The SFFaudio Podcast #234 – Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant; read by Mark Turetsky. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (39 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mark Turetsky, and Professor Chris Coski of Ohio University.
Talked about on today’s show:
One of the last Guy de Maupassant stories, fantasy podcasts, what genre is this story?, the mysterious, the macabre, the morbid, do we buy the narrator’s story?, Am I Insane? by Guy de Maupassant, the events that happen are insane, a horror story?, a satire of Gothic horror, it is a ridiculous premise, a mental institution, is he lying?, is he deluded?, the servants, very thorough thieves, the title, Maupassant is intentionally ambiguous, there’s always a grain of the opposite, a syphilitic brain crafts a masterful short story, is it a true-ish story?, Maupassant was kind of a loner, boating among other things, Maupassant liked his solitude, touring all the European cities, THE SIGN OF DEATH PRECEDES STRANGE EVENTS, “several hours”, if the furniture is taking the place of other people…, affection for objects, The Golden Braid (aka The Tress Of Hair), falling in love with an object, the writing desk and its contents, where did the writing desk go?, his letters his papers, his personal history is now gone, deracinate , visiting new places, the history of his heart, the photographs, his emotional life, the furniture is the mental faculties, the house is him,
“Then I suddenly discerned, on the threshold of my door, an armchair, my large reading easy-chair, which set off waddling [LIKE A DUCK]. It went away through my garden. Others followed it, those of my drawing-room, then my sofas, dragging themselves along like [CROCODILES] on their short paws; then all my chairs, bounding like [GOATS], and the little foot-stools, hopping like [RABBITS].”
his desk is like a wife who’s trying to run away, the repeated refrains, “imagine my feelings”, you stop being the reader and become a participant, the revolver, marauders, the doors are alive too, Rouen, his arms were there, gun nuts, the presentiments, the river Robec, the black nauseous waters, the second hotel scene mirrors the first, is the hotel an asylum, you found your mental faculties, he checks himself in (to the hotel and the asylum), are you a private gentleman?, is the asylum is a prison?, the fat bald little yellow bearded man from Rouen with a head like a moon, grammatically it doesn’t make sense, ambiguity, THE MOON, the witch’s sabbath crescent, the play “beautiful music and fairy life drama”, he’s had a spell cast on him, “a serious accident would certainly take place”, a paralytic stroke, the sound from outside his body, a humming, trains passing, clocks, marching multitudes, “the big one”, the crescendo, “Signad” in Swedish means “designed”, Sigurd, the ring cycle, dwarves, fantasy and reality mixing, were the cops playing along?, “this house communicates with it’s neighbors”, very weird, Jesse’s tweeted dream explanation: “Dreamt an explanation for WHO KNOWS? By Guy de Maupassant – the furniture was deleted, & their dissolution was confabulated.”, not a psychological interpretation, an ontological interpretation, accidentally deleting something, SimCity, ctrl-z, not a useful miracle, an incompetent higher power, “My god, my god”, “Merciful heaven”, no grudge against, Who knows?, God knows!, a murderous schoolteacher, Revenge by Guy de Maupassant, a higher power that deletes, the short story is the only form that can be perfect, there’s something perfect, any lacuna, “a missing section of text”, the oxymoron, rude gentleness, an unbalanced situation, the insane sanity or the sane insanity, the widow Bidoin,
“He ordinarily passes his evenings at the house of a female neighbor, who is also a furniture broker, a queer sort of sorceress, the widow Bidoin”
is she married to the bald man, that Disney movie, maybe it isn’t a perfect short story, etymological searches, the tour of Africa, Sicily, Normandy, “where there hover no vague hauntings”, the missing night, a different sort of desert, Fear by Guy de Maupassant, “I had a presentiment in Africa”, “the sun dissipates it like a fog”, fear vs. panic, the spiritual gnawing of northern cultures, The Inn by Guy de Maupassant, H.P. Lovecraft, “God is dead but he never really was alive. The universe is real but we’re alone in it. Looking up at the starry night we are pointless, alone, with nothingness behind us, nothingness ahead of us, and its horrible.” he goes crazy because he’s alone, in the tumult of the crowd (with it’s light pollution), “there’s a shop for that down the street”, very very very small and unimportant, Lovecraft made it a monster, Eric S. Rabkin, light as the symbol for knowledge, inside the interesting chest cavity, a cosmic vastness and emptiness in which we are lost, solitude, Rouen, Rotomagus (round market or round plain) – but the word magus, J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves, great craftsmen, is the man from Roen really God?, yesterday I was in a private asylum, three months, a descent into madness, is there no lacuna in the inflexible sequence of his observations, a lacuna in which the end took place.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reprinted 150 times, according to ISFDB.org entry on it, I’m thinking Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart may very well be the most reprinted story ever.
