The Familiar - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - ebook
Kategoria: Fantastyka i sci-fi Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1872

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About
Prologue

About Le Fanu:

Sheridan Le Fanu was born at No. 45 Lower Dominick Steet, Dublin, into a literary family of Huguenot origins. Both his grandmother Alicia Sheridan Le Fanu and his great-uncle Richard Brinsley Sheridan were playwrights. His niece Rhoda Broughton would become a very successful novelist. Within a year of his birth his family moved to the Royal Hibernian Military School in Phoenix Park, where his father, an Anglican clergyman, was the chaplain of the establishment. Phoenix Park and the adjacent village and parish church of Chapelizod were to feature in Le Fanu's later stories. Le Fanu studied law at Trinity College in Dublin, where he was elected Auditor of the College Historical Society. He was called to the bar in 1839, but he never practised and soon abandoned law for journalism. In 1838 he began contributing stories to the Dublin University Magazine, including his first ghost story, entitled "A Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter" (1839). He became owner of several newspapers from 1840, including the Dublin Evening Mail and the Warder. In 1844 Le Fanu married Susanna Bennett, the daughter of a leading Dublin barrister. In 1847 he supported John Mitchell and Thomas Meagher in their campaign against the indifference of the Government to the Irish Famine. His support cost him the nomination as Tory MP for County Carlow in 1852. His personal life also became difficult at this time, as his wife Susanna suffered from increasing neurotic symptoms. She died in 1858 in unclear circumstances, and anguished excerpts from Le Fanu's diaries suggest that he felt guilt as well as loss. However, it was only after her death that, becoming something of a recluse, he devoted himself full time to writing. In 1861 he became the editor and proprietor of the Dublin University Magazine and he began exploiting double exposure: serializing in the Dublin University Magazine and then revising for the English market. The House by the Churchyard and Wylder's Hand were both published in this way. After the lukewarm reviews of the former novel, set in the Phoenix Park area of Dublin, Le Fanu signed a contract with Richard Bentley, his London publisher, which specified that future novels be stories "of an English subject and of modern times", a step Bentley thought necessary in order for Le Fanu to satisfy the English audience. Le Fanu succeeded in this aim in 1864, with the publication of Uncle Silas, which he set in Derbyshire. In his very last short stories, however, Le Fanu returned to Irish folklore as an inspiration and encouraged his friend Patrick Kennedy to contribute folklore to the D.U.M. Le Fanu died in his native Dublin on February 7, 1873. Today there is a road in Ballyfermot, near his childhood home in south-west Dublin, named after him. Source: Wikipedia

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Prologue

Out of about two hundred and thirty cases, more or less nearly akin to that I have entitled "Green Tea," I select the following, which I call "The Familiar."

To this MS. Doctor Hesselius, has, after his wont, attached some sheets of letter-paper, on which are written, in his hand nearly as compact as print, his own remarks upon the case. He says—

"In point of conscience, no more unexceptionable narrator, than the venerable Irish Clergyman who has given me this paper, on Mr. Barton's case, could have been chosen. The statement is, however, medically imperfect. The report of an intelligent physician, who had marked its progress, and attended the patient, from its earlier stages to its close, would have supplied what is wanting to enable me to pronounce with confidence. I should have been acquainted with Mr. Barton's probable hereditary pre-dispositions; I should have known, possibly, by very early indications, something of a remoter origin of the disease than can now be ascertained.

"In a rough way, we may reduce all similar cases to three distinct classes. They are founded on the primary distinction between the subjective and the objective. Of those whose senses are alleged to be subject to supernatural impressions—some are simply visionaries, and propagate the illusions of which they complain, from diseased brain or nerves. Others are, unquestionably, infested by, as we term them, spiritual agencies, exterior to themselves. Others, again, owe their sufferings to a mixed condition. The interior sense, it is true, is opened; but it has been and continues open by the action of disease. This form of disease may, in one sense, be compared to the loss of the scarf-skin, and a consequent exposure of surfaces for whose excessive sensitiveness, nature has provided a muffling. The loss of this covering is attended by an habitual impassability, by influences against which we were intended to be guarded. But in the case of the brain, and the nerves immediately connected with its functions and its sensuous impressions, the cerebral circulation undergoes periodically that vibratory disturbance, which, I believe, I have satisfactorily examined and demonstrated, in my MS. Essay, A. 17. This vibratory disturbance differs, as I there prove, essentially from the congestive disturbance, the phenomena of which are examined in A. 19. It is, when excessive, invariably accompanied by illusions.

"Had I seen Mr. Barton, and examined him upon the points, in his case, which need elucidation, I should have without difficulty referred those phenomena to their proper disease. My diagnosis is now, necessarily, conjectural."

Thus writes Doctor Hesselius; and adds a great deal which is of interest only to a scientific physician.

The Narrative of the Rev. Thomas Herbert, which furnishes all that is known of the case, will be found in the chapters that follow.