J. J. Strating (ed.) - European Tales Of Terror (Fontana, 1968)
Introduction - J. J. Strating
Marie Luise Kachnitz - Ghosts Knut Hamsun - An Apparition Guy de Maupassant - Who Knows? Julio Cortazar - The Idol Of The Cyclades Josef Nesvadba - Vampires Ltd. Honore de Balzac - The Executioner Franz Kafka - In The Penal Settlement Arthur Schnitzler - The Fate Of The Baron Dino Buzzati - Just The Very Thing They wanted Valentin Katayev - Our Father Who Art in Heaven Belcampo - The Great Happening
About The Authors.
Moments of terror, eternities of fear.
Valentin Katayev - Our Father Who Art in Heaven: Odessa during WWII. A bitter winter, and the Nazi’s are rounding up Jews. A young mother realises that to be herded into the ghetto is death and decides to make a break for it with her little boy. Dodging the German patrols, she eventually arrives at Shevchenko Park where a figure half-covered in frost sits motionless on a bench. Mother and son join the man who has frozen to death.
Dino Buzzati - Just The Very Thing They Wanted: Antonio and Anna arrive in town on a sweltering hot day. Despite appearances to the contrary, they are told that all the hotels are full. This they can bear, but Anna has to cool down. Exhausted, they arrive at the public baths, but the queues are massive. When Anna arrives at the kiosk, the officious attendant won’t accept her money as she’s lost her ID card. By now thoroughly dejected, they wander into a park and … there’s a fountain! Anna joyfully wades in but the adults begin yelling at her that it’s for children only. She tries to reason with them … and incites a riot. “This was a heaven sent opportunity. There was no longer anything to stop them pouring out their very souls, from ridding themselves of that whole load of filth and evil that piles up inside one for years and that no-one really notices is there.” Anna and Antonio have indeed given the crowd “just the very thing they wanted” - an excuse to take out all their loathing on two helpless individuals.
Josef Nesvadba - Vampires Ltd: English setting for this story of a Czech in need of a lift who is gifted a magnificent racing model by a pale gent who promptly hails a taxi and sets off in the opposite direction. Behind the wheel, Nesvadba is the king of the road, the public falling over themselves to be of assistance, but there’s a price to pay for a dream car that runs on something other than petrol …
Honore de Balzac - The Executioner: Often translated as El Verdugo. Menda, Spain. Following an uprising against the French, the General sentences the noble Marques de Leganes and his entire family of a wife, three sons and two daughters to death. The Marques asks only that his eldest son Juanito be pardoned. The General, being of a sadistic bent agrees - on condition that Juanito acts as executioner to the others. A young French officer is in love with one of the daughters, Clara, who had saved his life the previous evening. She too will be pardoned if she agrees to marry him. Clara lays her head on the block …
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.