Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Saki & E.F. Benson - story readings

I'm of the opinion that an effective ghost story will always sound good if read aloud. Richard Crowest (a new name to me) has a site that contains a large number of readings of stories by Saki, a great favourite of mine and of course an author who often dealt with the macabre, though he seldom tackled the supernatural. The same site also has Richard reading some of E.F. Benson's spook stories, and I think that - as with the Saki tales - he brings out the best qualities of the author's work. Benson's ghosts and demons are nowhere near as frightening as those of M.R. James, but there's no gainsaying his gift as a spinner of absorbing yarns.

11 comments:

Oscar Solis said...

I'll have to check out the E.F. Benson readings. I'm reading the collected stories at the moment (my second go round). I do agree that his stories aren't as scary as M.R. James, but they are good and, while not a ghost story, The Horror-Horn isn't something you want to read or hear while out camping (then again, after Wailing Well, it may just be the best camp fire story ever).

valdemar said...

Yes, 'The Horror-Horn' is so weird that it gets to you. It also invites amateur psychoanalysis!

Oscar Solis said...

Interesting point. The collection of E.F. Benson's stories that I have has a bit of amateur psychoanalysis in the introduction (as does the latest collection of M.R. James' stories). Beyond that, it does make the point that Benson was a very kind man, which is always nice to know.

valdemar said...

That's true - Benson comes across in his stories as a nice chap, but of course that doesn't always equate with a genuinely pleasant personality. But Benson was much liked by the people who knew him.

Aonghus Fallon said...

Funnily enough - although I must have read his supernatural fiction in various anthologies - the story I most associate with E.F. Benson is 'The Bus Conductor'. I did read an omnibus edition of Saki's fiction years ago. His more surreal - and untypical - stories still stick in my mind: 'Tobermory', 'Gabriel-Ernest' and 'The Music on the Hill' (which could just as easily have been written by Arthur Machen). I think any or all of these stories would be effective if read out loud, maybe because none of them are particularly long.

Oscar Solis said...

I've never read "The Music on the Hill", but if it's anything like Arthur Machen's works then it just became a must read (Machen is one of my two favorite writer of the supernatural, the other being M.R. James).

I just remembered that Benson's "The Bus Conductor" was used in the omnibus film "Dead of Night".

Aonghus Fallon said...

I've never seen 'Dead of Night', believe it or not. I must get it out, if only for Redgrave's performance - I heard a clip on the radio a few nights ago.

I think Machen's strong suite was atmosphere. He really could create a tangible sense of evil, even if the denouement was sometimes a bit lame.

Aonghus Fallon said...

Oops - meant 'suit' rather than 'suite'.

valdemar said...

You certainly have a treat in store! Dead of Night sets the bar very high for portmanteau/anthology horror films. I don't think it's ever been bettered. While only some of the episodes are scary, all are good fun. And I don't think anyone has equalled the finale, when all the threads (or most of them) are brought together.

Aonghus Fallon said...

Well, it definitely sounds like my cup of tea!

Oscar Solis said...

Aonghus Fallon - "I think Machen's strong suite was atmosphere. He really could create a tangible sense of evil, even if the denouement was sometimes a bit lame."

With some of the stories I'd agree about the endings. However I find that many of then pack a punch that sometimes doesn't hit you until much later, "The White People" comes to mind. It's beautiful, strange and, once it sinks in, unforgettable.

"Dead of Night" is wonderful. My favorite episode takes place during a Christmas party. It's chilling.