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The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (1907) (Novella)

I like to recommend it. It was a direct inspiration to H. P. Lovecraft and far of the “bizarre fiction” that got here after it.

The story is concerning the willows on the Danube river — to say something extra can be a spoiler.

I believe it is actually fascinating the best way the character within the ebook is described in mystic, menacing, however very important phrases. I can not assist however attempt to place it politically into it is time interval. The story’s protagonists are positioned in a wrestle in opposition to nature in isolation, however there isn’t any ingredient of triumph, no sense of overcoming or subjugating nature such as you would possibly discover in a Jack London novel. On this world, nature is one thing fearful, one thing inscrutable, with mysteries shrouded behind leaves, and whose forces cannot be commanded by human beings, however solely reckoned with rigorously with reverence and worry.

Maybe it is a peer into a daunting world that lies simply past the door of modernity. There’s a trace of the xenophobia that characterizes Lovecraft’s work, however it isn’t almost as outstanding, showing solely in passing. Nonetheless, the novella made me consider Joseph Conrad’s *Coronary heart of Darkness* (1899), wherein Marlow can not help however really feel that the horrors he noticed on the Congo River the truth is infect the River Thames, that beneath the triumphant illumination of London’s civilization lurks a beating coronary heart of darkness simply the identical.

*The Willows* lacks the bags of Conrad’s narrative on imperialism, largely as a result of it lacks the express politics. It lacks individuals usually, with solely two characters in your entire story. In some methods this can be a story weak point, nevertheless it’s additionally the novella’s power: As an alternative of asking concerning the hearts of males, *The Willows* tasks a worry of what occurs past the attain of urbanity, in lands the place nature continues to be dominant. Its view of this pure world is at occasions romantic, and but nonetheless all the time fearsome, and ultimately, terrifying. Maybe it’s also a worry of the previous, a terror on the ideas of druids coping with larger, now long-forgotten forces, earlier than the guiding mild of Christianity.

The ending will not be totally satisfying. There isn’t a sense that the protagonists are modified by the journey, no understanding that this journey teaches them something about their lives, no shattering of their sense of safety in trendy life. This sense that horror is one thing confined to the opposite, one thing that dwells within the distant wilderness of Hungary, however not our personal properties, is the delicate xenophobia I discussed earlier. However the novella is primarily meant to thrill and entertain, and it delivers. Test it out for those who’re curious — it is not arduous to search out without cost, because it’s within the public area.

Comments ( 8 )

  1. If you liked the Willows, check out the Hollow Places by T Kingfisher – it’s directly inspired by it, and it’s really good

  2. I love his imagery of the shapes of the beings in the trees; Blackwood accomplishes a description of something that defies logic and is frankly indescribable that lives on in my minds eye, which is an oxymoronic, and impressive feat.

  3. I’ve read it so many times I’ve lost count. It’s one of the greatest supernatural horror stories ever written. The Wendigo is another one of my favorites. I would love to see a more modern version of the story as a movie.

  4. Have you read much of his other works?

    The Willows is his best. It sets a mood of menacing unseen horror, to the eyes of someone reading around the turn of the last century. There is no action, more a mind trip. This is quite typical of his stories. Try Ancient Sorceries or Glamour of the Snow or The Trod.

    The Man Whom the Trees Loved is another of note.

  5. I really enjoyed this story. I listened to a radio play of it on BBC radio, was so strange and wonderful. They also adapted one of the Ancient Sorceries stories.

  6. Awesome! Blackwood is a hidden gem. Wendigo is also great (also in the public domain).

  7. One of my favorites! The Willows left me sleepless when I made the mistake of listening to it right before bedtime.

  8. Terrific novella. The focus of the story never wavers for one second, it’s so singular and creepy.

    Im not sure I agree entirely that Blackwood’s aim is merely to entertain and thrill. What he is getting at here is the genuine possibility of the occult. The willows themselves evoke a type of pagan spiritualism.

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