Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Pale Ape by M. P. Shiel

The Pale Ape - a ghost story.

The Pale Ape - a ghost story with a tragic denouement set in an English country house, and also a magnificently atmospheric adventure of confused identity and abnormal psychology.

Sharing much with the atmospheric terror of the traditional ghost story, wherein established reality is invaded by outside forces -- albeit with a vastly different style and approach. "The Pale Ape" is a minor supernatural masterwork, mirroring in its tragic plot and emotional authenticity a sense of helplessness.

Matthew Phipps Shiell, also known as M. P. Shiel, was a prolific British writer of West Indian descent. His legal surname remained "Shiell" though he adopted the shorter version as a de facto pen name. He is remembered mostly for supernatural and scientific romances. His work was published as serials, novels, and as short stories. The Purple Cloud (1901; 1929) remains his most famous and often reprinted novel.

Yesterday again I stood and looked at Hargen Hall from the lake; and it is this that has brought me to write of my life in it. Wintry winds were whistling through the withered bracken and the branches, whirling withered birch-leaves about the south quadrangle; and no birds sang.
When I first entered it I was a girl, one might say—gay enough; but now I have known what one never forgets; and the days and the hairs grow grey together.

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