This week I’m reading “The Murdered Cousin” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, which you can read here. It’s a gothic short story which was later expanded into the novel Uncle Silas. I got about halfway through, so expect to hear more Fanu next week!
In the modern day, Fanu is probably best known for his vampiric novella Carmilla, which was published in 1872. Carmilla focuses on a young girl, Laura, and her strange new friend. It’s an excellent example of vampires in part representing sexuality (and, in this case and many others, homosexuality), usually not in the most positive light.
There isn’t much comparison to be made between “The Murdered Cousin” and Carmilla aside from the age and gender of the protagonists (and, in fact, our Lady Margaret is eighteen while Laura is only fifteen). I have to say, it’s refreshing to read something where eighteen is explicitly a young and inexperienced age. Too often these days, it seems like once you’re eighteen, you’re an adult! Which really just isn’t true.
I mention near the end of this episode that this is an example of the locked-room mystery, but that the first ever version of it was Edgar Allen Poe’s. Well, the Poe story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” was published in 1841! Which means that, published in 1838, “A Passage in the Secret History of an Irish Countess” (which was later re-published under the title “The Murdered Cousin”), came first! “Rue Morgue” is, however, generally considered the first detective fiction story.
As far as I’m aware, there are no true spooks in “The Murdered Cousin,” only murderers and harassers. Quite haunting nonetheless.
Your DJ/Dinner Companion,
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