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Maria Lectrix

Public domain audiobooks, six days a week, for folks with a Catholic taste in literature. Enjoy! Clan Honor Mondays: Fitz-James O'Brien works. Lit Tuesdays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Acts of the Wednesdays: Early Christian works. Mystery Thursdays: Mystery short stories or novels. Lit Fridays: Short stories, novels, or poems. Saintly Saturdays: Later Christian works.

Mary reading to ChristA Vatican Library catalog page, 1518

Monday, October 31, 2005

#31: "The Pot of Tulips" by Fitz-James O'Brien

This ghost story is pretty fun. Lost treasure! A wronged heiress! Communication from beyond the grave!

Obviously, though, it leans quite a bit on the conventions of spiritualism. That's interesting in itself, of course. We think of spiritualism as a post-Civil War or post-WWI phenomenon, but this story was written in 1855. (But the Fox sisters, of course, were famous back in 1848, and there was plenty of death of relatives both in Europe and out West during the 1840's and 1850's.) The Ghostbusters-style blend of practicality, fantasy, and state-of-the-art science fiction reminds me strongly of William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki stories and that charming device, the vacuum tube "electric pentacle". Though it is fair to warn you that when Carnacki finds himself a ghost, it's usually a really scary one; and he shies from using scary incantations and grimoires about as much as Egon and Ray, which is to say, not at all. (You can also download free (though lower quality) audiobooks of Carnacki from audiobooksforfree.com. And there was apparently a book of Carnacki pastiches by A.F. Kidd and Rick Kennett called 472 Cheyne Walk -- Carnacki: The Untold Stories published in 2002.)

For those who are keeping score, I wouldn't be a spiritualist or even a ghosthunter if you paid me. The stuff which is very cool in stories would be exactly the stuff which would be likely to do you in if you tried to do it in real life. (I think trying to be both an ardent spiritualist and scientist ruined Conan Doyle's life; though he kept his honor, he left behind a lot of his good sense. But he would have done better to quit running from his grief and guilt into junk science and self-made religion. Oh, well.) But anyway, a good story's a good story.

Btw, I'd better explain again that if you follow the link to archive.org at the top of this post, you'll be able to get different (smaller) formats and streaming. The manual download link takes you only to the 128K mp3s. I do this because some computers can't use Ogg and experience unknown difficulties with the 64K.

Also, I had a few more Halloweenish readings I wanted to sneak into this Halloween edition of Maria Lectrix, but you'll have to wait until sometime tonight or tomorrow when they get processed.

"The Pot of Tulips"
49 min.


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