It’s a pretty great story, so you can see why it would be, but with its popularity comes a flood of different free readings, most not so great. Which is why I was so pleased to find this free version by the great Grover Gardner. Goodness!
The Tell-Tale Heart
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Grover Gardner
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Redwood Audiobooks (Listen To Genius)
First published in The Pioneer, January 1843.
And here’s a handy |PDF| version.
Posted by Jesse Willis
An early tale of “unspeakable horror” this reading by D.E. Wittkower is very good.
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by D.E. Wittkower
1 |MP3| – Approx. 32 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 23, 2008
Jervas Dudley found an abandoned mausoleum in the forest near his home, then he found himself strangely attracted to it. First published in the March 1922 issue of The Vagrant.
Also be sure to check out DrFaustasAU’s unfinished Dr. Seuss style version that begins HERE.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #178 – An unabridged reading of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (32 minutes, read for LibriVox by Michelle Sullivan) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny Colvin, and Julie Hoverson.
Talked about on today’s show:
Charlotte Perkins Gilman vs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson, wall-paper vs. wallpaper, a seminal work of feminist fiction, a ghost story, a psychological horror story, the Wikipedia entry for The Yellow Wallpaper, Alan Ryan, “quite apart from its origins [it] is one of the finest, and strongest, tales of horror ever written. It may be a ghost story. Worse yet, it may not.” postpartum depression, “the rest cure”, phosphates vs. phosphites, condescending husbands, infantilization of women, superstitions, is she dangerous?, is she only pretending to go insane or is she actually mad?, will reading The Yellow Wallpaper drive you to insanity?, an androcentric society, Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, Life by Emily Dickinson
MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.
Jenny is the husband’s sister (or mistress?), “gymnasium or prison, she doesn’t know she’s living in a short story”, does the family think she’s crazy a the story’s start?, biting the bed is a bit suspicious, barred windows, suicide, has she forgotten that she’s the wrecked the wallpaper to begin with, a haunted house vs. a haunted woman, is the supernatural only within minds?, Julie goes crazy without something to read, first time motherhood can be a struggle, duplicity, crazy people are known to make unreasonable requests, “why is the cork on the fork?”, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, what’s the rope for?, “all persons need work”, counting the holes, are women moral by default?, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, utopia, “everything is both beautiful and practical”, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution (prohibition), the husband faints (and so she wins?), creeping vs. crawling, the creepiest ending, smooch vs. smudge, neurasthenia, William James (brother of Henry James), “Americanitis”, the fashion of being sick, hypochondria as a fad, the “fresh air” movement, Kellogg’s cereal 9and other patented medicines), a yogurt colonic, mental illness is shameful in Asia, mental illness vs. oppression, an absolutely unreliable narrator, Stockholm syndrome style thinking, “You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well under way in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you.” worrying a tooth, tooth loss as an adult is horrific, as a kid it’s fun, why are we rewarded by the tooth-fairy?, is the tooth-fairy universal?, was chronic fatigue syndrome a fad?, fame is popular, Münchausen’s syndrome (the disease of faking a disease), take up a hobby!, distinguishing genuine from real, syndrome (symptoms that occur together) vs. disease (dis-ease), “which is worse…”, how to look at doctors, Tam’s doctor is nicer than House, M.D., witch doctors, non-invasive cures, gallium, Vitamin C, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, Julie Hoverson’s reading of The Yellow Wallpaper, the unnamed narrator (let’s call her Julie), “what’s with the plantain leaf?”, a modern version of The Yellow Wallpaper would be set at fat camp (is that The Biggest Loser), starts off, Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews, arsenic doughnuts (are not Münchausen syndrome by proxy), The Awakening by Kate Chopin, civilizing influence, bathing!, “men know what side their sex is buttered on”, In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl, Changeling (screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski), what is your Yellow Wallpaper?, fiction is Jesse’s wallpaper, ‘tv, videogames, comics … none of these make you crazy’, heroin chic, Julie has many yellow papers, Tam’s yellow wallpaper is the bookstore, Sebastian Junger vs. J.G. Ballard, 1920s, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, posing gowns, identical wigs, Jenny’s yellow wallpaper is dreams, The Evil Clergyman (aka The Wicked Clergyman) by H.P. Lovecraft, nice wallpaper, authorial self-interpretations, Eric S. Rabkin, re-reading as an adult something you read as a kid, The Prince Of Morning Bells by Nancy Kress, The Portrait Of A Lady by Henry James, The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, old time radio comedies, should you read fiction from the beginning? Start with Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer?, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Jonathan Swift, Peter F. Hamilton, E.E. ‘doc’ Smith, Mastermind Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio
CBS Radio Mystery Theater ran an astounding 1,399 original episodes. Unlike early radio drama series, in which popular episodes were re-staged, sometimes with the exact same script, not one of the nearly 1,400 episodes of CBSRMT episodes was re-done.
