Horror Story Review: "The Deserted House" by E. T. A. Hoffmann

@msiduri (5750)
United States
March 10, 2016 9:31am CST
Theodore considers himself a clairvoyant. In the city of X—, a smaller, older house wedged between larger, newer houses attracts his attention. It seems deserted, but one day he thinks he sees movement inside, in the form of the arms and hand of a beautiful young woman—at least, until a companion points out that what he’s looking at is a painting. He becomes obsessed with the house. He asks around the neighborhood and learns that only an old caretaker lives there. The family that owns the house has not has anything to do with it for years. The neighbors have heard cries, as of an old woman, and singing. They avoid it. Theodore now convinces himself the beautiful young woman he thought he saw is being held prisoner in the old house. He believes he can hear her calling to him, asking him to set her free…. This is a moody, atmospheric story, but that doesn’t keep the reader from wanting to kick Theodore for being an idiot. Some horror is intended, but I think that might have been more effective during the time the story was written than it is now. Nevertheless, this is an interesting little tale. Author Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann was a Prussian writer and composer. His The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is the story on which the familiar Nutcracker ballet is based. This story is available from Project Gutenberg in the collection Great Ghost Stories. An earlier version of this review appeared on the late and unlamented Bubblews. ______ Title: “The Deserted House” Author: Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann AKA E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) First published: 1817 German title “Das öde Haus” first published in English 1855 Source: ISFDB
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/41170/41170-h/41170-h.htm#THE_DESERTED_HOUSE
2 people like this
2 responses
@JohnRoberts (56667)
• Los Angeles, California
10 Mar 16
This is truly a vintage ghost story. Pre-Gothic era and before Wilkie Collins and Poe.
2 people like this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
10 Mar 16
Yes. But certainly not so different from either, particularly Poe.
@TheHorse (65615)
• Pleasant Hill, California
10 Mar 16
I should read some Poe.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65615)
• Pleasant Hill, California
10 Mar 16
Good review. I like murder mysteries, but I've never sought out "horror" stories.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
10 Mar 16
Thanks. It's not gore, but pays more attention to atmosphere, something the best horror stories do. It's just a bit dated.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65615)
• Pleasant Hill, California
10 Mar 16
@msiduri I do like Hitchcock films. He also achieves suspense with minimal gore. Even the shower scene in Psycho isn't that bloody.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
10 Mar 16
@TheHorse Exactly. Blood splatter doesn't do anything for me.