I have now read H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, & M.R. James.  My Old School Weird education is going pretty well.  Blackwood has very old-fashioned prose.  'His life was somehow becoming linked so intimately with trees, and with all that trees signified.  His interests became more and more their interests, his activity combined with theirs, his thoughts and feelings theirs, his purpose, hope, desire, his fate--'  But he is more in the realm of Weird with HPL & co; James writes what are definitely ghost stories.  But very good ones!!  I think he is or is part of a tradition that John Bellairs parodies.  The Catholic (or, in this case, Anglican) gentleman scholar, an antiquarian full of obscure facts about medieval world history.  One of James' most famous stories is 'Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad,' with a ghost made out of bedsheets.  It's scary, but all I could think about is Bellairs' The Pedant and the Shuffly, when Snodrog sends linen napkins stained with cranberry sauce flying out into the night to do his bidding & smother people in their sleep..  Actually, both stories mention organ stops.  (Not that James doesn't have a sense of humour!  He includes bits of whimsy in the side-details, just like John Bellairs.)  

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