Sunday, April 06, 2014
Weird French Governess
Very gray today, perfect for reading this novel UNCLE SILAS by Sheridan Le Fanu. Right now the narrator's weird, brandy-guzzling French governess (she has a spurious doctor's note for the brandy!) is scaring the narrator with a story as they sit outside the narrator's mother's tomb (!). She says, "I 'av seen the ghosts myself. I saw one, for example, last night, shape like a monkey, sitting in the corner, with his arms around his knees; very wicked, old, old man his face was like, and white eyes so large." As I say, perfect day to read that. Reminds me of the demon monkey in Le Fanu's story "Green Tea" - that one, whose eyes are red, not white, is probably the greatest phantom monkey in all of literature, though I've only run across these two as far as I remember. I tried reading some of Edith Wharton's ghost stories not too long ago. Had a little trouble getting into them. There are some glowing eyes in one (I think it's called "The Eyes") that owe an obvious debt to Le Fanu (she singles him out for praise in her introduction) but the trouble with that is there is no monkey attached.