The Haunted Hotel
The Haunted Hotel
“In this story, as the chief character is internally melodramatic, the story itself ceases to be merely melodramatic, and partakes of true drama.” — T. S. Eliot.
Like Poe before him and Conan Doyle after, Wilkie Collins shifted easily from rational domains to the “superrational.” Like them, he is famed for original contributions to “ratiocinative” (detective) literature, but often preferred to indulge his occult predilection — a lifelong indulgence. His first published story, “The Last Stage Coachmen” (1843), was a supernatural allegory of trains; perhaps his last lucid effort (before ill health and opium drained his powers) was this short novel, The Haunted Hotel.
Collins’ methods and themes, developed and elaborated in his earlier, massive novels, are streamlined and concentrated here into a tight novelette. The same relentless pace and narrative power, the same attention to plot and backdrop detail that distinguish The Moonstone and The Woman in White are evident here, as is the obsession with destiny and the willful struggle against it.
Collins’ much-loved Venice provides the scenery and fatal beauty, the grim waterways and palaces the author will haunt with mysterious women, grotesques, and bloody conspiracies. The Countess Narona is one of Collins’ cosmopolitan enchantresses; she acts,...
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