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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery (1962)

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
A couple nights ago finished re-reading Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery:  Eleven spooky stories for young people (and apparently for some big kids as well), from 1962.   I previously read it when I was about 10 or 11, gleaning the tome from the school library or the public library, can't recall which.  As with Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum (see entry of 6 July 2012), one of the aspects that fascinated me were the illustrations, in this case by Fred Banbery:  http://jaargang.blogspot.com/2009/10/creepy-beautiful-illustrations.html, http://illusstation.blogspot.com/2008/04/fred-banbery.html.  The whimsically disturbing Hitchcock faces growing out of furniture attracted some study.
 
While not quite up to the pitch of shock and fright of the Monster Museum, the Ghostly Gallery infected my imagination.  One of the two stories that affected me most during my initial reading were F. Marion Crawford's (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Marion_CrawfordThe Upper Berth, penetrated with gelid and extirpative dread.  The tale begins with a classic English ghost story framework (although Crawford was American, more or less), with a gentleman narrating the events over cigars...  Bit of trouble in the old Hindu Kush.  "He had about him, I thought, an air of rather dubious fashion:  the sort of man you might see in Wall Street, without being able precisely to say what he was doing there."  The second story in the anthology which impressed me the most in youth was H.G. Wells' The Truth about Pyecraft, which is amusing but now strikes me as more of a bagatelle than some of the other pieces.

Robert Arthur:  http://www.elizabetharthur.org/bio/rarthur.html, who apparently also ghost-edited the Hitchcock collection, along with the Monster Museum and some of the other Hitchcock-branded anthologies, is represented by no less than three good stories (ahem!):  The Haunted Trailer, The Wonderful Day, and Obstinate Uncle Otis.  Arthur's writing appears light-hearted at first, but contains some dark turns as one reads on.  Algernon Blackwood's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algernon_Blackwood) The Valley of the Beasts possesses one of the maestro's great atmospheric evocations of nature (the Canadian forest in this instance), but has a heavy-handedness about it at the end which places it at a lower grade than, say, The Wendigo.  Other (mostly) excellent works appear by Robert Louis Stevenson, A.M. Burrage, Lord Dunsany, and Walter Brooks.

4 comments:

  1. Those are great illustrations, had I been reading this as a child, I'm sure they would have been enough to give me bad dreams.

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  2. Noteworthy that it's geared for children, but some of the stuff went over my head.

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  3. I searched this because, I did read these as a kid. Of course, I'm almost 50 yrs old, but I guess since the 2nd or 3rd grade this was one of my favorites. The artwork was the stuff of nightmares, and my favorite story was "the haunted trailer". This is what shaped my young mind in the early 70's. No, I'm not a serial killer........ I'm an artist

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  4. Thanks, I first read this book in the 70s (early or mid) also. Those pictures, and some of the stories (The Upper Berth creeped me out the most) stuck in my mind all this time, until I finally had to get a copy of the Ghostly Gallery.

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