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Widdershins (Version 2)

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By: (1873-1961)

Onions wrote several collections of ghost stories, of which the best known is Widdershins (1911). It includes the novella The Beckoning Fair One, widely regarded as one of the best in the genre of horror fiction, especially psychological horror. On the surface, this is a conventional haunted house story: an unsuccessful writer moves into rooms in an otherwise empty house, in the hope that isolation will help his failing creativity. His sensitivity and imagination are enhanced by his seclusion, but his art, his only friend and his sanity are all destroyed in the process. The story can be read as narrating the gradual possession of the protagonist by a mysterious and possessive feminine spirit, or as a realistic description of a psychotic outbreak culminating in catatonia and murder, told from the sufferer's point of view. The precise description of the slow disintegration of the protagonist's mind is terrifying in either case.
Another theme, shared with others of Onions' stories, is a connection between creativity and insanity; in this view, the artist is in danger of withdrawing from the world altogether and losing himself in his creation. (Introduction from Wikipedia)

First Page:

WIDDERSHINS

by

OLIVER ONIONS

1911

"From Ghaisttes, Ghoulies and long leggity Beasties and Things that go Bump in the night

"Good Lord, deliver us!"

NOTE

I have pleasure in acknowledging the courtesy of the proprietors of "Shurey's Publications" by whose permission "The Cigarette Case" is included in the present volume. Also it has been suggested that a definition should be given of the word that forms the volume's title. That word means "contrary to the course of the Sun."

O.O.

CONTENTS

I. THE BECKONING FAIR ONE II. PHANTAS III. ROOUM IV. BENLIAN V. IO VI. THE ACCIDENT VII. THE CIGARETTE CASE VIII. THE ROCKER IX. HIC JACET

THE BECKONING FAIR ONE

I

The three or four "To Let" boards had stood within the low paling as long as the inhabitants of the little triangular "Square" could remember, and if they had ever been vertical it was a very long time ago. They now overhung the palings each at its own angle, and resembled nothing so much as a row of wooden choppers, ever in the act of falling upon some passer by, yet never cutting off a tenant for the old house from the stream of his fellows... Continue reading book >>


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