Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
“The Transformation” by Mary Shelley
Card picked: Four of Spades
From: Available online at Columbia.edu. This is another story inspire by a Women in Horror post by Paula Cappa.
Thoughts: Published in 1830, set during the reign of Charles VI, this is a cautionary tale about a timeless problem: debt. Supposedly, there are only seven basic plots for stories, or maybe it’s nine, or three… I don’t know; I can’t list them. But I should imagine that falling into and recovering from debt must be one of them. Debt often involves a heady mix of greed and pride that’s hard to beat for character incitement.
And debt is how Guido comes to make a deal with a magical dwarf on a beach. Guido il Cortese is a promising young man who blows his entire inheritance on a few years of fine living and being a cad. When it comes time to marry his childhood sweetheart Juliet (whose honor he defended years ago from an older guy when she was eight, ew…), his best plan is to kidnap her. Some of her father’s servants are injured in the fray and Guido is forced to go on the run. With no money and now no prospects, he contemplates revenge when a storm at sea washes a dwarf and a treasure chest on to the shore. The dwarf offers Guido all the riches in return for a three day body switch. Is the dwarf an evil sorcerer? Or an angel in disguise?
About the Author: After having previously only read Frankenstein, this is the second Mary Shelley short story I’ve read in just over a month. The text note at Columbia.edu attributes this story to a volume of The Keepsake. Wikipedia expands: “…The Keepsake, which was aimed at middle-class women and bound in silk, with gilt-edged pages. Mary Shelley’s work in this genre has been described as that of a ‘hack writer’…” I’m guessing that the only thing that makes a story about a devilish dwarf in a gift-anthology marketed toward middle-class women a “hack” job is that the pay was good…