In a Glass Darkly, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


'the ideal reading...for the hours after midnight' Thus Henry James described the style of supernatural tale of which Sheridan Le Fanu was a master.

Known in nineteenth-century Dublin as 'The Invisible Prince' because of his reclusive and nocturnal habits, Le Fanu was fascinated by the occult.

His writings draw on the Gothic tradition, elements of Irish folklore, and even on the social and political anxieties of his Anglo-Irish contemporaries.

In exploring sometimes inexplicable terrors, the tales focus on the unease of the haunted men and women who encounter the supernatural, rather than on the origin or purpose of the visitant.

This makes for spine-chilling reading. The five stories presented here have been collected by Dr Hesselius, a 'metaphysical' doctor, the forerunner of the modern psychiatrist, who is willing to consider the ghosts both as real and as hallucinatory obsessions.

The reader's doubtful anxiety mimics that of the protagonist, and each story thus creates that atmosphere of mystery which is the supernatural experience.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199537983

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

I've read half of this collection, which is as much as I'm willing to commit to. Classic Victorian horror, which is to say wildly variable by modern standards - the first in the collection, Green Tea, is neither horrible nor interesting, so makes a terrible introduction. The last, Carmilla, is a classic vampire tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it as an early example of the genre - but not quite enough to make me go back and read the 3 tales in between.

Review by

More good reading from Le Fanu, though I found I liked the two final tales ("The Room in the Dragon Volant" and "Carmilla") better than most of the others. Excellent for a dark and stormy night. Not quite as good as M.R. James at his best, but certainly worth a read if you like this sort of thing.

Review by

Pretty fun. The first three stories, "Green Tea," "The Watcher," and "Mr. Justice Harbottle," are that type of indirect horror focusing on the psychological effects on a protagonist--and thus on using that protagonist as a representation of a particular psychological illness, dramatized by the horror-story setting. "The Room in the Dragon Volant" is then a detective story rather than a horror story, one in which Le Fanu's enjoyment of setting up shocking twist after shocking twist is palpable. It all comes together in "Carmilla," which reflects both these tendencies. If good writing for you is all about well-chosen words and non-trundling sentences, this ain't it, but if it's about striking and creepy images that last, this is a good early model.

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