“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”
-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)
The Grove Of Ashtaroth was written by the fifteenth Governor General of Canada, John Buchan. Despite that high position, he was the viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch for five years in the 1930s, Buchan is probably better known today as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan’s novelette has been described as a “weird story” (by the makers of Escape) or as “high fantasy” (in The Fantastic Imagination) by editors Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski, a 1977 anthology).
I’m not sure exactly what it is, except very interesting and certainly within the vague borders of the Fantasy genre. The Grove Of Ashtaroth reminds me of a short story by Philip K. Dick, Of Withered Apples.
You can judge for yourself what you think it is most like.
There’s a hurried, but unabridged, reading available |MP3|. It’s read by Libby Hill for the TV On The Internet podcast (beginning shortly after the twenty minute mark).
I myself have made a |PDF| from the original publication in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, June 1910.
But your best bet, in audio, for the moment at least, is to listen to the 1948 Escape radio dramatization!
Escape – The Grove Of Ashtaroth
Adapted from the novelette by John Buchan; Adapted by Les Crutchfield; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: February 29, 1948
Paul Frees as John Buchan
William Conrad as Lawson
And if you were wondering, the only major difference between the original story and the dramatization is that the unnamed narrator is named (after Buchan himself) in the dramatization.
[Thanks also to Escape-Suspense.com]
Posted by Jesse Willis