And yet, they came pretty damn close once. Episode #0715, which first aired in 1977, is called The Guy de Maupassant Murders. It takes direct inspiration in plot and structure from a short story by Guy de Maupassant called The Diary Of A Madman.
And yet The Diary Of A Madman was itself adapted as episode three years earlier!
Having heard them both I prefer The Guy de Maupassant Murders. I think that’s because I heard it first. But the performance is more interesting too, perhaps because it stars Fred Gwynne, best known for his role as Herman Munster.
When I first heard Gwynne’s performance I thought he was off – that he had just been unprofessional that day – it sounded as if he was just reading the script for the first time while they were recording – but upon a second listening I noticed that the way he delivers the lines completely fits the character and his psychology.
Judge for yourself.
CBSRMT #0715 – The Guy de Maupassant Murders
By Sam Dann; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: September 26, 1977
The polymathic houskeeper for an aging bachelor judge follows the reports of a serial killer’s flagitious crimes with interest. The only clue is a note left on on each of the victims. It always reads “THOU SHALT KILL.”
Here’s a |PDF| of the story that inspired it.
Fred Gwynne … Judge
Marian Seldes … Martha Mullins
Episode #0062 from 1974 is available HERE and there’s handy YouTube version too:
Posted by Jesse Willis
The subject of SFFaudio Podcast #125 [which will be live Monday September 12th, 2011] is The Horla, a sort of ghost story by Guy de Maupassant. If you’re still not familiar with this particular Guy let me place him in context for you. He was one of the inventors of the short story and a master of the form. The stories he wrotes hold up incredibly well, being completely fresh despite being more than century old. His style is simple, straightforward and even more accessible than the works of either H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe (despite their tales having been written in English and his being written in French). Poe’s writings, of course, all preceded Guy de Maupassant. In fact Poe died the year before Maupassant was born! There’s kind of a succession going on here…
Poe -> Maupassant -> Lovecraft
…Maupassant died in in 1893, Lovecraft was born in 1890. But unlike so many of Maupassant’s tales, the ones that leave you smirking sympathetically at a collection of colourful characters, The Horla is not a tale of a social faux pas with an ironic twist – instead, I judge it as being three-fifths Science Fiction, two-fifths Horror, and 100% totally freaky!
Check out this haunting passage:
“The vulture has eaten the dove,
and the wolf has eaten the lamb;
the lion has devoured the sharp-horned buffalo,
and man has killed the lion with arrow, sword and gun;
but the Horla is going to make of man what we have made of the horse and the ox:
and his food,
by the mere exercise of his will.
Woe to us.”
I think what I like best about The Horla is the strong bent towards skepticism and naturalistic explanation that’s exhibited by the unnamed protagonist. He comes across like a hard Science Fiction reader, full of excitement for the wonders of the universe. He’s unwilling to accept magical explanations for the obviously strange phenomena he witnesses. He tells us his story in diary entries that seem to track both his mood, variously ebullient and depressed, as well as the facts and impressions of the strange happenings on his estate and elsewhere in France. When he leaves his seaside home, where the bulk of the action takes place, he relates a story that sounds like it must be fully supernatural. And in Paris, where he has first hand experience of disturbing para-psychological phenomena (post-hypnotic suggestion), he reserves judgement. And finally, when lying in bed he repeatedly experiences something we today might describe as sleep paralysis. Is it that the narrator insane? Or does the universe have a secret that is not yet widely known? Find out for yourself!
Here are two fantastic audiobook versions:
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 57 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcast: February 22, 2011
“Mr Jim Moon delves into classic French literature to unearth a seminal vampiric tale of creeping fear, dread and madness”
And from the same podcaster, a thorough and fascinating exploration the story and the film adaptation:
Diary Of A Madman
1 |MP3| – Approx. [DISCUSSION]
Podcast: March 05, 2011
“This week Mr Jim Moon launches into an in-depth discussion of Guy de Maupassant’s The Horla. Also we have a look at its screen adaptation – Diary of a Madman starring Vincent Price.”
There have been two audio dramatizations:
Mystery In The Air – The Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: August 21, 1947
“The Horla, written in 1887 by Guy de Maupassant, is an unusual horror tale about an invisible alien entity that seeks to inhabit and control human beings. It was cited by Lovecraft as being the inspiration for his classic story, The Call Of Cthulhu, and as an important forerunner to the weird horror genre pioneered by himself, August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and others, in the early-mid 20th century. This version, from Mystery in the Air (oddly, a summer replacement for the Abbott and Costello Show), benefits from a brisk script and a wonderful live performance by Peter Lorre as your weekly raging psychopath.”
Two stunning illustrations, by Lynd Ward, from The Horla:
An uncredited illustration from Library Of The World’s Best Mystery And Detective Stories, Volume 4:
Here’s the trailer for the very loosely adapted 1963 movie starring Vincent Price:
Posted by Jesse Willis