Peril of the Short Story
This week’s short story is part of Gothic September: “Berenice – A Tale” by Edgar Allan Poe. (According to a note “Berenice” rhymes with “very spicy.”)
I believe this is the first time I’ve read this story or, if I have previously, it was a long time in the past. Egæus, our narrator, tells of his cousin Berenice. As they grew up together, she was always the vital, adventurous one while he was more than content to remain in the library. Indeed, Egæus’ obsessive interests in various subjects often drive him to distraction. Alas, a sickness strikes Berenice and afterward she isn’t the same. Her behavior changes as well as her appearance. Egæus assures us that he was never in love with his cousin, though he knew she was beautiful. After her illness, he finds her repulsive…especially her teeth.
In many ways, this is a quintessential Poe story. Narrator suffering from monomania? Check. Doomed female cousin? Check. Illness with death-like symptoms? Check. Zinger ending? Check. What sets “Berenice” apart is the narrator’s self-awareness (before concluding events) of his obsessions. This is one of Poe’s earlier tales, written in 1835, but I can see how Egæus might lead one day to Dupin.
I had chalked Berenice’s change to general, ill-defined, sudden sickness while reading the story. The rest of my perilous week lead me to wonder about…vampirism!
Peril on the Screen
I started reading my mammoth annotated Dracula this week, which included mention of Stoker’s possible influences, including Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. I was of course surprised to see Carmilla come up in Tumblr’s weekly fandom post. No, not the 1871 novella, but the 2014 web series:
I didn’t know this was a thing! (Apparently a long form movie is on its way.) I’m not usually a web series watcher, but I binged this one in an evening. It is perhaps what Buffy‘s college seasons should have been: light, dorm-bound, with a good supernatural mystery going on.
Peril of the Playlist
My listening suggestion for this week is the soundtrack to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
This might be a case of “too much, too soon,” but with all these literary goth girls around me, it’s the perfect accompaniment. Not sure why Spotify is giving Anton Coppola the credit here: the score to Bram Stoker’s Dracula was composed by Polish composer Wojciech Kilar.
Lastly, a few perilous links:
- FREE copy of the first Vera Van Slyke ghostly mystery: “The Minister’s Unveiling” – Tim Prasil’s Vera Van Slyke mysteries are perfect for Peril of the Short Story.
- An appreciation post for bats, the cutest icons of horror ever.
- Dinosaur Dracula – My favorite year-round tribute to all the things that make September and October great.