Thursday, 22 May 2014

Jerome K. Jerome Plaque

Griff Rhys-Jones, Rory McGrath, Jeremy Nicholas, president of the Jerome K Jerom

The JKJ plaque was unveiled in London's famous Bloomsbury district. The unveilers, if that's a word, were comedy actors Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath, who star in a TV series named after the author's most famous book, Three Men in a Boat. Which is fair enough. But Jerome was also the author of a number of rather dark short stories that put him firmly in the supernatural horror tradition.

Indeed, if he'd written more in the same vein Jerome might have been known as the British Ambrose Bierce, as he had a similarly grim sense of humour. Even in his hit comic novel there is a scene in which the body of a woman - a presumed suicide - drifts by the narrator's boat.

I think his best weird tale is 'The Woman of the Saeter', which I first came across in one of the famous series of Equation Chillers. You can find the full text here. It's arguably a study in madness, but the strange vampire-siren of the mountain snows is wonderfully well-realised.
She has come. I have known she would, since that evening I saw her on the mountain; and last night she came, and we have sat and looked into each other's eyes. You will say, of course, that I am mad--that I have not recovered from my fever--that I have been working too hard--that I have heard a foolish tale, and that it has filled my overstrung brain with foolish fancies: I have told myself all that. But the thing came, nevertheless--a creature of flesh and blood? a creature of air? a creature of my own imagination?--what matter? it was real to me.

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