I've always enjoyed the tales of EF Benson but from what I recall (it's been awhile), many of the stories are marred by a somewhat unduly "cozy" tone in the literary style. This was emphatically not the case with The Room in the Tower.
Nor with "Negotium Perambulans". Brrr! Incidentally, when glancing through this thread and reading about the fantasy casting of "Nigella (Marilyn) Lawson" as Mrs Amsworth, my brain saw it as "Marilyn Manson". Hmm! Now there's a fantasy casting and a half! Is it weird that I'd really like to see that?
Why, thank you. That article is probably the most pirated thing I've ever written (though I also have certain rights over MRJ's "The Fenstanton Witch", which tends to turn up on the Net without any awareness that it's still in copyright).
After reading The Caterpillars in the Evans volume I really got curious about Benson, whom I never have read. Even if had one or two odd stories in anthologies I have.
So after studying the threads in the Vault I got me the Benson megapack edition from Wildside, which collects a lot (most?) of his stories.
I started with the classic The Room in the Tower and was astonished how good this is. Absolutely nightmarish set-up and a well-done ending. "I have given you the room in the tower." Brillant use of repetitions of a catch phrase in a text, nowadays this is an old hat, but this could be another Patient Zero so to speak.
I will space this out; I guess it is easy to overdose fast on Benson's golfing bachelors.
I think you might be surprised at how often Benson can be that good. And even his weakest ghost stories are readable. But if you've got them all, then small doses far apart is probably the best way. Some of my personal favourites are - The Sanctuary, "And No Bird Sings", Negotium Perambulans, The Temple, and Mrs Amworth.
Post by Michael Connolly on Sept 22, 2020 12:46:20 GMT
In order of merit, these are the best E.F. Benson stories that I have recently re-read.
The Room in the Tower (one of the few genuinely frightening stories that I have ever read) Mrs Amworth Negotium Perambulans “And No Bird Sings” The Wishing-Well The Sanctuary The Outcast The Step The Temple The Horror-Horn Gavon’s Eve The House with the Brick-Kiln Caterpillars The Face The Confession of Charles Linkworth The Other Bed The Bed by the Window The Thing in the Hall The Corner House The Bus-Conductor Monkeys
Most of his other stories are readable but routine compared to the above.
I made the list for my own use. As for the following original cover illustration, I can't quite make it out.
And thanks for the scan, Michael. Fascinating stuff, especially the list on the back. Always intereting to see which writers went into obscurity. I know of Mundy, which I read about and also have one of those Megapack collections which I still didn't look into. I have come to hoard them as they tend to disappear. (I still fume that I didn't buy the early edition of McDowell's Blackwater complete when they were avaiable; I put the last two on the wishlist instead of ordering them. Now the edition got pulled and there is only the compilation for sale. I now have an incomplete text with no chance to ever get the rest. ) And I heard of Lowndes. But Dawson and Stockley seem to have been forgotten.
Was 2/6 the price? How much is this in today's currency?
Two shillings and sixpence, aka half a crown, is 12 and a half (New) Pence
Thank you. Compared to the 14.30 GBP you have to pay for the last King hardcover this must have been an affordable edition back then. (Or I am writing nonsense because I don't have a clue about yesteryears currency)