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In the screaming dödskallars company
In the screaming dödskallars company

Carl-Michael Edenborg reading gothic short stories that have become classics

do you Think that today's Swedish polisdeckare of Läckberg or Frills coming out \\you have new translations the world over for fifty years? Become classics?

No, I figured it out. It does so with genrelitteratur: demand and formelbunden. The unique and deeply personal that made Shakespeare and Brontë to what they are missing.

But sometimes it works vice versa.

\\nduring a despised genre as pornography or horror becomes rumsfähig and trendy, forgotten texts become classics, for a short or long period of time. This happy fate has befallen one of the last century's most best-selling writer: Francis Marion Crawford.

But his best-sellers continue to collect dust. Still do a small handful of short stories that are kept alive with new translations and reprints, and that is winning new generations of readers: they belong to nowadays skräcklitteraturens cannon.

in other words, these seven short stories, as Crawford himself the most, saw as entertaining vänsterhandsprodukter, turned to the classics. While what was perceived as masterpieces in his time, has died textdöden.

The last time a Swedish publishing house gave out Crawford was in 1920. Until its translated many of his historical, exotic, romantic, exciting novels.

\\yet releases it's curious, stubborn little Hastur publishing the first English translation of crawford's gothic short stories. The book named the Ghost, the translation is made by the indefatigable Arthur Isfelt and the afterword written by his right hand, Jonas Wessel.

It is of course about ghosts, doppelgangers, släktförbannelser and most of the themes that belong to the gothic props. But crawford's success often angle them in a personal way. As in ”Man overboard!”.

During a storm washed a sailor overboard. His gloomy identical twin will remain on the ship, but it is an evil wind that blows. Once in country, he married his betrothed. When novellens storytellers visit family is accident. The wife can not let go of the thought that she married the wrong twin, that the living brother simply shifted identity when ”Man overboard!” resounded. Guess if it is true?

I'm becoming rather concerned, and the road than scared, easily unsure, but clearly entertained. Maybe it's because the typical stilgreppet of Crawford: he writes in the you-form, as an oral storyteller: ”now shall you hear”.

\\nGreppet create intimacy and compassion, and becomes comforting as a good friend. Literature that satisfies the reader's need of comfort, despised often, it's seen as superficial and commercial. I see it instead as a miracle.

It may seem strange that it is comforting to read the stories of a condemned smile that moves through a distraught family, if a screaming skull, incest and visitations. But Crawford creates a sense of security of the tweed, and sweet pipe smoke at the fireplace.

a skräckgud that Lovecraft was inspired by the short stories has certainly had an impact on the continued large interest for them, even if they are located far from the master's cosmic nihilism that leaves the reader hanging in hopeless anxiety.

Many have wondered that a human being can be entertained by the horror and grief so long as they do not harm her himself, what Aristotle called the ”tragic pleasure”. Crawford's good-natured narrative is one of the keys to understanding this artistic pillars. He disarms constantly the hideous with a: ”No danger, my friend, it is just a story.”

Francis Marion Crawford

Trans. Arthur Isfelt, afterword Jonas Wessel

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